Harvesting the Year: Blessings of the Samhain Season

October has met its end, and to most of us it means Halloween and the fun celebration of all things that induce a little fear with no small degree of costumes, decorations and candy.  It’s a fun time that ushers in a two month holiday extravaganza.

In my life, it is all that, and . . . There’s more beneath the surface, and, for me, it is the place where things go to die and where the seeds of what will be born sit together in council. What we call Halloween is a fixed calendar date for a much older holiday season known as Samhain (there are also the astrological and lunar dates for Samhain that change each year, this year 11/7 and 11/19 respectively).  Samhain, which means “summer’s end” is the final harvest of the year; the time when we not only literally harvest what is left in the garden because after this date, anything left is a gift to the birds and creatures who we share our land with, but we also harvest the year.

Samhain is the end of the Earth’s year. Nature doesn’t follow the solar calendar, which starts the year on January 1, but the Earth’s calendar, which begins by acknowledging it’s own end—the death of the solar year.  Nature’s final exhale for the year happens during this mini-season. She goes into dormancy. She goes into the dark, fallow in-between. She lets the year—from its conception, birth, fertile period, growth and reaping—land and decompose right where it dropped. It’s done. She dies and isn’t immediately reborn.

As a modern woman who integrates the old ways, I call the year done during this mini-season as well. It’s a time for going in and going deep. It’s a time for going back through the year in my heart and mind with thoughtfulness and to recapitulate (to bring new form or expression to it) so that I may move into the next year from a place of freshness and clarity.  In other words, to not carry what doesn’t need to be carried forward into the new cycle. In the traditions that I follow, this is the period, not only, where all that has grown and manifested in the year decomposes, but when it goes back to its essence, both as seed and source.

The cycle (year) that we’ve experienced since Halloween of 2016 has been intense. We have had our foundations rocked and have often felt swept away in the methodical chaos that has been our collective experience as the vestiges of the patriarchal power structures of the past are surging just as the moment of their ultimate demise approaches. This cycle began with collective shock and has drained so much of our personal and collective life force and resources. It is ending with a glimmer of hope that individual voices—great and small, loud and in whispers, out-there or beneath the surface—have power.  We are re-seeding towards the power of the collective to call out the tired out karmas left to us by old ways of being. Our wounded history of a paradigm of “power over” is moving towards a paradigm of “power with,” though not always on our restless timeline.

I, for one, am happy to let this cycle go and to sit in the period between. I’ve learned a lot about myself and others and invite myself to let go of anything that I don’t want to pull forward into the future.  I’ll be spending the next six weeks or so stripping the year to its essence and allowing some parts of it to decompose and to hold with vision the seeds of the next cycle.

Blessed Be All Hallows’ Eve.

Blessed be the year that dies.

Blessed be the year that waits.

Blessed be the year that will emerge.