19 April 2013

Entering the Dark Half of the Year

Autumn Colours
This morning, while I was waiting for the train to arrive to take me to work, I noticed that the wind had a real chill to it.  With Samhain just under a couple of weeks away, the boney fingers of the Winter Crone are beginning to stretch across the land as we are poised to enter the dark half the year.

Within my tradition, Samhain is the Festival of the Dead where our ancestors are specifically honoured and our respects are paid.  These ancestors fall into a number of categories: those of our own bloodline, those of our spiritual line; and those yet to become ancestors.  Whilst remembering our ancestors can (and should) occur throughout the year, Samhain is particularly poignant for it is at this time of the year when the "door" between the realms of the living and dead opens, allowing the souls of the dead to cross into ours.

In the ancient Gaelic calendar, Samhain marked the time of the last harvest, usually that of "blood" (when cattle were slaughtered to ensure that there was enough to eat during the Winter months).  While this is something that we do not need to worry about today, Samhain marks the commencement of the "drawing in", a time of reflection and contemplation.  

"Samhain Goddess: The Crone"
by Angela Barnett

For me, Samhain usually marks the time of the Dark Goddess, she who is the shape-shifter and the keeper of the cauldron of inspiration and transformation.  For the last six years, Samhain has been marked with me hosting my Encountering the Dark Goddess workshop.  This year marks the last time I will be hosting this workshop for a while to allow me to complete a number of manuscripts that I have been slowly working on. 

There are still a couple of placements for this workshop that will be taking place on 4 May 2013 - registrations however do close 26 April 2013 (the day after ANZAC Day - the day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand of those who have lost their lives during conflicts).  Details as to how to register for this workshop can be found here.

After the often long, hot South Australian Summers, Samhain also offers a period of relief - where we can catch our breath and catch up on all those things we have not been able to undertake due to the heat that need to be undertaken before the colder and hopefully wet Winter weather sets in.

Dear Ancestor
(Author Unknown)

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out on polished, marbled stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn
You did not know that I’d exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled one hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot, and come to visit you.

Poem Source: Shadowfest

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