At this time of year, the Celtic Wheel spins, and Samhain greets us once more. As we prepare to step into the darkness, whispers of remembrance are all around us.
Powerful celestial shifts now stir the call of the void within our souls. So, let's answer it together and discover the timeless wisdom Samhain offers.
The Magic of Samhain
Samhain, pronounced SOW-in, is the Celtic New Year, a moment of profound significance. It marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It's also the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Originating in Ireland at least 5,000 years ago, Samhain was celebrated by the people on this land.
This holiday was observed from sunset on October 31st to sunset on November 1st.
Our ancestors believed that, on Samhain, the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. So, on this mystical evening, it became common practice to commune with those who had passed.
It's no wonder that Samhain came to be referred to as a "Festival of the Dead" or "Feast of the Ancestors." To mark the occasion, people would leave out offerings, light bonfires, and perform divination rituals.
But it wasn't just a time to honour and remember the ancestors.
As the natural world went from summer vibrancy to winter dormancy, Samhain was also a time of transition and transformation. It symbolized the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth—the end of the harvest, the death of another year, and fires lit in the dark.
As a child, this was my favourite holiday of the year, even if I knew it as Halloween. As it turns out, I could feel the pull to the dark even at a young age. It became my safe space, helping me find solace in the darkening of the days in winter. It also encouraged me to look closer at the otherworldly qualities of the places calling out to me.
I loved it all—the mystery, the intrigue of Halloween, and, of course, the fancy dress. The people on the street I grew up on went all out for Halloween every year. It truly was a celebration.
Back then, I didn't know that Halloween had its origins in Samhain. But I was still aware that it symbolized the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another.
However, the invitation to shed and release was not an easy one to accept.
A Time to Shed
Let's fast forward to adult-me.
As I sit and look out the window to the linden tree, I can see she is starting to shed her leaves. They are turning a pale yellow and curling at the ends like burnt pieces of paper. A death is there, in the receding. And it comes with a reminder that this is a process we will all go through, however much we try to deny ourselves the fact. Like everyone who has come before, we will one day recede back into the source from which we all sprung.
At the time of Samhain, the Celtic Wheel turns again to face the void. Mother Nature cyclically aims to teach us this lesson.
This year, more than any other, I am surrounded by death. The light of the day is dying. People in my life are dying. Part of me is dying. In a way, I feel I am caught between an old way of being and one which is not yet fully realised, in a liminal haze of confusion.
But I heard the ever-familiar invitation of Samhain. I am asked to embrace the dark, to dive headfirst into the void, and to strip myself bare of body and mind. In the void, all becomes nothing. A dissolving happens, which can only be born out of true surrender.
Don't get me wrong, I don't sail into this place. Sometimes, it feels more like it's dragging me in with my long, silent weeps followed by jaggedy breaths amidst guttural cries.
And yet, I ready myself to descend into the void yet again. Samhain offers a unique opportunity to embrace the unknown, honour the ancestors, and grow our understanding.
Descending into the Void
On the journey of true knowing, we are pulled into complete darkness; this is the initiation toward our higher selves.
For my part, returning to the void each year calls for another layer of ignorance to be shed from my being, leading me a step closer to the essence of truth. Samhain invites me to seek the parts of me that need to die, leaving me with a lingering question: Who am I behind the masks?
This is the necessary descent towards embodying the strength I had called upon. This surrender-death-rebirth process teaches me and everyone else to dig deep and weed out our inner strength. Then, we can overcome the hurdles in our path.
Whenever a challenge arises, I know it's part of the process I have called in. I trust this path, but it's why this spiritual work comes with a disclaimer: Be careful what you wish for. You may get it. So, I choose to see everything happening to me as a gift and something my highest self has sought out.
And I proceed with gratitude.
A Light in the Dark
At the magical time of Samhain, something internally shifts. This ancient festival beckons us to explore the depths of ourselves and awakes us to the truth. Surrendering and letting go are crucial steps to becoming our best versions.
The paradox is this: we often must go into the darkness of our psyches to see the light. The patterns here are so hidden they become unconscious. We can't even tell that our conditioning has the power to keep us in a neverending cycle of discontent.
But Samhain is the Dark Mother of realization. The gifts of this time are to bring such unconscious patterns into awareness. And then, we can proceed to change them.
For example, this is an opportunity for me to see that some facets of my personality are defence mechanisms. I have been using them to protect myself, but they need to go if they're not grounded in truth.
I'm noticing patterns more and more as I wake up to myself. The perfectionism, the getting in my own way, the inability to sometimes see things through. All come from a place of not-enoughness and turn into an age-old weight many of us drag around.
In my case, these patterns can show up as people-pleasing behaviours pulling me away from the ability to please and serve myself. When I say yes to someone, I often say no to myself.
But this is not a pattern I'm interested in continuing, so I'm working through it.
The Process of Waking Up
For me, awareness is the first step. Then comes taking responsibility for my actions and transformation.
However, I know how much of a challenge this can be. We must be honest about our beliefs and deeds to turn self-awareness into intentional action.
Surrendering and stepping into this place of vulnerability takes time, practice, and gentleness. Our defence mechanism might kick in as we deal with our shadows as Samhain.
But once we get past that, we can change what we have always done. We find the power to stop choosing the wrong partner, indulging in behaviours that hurt us, or being unaware of ourselves.
Taking It All In
Waking up to our true natures brings about harsh truths. But with each transformation and layer shed, a more authentic version of us emerges.
Whatever you are working through right now, remember it is happening for a reason. Challenges appear in our lives when we are ready for their teachings. I know this is complicated and, at times, incredibly unpleasant. However, I also understand that the gifts waiting after emerging from the void are worth it.
This is the path of bravery, the way of the warrior. And if you need a companion while walking it, I'm 100% here for you. I hold weekly Tantra yoga classes in Dublin and design virtual programs to help you find your footing. Plus, I am available for 1:1 coaching. You don't have to do it alone; I'm always just one email or DM on Instagram away.
So, dear reader, as the autumn winds rustle the leaves and the world prepares for transformation, will you answer the call of the void on Samhain? Make sure to let me know. I'm rooting for you.