“…To a woman of the Celtic nations, to become Elder is above all to become Cailleach: to represent the integrity and health of the wild places and creatures of this world.
To become Elder is to become strong – strong as the white old bones of the earth, strong enough to endure the long, lonely vigil to the end of the world.
To become Elder is to hold the power, stay the course.
Above all, to become Elder is to become the bean feasa, the Wise Woman: the one who knows the secrets and speaks the languages of the land, who speaks with the moral authority of the Otherworld, who weaves the dreaming of the world.”
“This is Lunar Samhain (the New Moon in Scorpio is the Lunar gate for Samhain) AND it is the precise Solar gate of Samhain (the exact midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice is when the Sun cross 15 Scorpio).
“We have a rare event of Solar and Lunar gates aligning- a Hierosgamos, a sacred marriage in the depths, in the dark and in the abyss. This is a VERY POWERFUL SAMHAIN PORTAL. The massive endings, releasing, letting go and completion of old karmic patterns that you commit to, initiate and follow through on in the coming months until Winter Solstice is nothing short of profound.
… Something massive is ending, something quite significant is about to begin- and right now we are in that fallow period where the degree to which we can let go, surrender and truly sit with loss, grief and endings (rather than fill them up with the next person/place/thing/substance so as to avoid the feelings that arise) informs the heights to which the phoenix can rise once this deep, internal period is over…
We have the promise of new life amidst the inevitability of death. we are reminded that how we end things informs the next cycle of new beginnings….”
“Life’s waters flow from the darkness.
Search the darkness, don’t run from it.”
Now is the season of tricks and treats
When the veils between the worlds grow thin
And the ancestors walk among us.
We descend into the dark season in the north
A time to reflect, take stock,
Clear the old, make space for the new.
What do you hope for and dream of?
What do you wish to leave behind?
What will you honor with your love and care?
As within, so without
To change your world
Start with you.
Tarot Card Guidance for Halloween and The Day of the Dead:
Two of Stones (pentacles) – Challenges face you. hold your ground, honor your own needs, guard your integrity.
Traditional Ritual / Celebration Days in early November include:
November 1: Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead – a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico that focuses on praying for and remembering friends and family members who have died. Rituals are also done to help support the spiritual journey of the departed beyond this reality.
Nov 6: Tiamat’s birth. Tiamat is the primordial creative force of the Cosmos, the ancient Mesopotamian mother of all the Gods. Tiamat is depicted as a Dragon Goddess who emerges from the Sea and gives birth to all the other deities. She is the Sacred Feminine itself – fierce, protective, loving and nurturing. Tiamat is “Ummu-Hubur, who formed all things”.
Nov 7: Celtic Samhain Cross-Quarter Day falls on the boundary between autumn and winter halfway between autumn equinox and winter solstice (November 7th this year). The light is slowly fading away as our Sun drops lower and lower in the sky and our nights grow longer. This is a potent in-between time. The veils between the worlds grow very thin during this sacred in-between time. Loved ones who have departed this Earth are believed to be nearby. Samhain is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the sacred cycles of birth – growth – death – rebirth that are an integral part of Nature.
The Goddess Hekate was also celebrated and honored in ancient Greece at this time of year. Hekate is the guardian of the gateways between the worlds. She is a wisewoman crone Goddess of the Moon and Magick who stands at the crossroads and assists with all kinds of transitions, including birth and death.
Hindu Diwali or Festival of the Lights is also celebrated at this time of year (November 5-9 this year). This popular festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. In some traditions, the Diwali night’s lights and firecrackers represent a celebratory and symbolic farewell to the departed ancestral souls.
At the beginning of February, we celebrate a strange and wonderful holiday known as Groundhog Day. We are told that if the prophetic groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow on this day and runs quickly back into his burrow, winter will last at least 6 more weeks. Today Phil did NOT see his shadow, thus predicting that winter will end soon. How ironic that this prediction occurs when much of the country is buried under piles of snow!
The idea of waiting and watching for the first inkling of spring is not new. The ancient Celts celebrated Imbolc in early February long before Groundhog Day existed. Celtic stories tell us that the Cailleach—the divine hag Goddess who rules over winter and death—gathers firewood for the rest of the winter on Imbolc. If the Goddess Cailleach wishes to make the winter last a lot longer, she will make sure that the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. But, if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.
The Cailleach was worshipped by the Celts as the sacred Earth Mother in her bare winter form. And she is not just a dark and evil hag who arbitrarily decides how long winter will be. The Cailleach is also the Bone Mother who collects the bones of the animals that die in the winter. The Bone Mother is said to sing or pray or sleep over the bones all winter long. She does this out of love, so that the animals will cross over and can return as new life in the spring.
The Celtic tribes lived in the far north where winter is a brutal season. They had to burn huge quantities of wood to keep from freezing every winter. They also had to rely on their own stores of food to get them through the long winter months when no crops could be grown or harvested. There was no corner grocery store to run to if they ran out of bread. Is it any wonder that the Celts were quite focused on the return of spring?
The Celts watched and waited for spring. And they noticed that the ewes began to lactate and prepare for the birth of their lambs in early February. The Celts saw this return of mothers’ milk as reason to celebrate. The flow of milk and the birth of baby lambs meant spring was definitely on its way. The harshness of winter would soon end. The Celts celebrated Imbolc because they understood that their lives depended on the grace of Mama Earth and her seasons.
There is a magic to Imbolc and the early days of February. It is there, running just beneath the surface. Can you feel it? Mama Earth holds the seeds of spring safe for us all winter. As the cold wind blows and the snow piles up, she holds them safe in her soil. Now it is February, not quite time for the seeds to sprout. But the days are definitely lengthening. The wheel of the year is slowly turning towards spring and new growth. And beneath the surface of Mama Earth, the seeds are beginning to quietly stir. Spring is stirring in the ground beneath your feet. Listen with your heart. Can you hear the stirring?
Imbolc is traditionally celebrated at the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. In 2016, this halfway point falls on February 4. Here is a way to celebrate Imbolc at your house: Light a candle or two tonight. Then offer up a simple prayer of gratitude in honor of Mama Earth and the return of spring.
“love the world as your self then you can care for all things” ~Lao Tzu
There is an earthy Celtic tradition that I enjoy very much. This tradition is simple, healing and fun. It involves speaking or singing your love and appreciation directly to the trees and flowers, birds and animals that you encounter in nature.
For example, I might go out into my backyard and whisper to the pine trees and tell them just how lovely their green branches are today. Or I might smile at the lavender bush and praise its scent. I might stop as I’m walking the dog, and thank the sky for the amazing cloud shapes floating by. If I’m feeling especially exuberant today, I could even go so far as to sing my gratitude to the trees and flowers and sky. Or create a little poem about their beauty and effect on me.
This ancient Celtic practice gives me a simple way to honor and acknowledge my relationship with nature. Our human lives are interwoven with the natural world in a multitude of ways. But I often forget just how important nature is to my life. This gratitude practice helps me to remember.
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~Khalil Gibran
Below I share yet another way to shift into a naturally grateful state:
Take a walk in a beautiful natural space. As you walk, just notice what is beautiful around you. Whenever you notice a beautiful object, silently say thank you to it; thank each beautiful tree and flower and blade of grass for existing and brightening up your life.
Can you come up with 10 things to be grateful for? 25? 50? Make your list silently. And then notice what happens to your mood when you practice gratitude.
My Celtic ancestors held huge celebrations today in honor of the abundance and fertility of the growing season. The time to plant has just begun here in the northern hemisphere and Beltane honors that fact.
Last night under the dark of an earthy Taurus new moon, we slid quietly into the light half of the Celtic year. The light half of each year is filled with sun and warmth, new growth and abundance. And then in 6 months, on November 1, we will dive into the dark half of the Celtic year, marked by short, dark days, fallow ground and long cold nights. And so the cycle of the seasons progresses, year after year after year.
The Celts were avid observers of the seasonal shifts, both on Mama Earth and in the skies above her. So it doesn’t surprise me that my Welsh and Scottish ancestors held outdoor festivals to mark Beltane, also known as May Day. The tradition of teen aged boys and girls dancing around the May pole is believed to have started with the Celts. The dance was a way to have fun AND symbolize the intertwining and merging of the male and female energies that ultimately creates new life on the land and in the waters all around us. Beltane marks the beginning of Mama Earth’s season of fertility and new growth.
For me, Beltane is all about celebrating intimate relationships. My own anniversary falls on May Day, so I consciously celebrate my union with my partner David on this day. But Beltane has other meanings for me as well; my hubby would tell you that this is my absolute favorite time of year, and I love to spend it outside in nature. I love to get outside and commune with Mother Nature by hiking, dreaming in my hammock, picnicking, or just sitting with a tree listening to the wind rustle a million new leaves above me. And I find that every moment I spend connecting with nature nourishes my Soul.
Beltane is the perfect time to connect with Mama Earth in a deep intimate way.
If you can, spend a few moments outside this week. Turn off your computer and go walk barefoot in the grass. Breathe in the scents of spring. Pause and notice the abundance of new life sprouting up all around you; green shoots of grass, tiny new tree leaves and a plethora of flowers all show us how fertile and abundant Mama Earth is at this time of year. Meditate on the beauty and bounty of Mama Earth. Give thanks for every gift that this beautiful planet joyfully shares with us. Give thanks and revel in spring.
In the heavens above us, a full lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse occurred this month. I share Jia Hao’s images of this week’s solar eclipse above (link to more eclipse info). What a bizarre and amazing sight to see our sun temporarily snuffed out by the shadow of our moon!
My astrologer friends tell me that eclipses intensify and stir up whatever is going on in our lives here on planet Earth. Some believe that eclipses bring up our subconscious shadow selves to be healed. But the Cardinal Grand Cross that formed in our sky a week ago is even more unusual than an eclipse. This huge planetary cross was created by Jupiter, Pluto, Mars and Uranus; 4 planets actually lined up in a perfect cross formation in our sky this month. You can bet that I sat up and paid attention when I heard that this cross was slowly forming in our skies and would be perfectly aligned on April 23, my birthday. Yikes!
I don’t know about you, but it has definitely been a month of shakeup and shifts for me and my entire family; we moved into a new home, lived through huge job shifts, a delay in the release of my book, and weird illnesses with odd body symptoms that hang on and on… There have been so many unusual events happening in my neck of the woods that I can’t help but shake my head in wonder. And the world around me seems all stirred up too. I have been engulfed and surrounded by chaos and shakeup all month.
I can’t help but wonder what wisdom is held within this crazy, chaotic Grand Cross time for us? Shamanic astrologer Tami Brunk shares this on her web site, Astrology for Earth Renewal:
“This Cardinal Grand Cross is about a cataclysmic transformation of human culture. At its center is the heart–of our shared humanity, and each of us as individuals. The heart of Retrograde Mars in Libra on an inward journey asking the question–how do I care for both others and myself? Jupiter in Cancer asking–how can I find a home in my own heart, and nurture my family, my tribe? Pluto in Capricorn asking–how can I break down the structures and fortresses and walls that have been constructed between each human being, between masculine and feminine, between humanity and the Earth? The heart of Uranus in Aries asking–how can I awaken humanity to a New Beginning, a radical new path forward, filled with Spirit, with consciousness?”
It seems funny now that I never paid much attention to astrology (or astronomy) when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. Back then I would read my horoscope for laughs, but the movements of the planets just didn’t seem that important to me. But over time, I’ve come to realize that the workings of the sun, moon and planets actually do have an effect on my life; I’ve experienced so many instances of shifts in my life lining up with shifts in the heavens that defied the odds of chance. And as I watch the heavens this month, the synchronicity between my life and the cyclic movements in the sky above me just gets more and more obvious.
My Celtic ancestors would laugh at how long it has taken me to accept the idea that I might actually be affected by what’s happening in the heavens. The Celts believed in the spiritual principle of “as above, so below”; what happens in the heavens is synchronized with what happens on planet Earth. The Celts actually studied how the movements in their sky affected and interacted with events on Earth. They used the synchronicity between heaven and Earth to inform and guide their lives.
I wonder why this synchrony between heaven and Earth is such a strange and foreign idea for us today? When did we lose this knowing and why?
Quantum physicists have shown that just the act of observing the inner workings of atomic particles changes the behavior of those particles. Maybe it’s not so weird and far fetched to believe that the movements of huge planets around our sun actually affect and interact with all life on Earth. Maybe, just maybe my Celtic ancestors were onto something important.
I look at everything that’s happened recently in my life and I can’t help but nod and affirm what my ancestors knew so long ago, as above, so below…
“Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”