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.

Dog Days and First Harvest

It's hot.  Here in the Gold Country our days are in the upper 90s and our nights only dipping into the 70s.  We're passing through the mini-season called Lughnasad or First Harvest  (August 1 - the Full Moon in Aquarius on August 6), and for the first time in several years, I'm not on a flight to Scotland to spend the dog days of summer in the ever-so crisp Scottish Highlands and in England's Summer Country.  I'll return to Scotland for another great pilgrimage and retreat in April 2018, but for now, I'm settled into my regular schedule of teaching, so if you're in town this August, stop by and say hello.

I'm feeling both lazy from the heat and excited for the autumn season, which was energetically initiated in this Lughnasad portal.  This mini-season is known as First Harvest and is the moment you pause and celebrate your accomplishments of the year. We look back at the seeds of intention we planted in late winter, and celebrate what took root, grew and is now bearing fruit.  Just as our summer vegetable gardens are now providing enough that we must start considering how we will make use of all the abundance, the first harvest of our year gives us enough to keep us motivated to keep going and, yes, to create something new from these fruits.

One of my great joys and accomplishments of this year thus far is stepping ever more fully into my path as a priestess. Part of this work was the creation of The Sovereign Path Earth Wisdom Immersion. The first iteration of the SPI completed itself in March and I'm now heavily into the evolution of the program for the next Immersion beginning in October, as well as beginning to dream how this fruit will create more.  As I reflect back, I'm also extremely proud of our yoga and sisterhood communities and how we have stood confidently in our values in these chaotic times and have spoken truth to power while maintaining love in our hearts.  These are the times we have been practicing for and we are the heroes we've been waiting for.

In addition to the upcoming Earth Wisdom Immersion, I'm also stepping back into teaching as part of a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Namaste Yoga beginning in September.  This is the first 200 Hour program I've co-taught since 2015, and I look forward to sharing the wide array of yoga thought and philosophy with the trainees. 

  • As always, take good care of yourself and nourish your body, mind and soul during these waning summer days!