Samhain - harnessing the wisdom of these sacred seasonal times
“This is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is thinnest.
Tonight is a night to call out those who came before. Tonight I honour my ancestors.
Spirits of my fathers and mothers, I call to you and welcome you to join me for this night.
You watch over me always, protecting and guiding me, and tonight I thank you.
Your blood runs in my veins, your spirit is in my heart, your memories are in my soul.
With the gift of remembrance. I remember all of you. You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within me, and within those who are yet to come…”
Samhain Ancestor Prayer
Happy New Year. Here on our island home of Ireland, Samhain marks the beginning of the New Year in the tradition of our Celtic ancestors. This Pagan holiday heralds the end of the harvest season, announces the beginning of winter and invites us to slow down, turn inwards and embrace the darkness. Ancient faith was deeply influenced the natural world and Samhain can support us today to journey from the light into the dark in symphony with the natural rhythms of the season. This is one of my favourite times of year. We are being called us to root down into the fecund earth so that our creative life force can be deeply nourished.
We Root Before We Rise
So to honour the wisdom of these sacred seasonal times, Judith McAdam (author of The Source) and I are co-creating Nourish - a wellness retreat for women. This is an invitation to experience the magical, healing powers of deep Winter at one of Ireland’s most beautiful hideaways nestled in the Wicklow Mountains. This promises to be an alchemical weekend that weaves yoga, mindfulness, energy alignment, visualisation techniques, kundalini kriyas, ritual, creative practices and other gifts from the wisdom traditions.
Nourish is a retreat for women who feel drawn to unplug, unwind and unravel before the Christmas Season kicks in. This is a journey inwards that will support you to reconnect, restore and rejuvenate from the inside out. We promise delicious food, warm fires, hot tubs and wild landscape and great company. Prepare for a transformative healing experience where you will
• Discover how to move in tune with the natural rhythms of the season
• Explore what makes you feel really alive
• Release and let go of patterns that are holding you back before the new year
• Embody the power of intention
• Welcome the gifts in store for the year ahead
Nourish takes place from Friday Nov 30 to Sunday Dec 02 at The Elbow Room Escape in County Wicklow. For more details please visit Judith’s website here.
In Celtic mythology, The Cailleach, the Old Hag of Winter, makes her descent into the Underworld to incubate the seeds of the new life that will emerge at Imbolc, the Celtic spring. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes author of Women who Run with the Wolves calls this journey of inner transformation the LIFE/DEATH/LIFE cycle. This is a map that helps us to to navigate the developmental stages of our creative life force and guides us through the terrain of descent and of rising.
According to our own Celtic Wisdom Keeper Dolores Whelan author of Ever Ancient Ever New: Celtic Spirituality in the 21st Century
“There are many qualities that can help support us through this season. They include our capacity to trust the darkness and stillness of wintertime; to embrace waiting and being rather than doing ; to develop and value the feminine consciousness within ourselves; to observe and surrender to what is in each moment ; to trust that it is safe to sink deep down into the well of our own being-ness and confidently await our rebirth at Imbolc supported by the maiden form of feminine energy ; to challenge our fear of death through an exploration of the season of Samhain and the myth of regeneration which is central in Celtic tradition“
To read more about Dolores and her pioneering work read her article on Samhain and the Celtic Calender here
Honouring the Ancestors
At Samhain the veil to the Otherworld is considered be the thinnest. This is a time to journey deep into the void and communicate with the spirit world. This is a time to honour departed souls and connect with our ancestors. Cultures across the world embrace holidays with themes of death and darkness; Los Dias de los Muertos, of Mexico; Obon - The Buddhist Festival of the Dead in Japan, the Hindu festival of Gaijatra, and the Christian celebration of All Souls. This is a time specifically carved out of the Wheel of the Year, to acknowledge death and loss, to experience grief, and to venerate the Ancestors. In the Pagan culture, death is not a thing to be feared but is an integral part of the Wheel of Life and a necessary Rite of Passage for us to complete as human beings.
As Samhain is a time of great wildness, ritual and celebration it is only fitting to to shine a light here on Noeline Kavanagh Artistic Director and CEO of Macnas in Galway on the west coast of Ireland. She has participated and hosted many experiences for The Trailblazery including We Need to Talk About Ireland. Noeline is the High Priestess of Spectacle and her latest creation Out of the Wild Sky was a feast for the senses brought to life at Samhain on the streets of Galway and Dublin. Macnas are master storytellers and pioneers of invention. Find out more about them here
I look forward to blazing bright and beautiful trails with you in the near future.
PS: To receive your copy of A Trailblazer's Guide to the Universe click here