Archetypal Energy: Dark-Lunar-Feminine
Archetype: Danu/Ceridwen, The Dark, Earthly Mother Goddess
Samhainis the season between Oct. 31 st to Dec. 21 st. Samhain is the single most important Celtic festival, marking
the onset of the dark half of the year. It is considered to be “outside of time,” when the veil between reality and the
spirit realm is at its thinnest, so divining the future is easier at this time. The three day period Nov. 1 st through 3 rd is Celtic New Years and the beginning of a new yearly cycle. We shall be focusing upon the underworld, our ancestors
and the faery realm. The goddess archetype which we shall be focusing upon is The Dark Goddess. We shall be
focusing upon experiencing and connecting with her in her three aspects: The Dark Mother (The Crone) aspect as represented in Egyptian tradition by Black Isis; The Initiatrix, teacher of the magical mysteries as represented in Celtic tradition by Ceridwen and The Destroyer as represented in the Celtic tradition by the War Goddess Morgan (Macha)
and in the Hindu tradition by Kali.
This season is a time of remembering our beloved dead and honoring them. It is a time of going into trance and
receiving teachings from our ancestors, totem animals, and inner guides. This is a time to spiritually pray for the transcendence of those who have died especially in the last year. This is a time to come to an understanding and acceptance of death, destruction, completion and endings as a part of the balance of the cosmos. This is a time to
confront one’s fears especially of death and loss and come to peace and acceptance of these fears.
Samhain together with the next season, the Winter Solstice is a time, in Jungian terms, to explore and confront the Jungian concept of Shadow. The Shadow in Jungian Transpersonal psychology is very important. It includes all of those aspects of our self which is in our unconscious. It is the task of Jungian psychology to bring the Shadow into consciousness. This is an ongoing life task and is never fully completed. The Shadow includes all of the things which we are ashamed of, feel guilty about, cover up and lie about. The Shadow includes secrets which we may even keep from our Self. The Shadow includes mean and nasty, ugly parts of self. It also includes some of the best aspects of us such as: intuition, spirituality and creativity for many people who are suppressing these aspects in themselves. Carl Jung based his therapeutic model of healing and transformation upon the alchemical, spiritual process of changing the base lead into spiritual gold. The first phases of this process involve reclaiming and acknowledging the dark, nasty and covered up aspects of the self so that they can be transformed into light. Death and destruction have been avoided and denied in modern American culture placing them in the territory of the Shadow. Christian religion like all ancient mysteries recognizes that death is a necessary and first aspect required for subsequent rebirth and transformation. The season of Samhain is the time to focus upon this first alchemical process concerning death and reclaiming -Shadow.
Associated energies and symbols for the season of Samhain:
1. Associated Element: Earth
2. Direction: Northwest
3. Season: Winter
4. Faery Realm: Falias, Realm of the Gnomes.
* Dark Mother: Sow (female pig)
* Initiatrix: Salmon or Spider
* Destroyer/War Goddess: Raven
6. Plant/Tree: Reed, Elder, and Yew
* Dark Mother: Black
* Initiatrix: White
* Destroyer: Red
8. Earthly Realm: Mineral
9. Arch Angel: Ariel
10. Polarity: Feminine/Receptive/Passive
11. Energy: Dark / Negative (-)/Lunar
12. Focus: Inner/Introverted
13. Sacred Tool: Crystal Stone (the stone of Fallal)
14. Stage of Life: Old Age
15. Time of Day/Night: Midnight
16. Body Consciousness/ Chakra: The Feet (Celtic)/ Base of The Spine (Hindu): Root Chakra
17. Consciousness: Earth Consciousness
18. Jungian Personality Function: Sensation; the Five Senses
The first Season in the Celtic Wheel of the year is Samhain, which begins sometime between November 1st and Nov 8 and continues until the Winter Solstice. Samhain is Celtic New Year. It is the time of focusing upon death and the ancestors. It is a time between times when the fairy world and the world of the ancestors and our world come together. It is a time when the ancestors are honored in cemeteries, and places where the bones or ashes of ancestors are placed. Samhain celebrations always occur in cemeteries or in places where the ashes or bodies of the dead are kept.
Samhain means the end of summer. It is the beginning of the shift towards winter into darkness, celebration of the Dark Goddess. The Dark Goddess is the one who births us from life, from a material body back into the spiritual realm. She is the sister of the light mother Goddess who births us the other direction from the spiritual realm into the other physical realm. Ceridwin is an example of the dark mother Goddess who births us from the light world into the spiritual realm, Bridget is an example of the Goddess who births of from the spiritual realm into the physical world. We need to reconnect and redefine the meaning of death. Coming to an understanding and deep experience of Samhain will redefine the meaning of death for participants. In the solar traditions like the Judeo-Christian traditions, the physical realm is seen as being negative, immoral, sinful, and demeaning. In Earth based traditions both physical realities and spiritualities are equally valued. In earth-based traditions, one is "birthed", created and transformed in both directions from matter to un-matter and from un-matter into matter.
In Earth based tradition therefore this birthing from the physical realm into the spiritual one is seen as a positive and life affirming experience in joining with the ancestors and others who have gone before. In the earth-based traditions, death is seen as a continuation, and the body is eternal, yet transformed into earth, or perhaps becomes a part of a recycled form of life. In some traditions it is important for the body to be completely recycled in order for the spiritual self to be free. For example, a burning pyre burning the body frees it quicker in order for it to return to the earth. Native American and Hindu traditions have the bodies raised on elevated platforms for birds to devour, or be burned.
In terms of our group work there are certain areas where we focus during the time of Samhain. It is the time of year to focus on the inner self, the shadow self, those things not known, those things denied or forgotten, It is a time to rehearse your own death., visualize your own dying, and become comfortable with that. Go into the cave of your own dying and become comfortable and joyful with it. It is a time to remember and honor those who have gone before, ancestors, friends, or beloved, whether human or animal. It is a time to speak to those who have gone before, and to listen to them. It is a time to complete any business with those who have died. To say things that were unsaid, to hear things that were unheard. The dead ones are most present and available for this work. In earth based traditions. The distance or difference between the living and the dead is but a breath or a heartbeat. Unlike modern Christianity where that distance is immense.
The next area to focus on is that Samhain is time of endings and death, not just of people but of patterns of behavior, cycles of life, relationship issues, or aspects of self, ego states, psychological complexes. For example, ending a pattern of bullies pushing me around, or seeking validation from another person or relationship might be focused upon for ending and transformation.
Samhain is in Celtic tradition the most important of the eight festivals because it is a time of shamans, a time of walking between the worlds, between the fairy realm, the creature realm, and our realm. Additionally Samhain is very important to us as American people because death, the underworld, the Dark Goddess, what Jung calls the dark shadow are the traits and aspect of the sacred wheel that are most avoided , discounted and feared in modern culture. These aspects are basically taboo topics in our modern culture. Shamanism and Jungian psychology both emphasize the need for wholeness and balance in order to be healthy. We therefore must place more emphasis on Samhain than the other seven festival seasons that are not as denied in order to achieve balance.
Our patriarchal male culture is much more connected to the Summer Solstice and the time of honoring activity, success, the warrior, power, maleness, the King, etc.
Two more areas to cover and we will be doing this for each of the festivals. In Celtic Shamanistic Irish tradition, each of the four elements and directions have a sacred tool associated with them. These tools are mentioned in ancient Irish history. And each comes from the four sacred cities of the ethereal realms of the Fairie beings. The sacred tool of the north and the element of earth and stone is called the stone of Falall and is the tool of the elements of the power of earth and stone. Group members begin seeking and finding at Samhain a sacred crystal to purify in salt for full lunar cycle, and then this magical crystal will be ritually empowered at the time of Winter solstice as their personal stone of Felall to use in their magical work.
The personal focus during the period of Samhain is the following:
1. Sharing of loss or honoring of ancestors who have passed over especially during the previous year. Ancestors are not limited to biological ancestors they may be friends, teachers, and spiritual teachers from the past or even beloved animals.
2. Losses: emotional, spiritual, economic etc.
3. Jungian Shadow work. The Shadow in Jungian psychology includes all of that which is in the unconscious. Also anything we lie about or cover up. Also things about ourselves of which we feel guilty or ashamed. Parts of our self which are disapproved of by our society, family and friends.
Ritual for Samhain
Typically the Samhain ritual occurs in de Laveaga Grove (sight of the National AIDS Memorial Grove) in Golden Gate Park where thousands of people's ashes have been spread. All traditional Samhain rituals are held in cemeteries in order to facilitate the participation of the dead. Each group member is asked to bring white flowers to honor the dead as well as the favorite foods of the particular dead that each group member is going to tell stories about and call to be present. Each group member is asked to bring pictures or mementos of their sacred dead. Each group member is asked to call upon the dead with whom they have issues to be worked through and call upon that dead person to talk with and deal with the issue.
Each group member will be called upon to proclaim that part of themselves that they wish to die. We often do a sword ritual, cutting away those things that we are giving away or wishing to remove from our lives in order to step freshly into the New Year.
Samhain is also a time of oracle and we use tarot or other form of fortune telling to identify what it is that each group member is giving up.
In Celtic Shamanistic Traditions, each of the different directions has different elemental and energetic and behavioral associations.
Begining about Nov. 1st -- Samhain is the Pagan New Year. It literally means "summer's end" in Irish Gaelic, and is the hallmark of the feminine half of the year. It is the time we honor those beloved who have died, particularly in the last year.
Yule is the celebration of the rebirth of light. It is humanity's oldest celebration which honors the Goddess giving birth to her son - the God, the Sun, and the Light.
February 1st - Brighid honors the time just before spring, when the earth is preparing to burst forth in productivity. It is the time when ewe's milk begins to flow in preparation for birthing, a symbol of the mother's milk of the earth.
Marks the shift from the lethargy and darkness of winter into the fruitfulness of Spring. The festival honors the time for new beginnings, as we travel into the light and action of spring, in gratitude for its warmth and light.
May 1st - Beltaine is the hallmark of the male part of the year, and honors the fecundity of earth. The God and Goddess are in sexual union - the maypole represents the phallus of the God planted in the Earth Goddess. The plants and flowers we lash to the maypole with ribbons represent the fertility of the Goddess. The festival celebrates vitality and passion - we cherish the joys life has to offer.
A festival in honor of the sun, of passion, and of the ripeness of the earth. The Goddess and the earth are heavy with pregnancy. This is a time when sacred and magical plants are gathered, dried, and stored for the coming winter.
August 1st - A time of thansgiving for the first fruits of the harvest. The God, a metaphor for the grain, is sacrificed - cut down in the fields to feed us. We make offerings of gratitude, ever mindful of the bounty the earth provides.
The light and darkness again are equal, but light grows less. The God, sacrificed in the harvest to nurture us, begins his journey into the Underworld. Mabon is a celebration of the completion of the harvest begun at Lughnasadh.