Samhain (pronounced SAH-win):
“Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.” (Wikipedia)
Samhain was also believed to be a time when the veil between the living and dead was at its thinnest and the dead could come back to their families and it was a time of feasts and festivals. It is believed to date back to the ninth century.
I love this time of year. With the dress up and fun of Halloween starts the end of the year, family gatherings and Christmas cookie baking. All of which have some wonderful memories associated with them.
In the course of my weekly readings (insert word nerd) and preparing for my fun Halloween class. I came across a blog where I learned about Samhain and I wanted to share some of the information as we move into Autumn and a different way to look at the world.
Almost on cue with the coming of Samhain or Halloween, our little part of the world seems to transition abruptly into autumn. Winter stands ready at the threshold just waiting for nature’s invitation to cross. Although Summer seems to want to hold onto the day, there is a chill in the air. The wind has bite to it and a promise of the coming Winter’s stinging coldness. When the sun hits the earth in the late afternoon, the leaves gently falling to the ground, the familiar smell of the dying leaves, let us know that winter is coming (Cue the Game of Thrones reference).
There is tremendous beauty to this season. It’s a sad beauty though, powerful, moving, but tinged with just a touch of the taste of loss. It’s a beauty that highlights the transitory nature of things.
As the earth grows colder, entering into its dying time, turning within, we too can shift our focus and look within. We can take the chance to attend to ourselves and to the dusty, unexamined parts of our lives. We can look back on our successes and joy but also our losses and failures. Our losses and failures are building blocks and guides, sometimes much more powerful than our more pleasant experiences.
Samhain is about the memory of things long past and long gone. Whether it is family members, jobs, or something or someone whom you once valued…..that loss has value. Loss teaches us what we have. It teaches us how to recognize and treasure the smallest of blessings in our lives. It brings perspective. Samhain is a time when, above all else, we are asked to honor loss.
Samhain is also a season of potential renewal and reawakening. We carry the hopes of our own futures, futures that we have the power and potential to create each moment of every day.
As you move through this season, consider this time as a mindful honoring of the past but living awake, aware, and hopeful for all that we have the potential to be.
~Heather Sharar, teacher @ Sangha Yoga