Today marks the cross-quarter day (halfway point) between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. The wheel of the year turns and the entire northern half of the planet enters into the dark part of the year. It is the time of year when the Sun drops lower and lower on the horizon, and the dark of night lasts longer and longer.
Ancient Celtic tribes celebrated Samhain(pronounced sow-in) to mark this auspicious time. According to the Celts and other pagan tribes, the veils between the worlds grow thin at this time of year. That means we can more easily connect with loved ones who have crossed over into the land of the dead. It is the perfect time to honor and celebrate our ancestors.
Celtic Samhain is also about celebrating life. The last of the harvest has been gathered up in our fields and orchards. The natural bounty of Mama Earth will bless and nourish us all winter.
As you enter into the dark half of the year, pause for a moment or two. Offer love and gratitude to Mama Earth for the water, food and shelter she provides. Say a prayer for any loved ones who have moved beyond here and now. Express thanks for everything you have harvested in your life this year.
May the Spirit of peace bring peace to your house this Samhain night and all nights to come.
All will come again into its strength: the fields undivided, the waters undammed, the trees towering and the walls built low. And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land. And no churches where God is imprisoned and lamented like a trapped and wounded animal.
“Joy is everywhere; it is in the earth’s green covering of grass: in the blue serenity of the sky: in the reckless exuberance of spring: in the severe abstinence of grey winter. . . Joy is there everywhere.”
Image: Snow blanketing a mountain forest by Nancy Lankston
“The Goddess gradually retreated into the depths of forests or onto mountaintops, where she remains to this day in beliefs and fairy stories. Human alienation from the vital roots of earthly life ensued, the results of which are clear in our contemporary society.
But the cycles never stop turning, and now we find the Goddess reemerging from the forests and mountains, bringing us hope for the future, returning us to our most ancient human roots.”
‘I honour the wisdom of life. I learn from life in all its forms. The tree teaches me. The sparrow and the wren sing my song. I am open to the lessons Life brings me from the earth. I learn from the wind, from the sun, from the small flowers, and from the stars. I walk without arrogance. I learn from all I encounter. I open my mind and heart to the guidance and love that come to me from the natural world.’
Today is the autumnal equinox. Autumn has officially arrived.
An equinox is the moment when the equator of planet Earth lines up perfectly with the center of our Sun’s disk. The equinox occurs only twice each year, in spring and again in fall. This is a time of balance on our beautiful planet. Day and night are precisely equal at the equator — and very close to equal everywhere else on the globe.
The ancients worshipped Mama Earth as the great Goddess Gaia, miraculous creator of all life on this planet. Gaia is the original mother of us all.
This is the perfect time to spend a few moments meditating with Gaia. Offer a prayer of gratitude for the comforting rhythms of her cyclic seasons; autumn follows summer just as surely as night follows day. Ask your Earth Mama to help you find balance and equanimity in the midst of all the waves of change washing over you in these chaotic times. Thank her for the oxygen, water, food and shelter she provides that make your life possible.
“Once I spoke the language of the flowers, Once I understood each word the caterpillar said, Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings, And shared a conversation with the housefly in my bed. Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets, And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow, Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . . How did it go? How did it go?”