Nature is preparing itself through winter and it is celebrated through the festival of Sawhain.
The evening of October 31st is known as Samhain and it is a time to celebrate the transition from light into dark. It marks the end of the harvest and is a time to give thanks for the old year’s cycle that is finishing and the beginning of the Celtic New Year.
In nature, vegetation dies back and leaves fall from the trees, decomposing on the forest floor. To many people, this may seem bleak. Yet the decomposed leaves provide nutrients which are transported via underground fungal networks back to the trees through their roots, so they can grow and flourish the following Spring. It is all part of the continuous cycle of life, decay, death … and rebirth.
At Samhain, the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead is considered especially thin – and for this reason, Samhain celebrations traditionally include remembering and honouring our ancestors and loved ones who have died.
Just as nature is a continuous cycle of life, death and rebirth, we too can connect to the new energy marked by Samhain and move gently, and well, into winter. Why not …
- Give thanks for the ‘old year’: pause and reflect on what you are grateful for. Notice how you have grown and developed, explore what you have learned. Name the good things, no matter how small – and look for the silver linings from the difficult things you may have encountered … rest assured, life will give us what we need.
- Honour your ancestors and loved ones who have died: collect photographs and other personal mementos of loved ones and / or pets and arrange them on a table, together with some candles. Light the candles and bring some fond memories of your loved ones to mind, then thank them for being part of your life and wish them well. Hold them in your heart as you blow the candles out.
- Go on a Noticing Nature Walk: get out into nature, walk slowly and open up all of your senses to really become aware of what’s there. Notice signs of the season – colours, shapes, sounds – and also notice how you can observe life and death in nature. Know that we, as humans, are a part of nature too – we are interconnected … see if you can experience a sense of inter-being with nature.
- Bring the outdoors in: create natural displays of seasonal items such as miniature pumpkins, squash, acorns, twigs, leaves, logs and sweet chestnuts.
- Choose what you would like to let go of: just as the trees shed their leaves then regain this energy through their roots – ask yourself “what do I want to let go of, right now”? Give yourself permission to let go of anything unwanted – and allow this to create space for new things to unfold.