The Autumn equinox marks the end of long sunny days and the beginning of darkness and is when we celebrate 'Samhain'. In many ancient traditions, this is the time of new beginnings and the spiritual new year. It is when we celebrate the death and acknowledge that everything has to pass away in order to be born anew.
There can never be enough love and kindness
On the day of the autumn equinox, I gather with my closest friend and create a wonderful altar containing all the fruits and gifts we have received during the season. We sit down for hours and meditate with love and kindness, which fills us with so much peace. When we return from our meditation, we remain in a state of divine bliss but a sacred space within has opened up, inviting in all our past memories of achievement as well as failure. We then release the kindness by dropping autumn leaves into a bowl of water, sage and basil. This then raises awareness of the balance of darkness and light that is needed in our lives. Together we then chant: “The lost and the gained is now balanced and flows as the water of life does”. Fragile amulets, made of flowers and autumn crops are then made and held in our hands to remind us to remain grateful and balanced at all times, especially as we enter the new spiritual year.
As the sun gets weaker we ignite the light in our hearts
Just before sunset, we go for a walk through the forest, climb up the highest hill and lovingly accompany the sun as it rests for autumn. As it gets darker, we light a candle, hold hands and feel the gratitude flow through our bodies, acknowledging that everything is constantly changing and then embracing this change in both nature and ourselves. In the darkness, holding lanterns, we return to our altar, bringing the light to our sacred space and enjoying the beauty, bounty and peace surrounding us. This allows our body, mind and spirit to acknowledge the change happening in us and around us. The time has come to move within and uncover the deepest parts of our consciousness.
The light is only visible because there is darkness
On the new moon just before Samhain, I cast a circle in order to carry out a very important rite of protection. Just before the darkness takes over, I spend some time alone, embrace the darkness and connect with the Goddess to ask for a divine blessing and protection from negativity and evil spirits.
Death as a source of joy and celebration
During the Samhain evening, we go outside and carve pumpkins, decorate an altar with food and wine, and light candles in remembrance of our earthly and spiritual ancestors. With gratitude we invite them to join the feast and as the night unfolds we play the drums, dance and share food. We prepare an elixir of vitality beforehand (raisins, plums, cranberries and Teran wine) and then share it amongst all participants. This elixir is also taken daily for the following two weeks to strengthen our immune systems. Joyfully, we share stories and memories that will keep us happy and warm throughout the winter.
Time of silence and transformation
A moment of silence is given to allow the spirits to celebrate, enjoy the food, be inspired and help those in need. In this perfect moment, we remember the past year, acknowledge our accomplishments, challenges, and if needs to be write down the lessons we need to understand with more clarity before we release them. New intentions then arise as the new year is born and the old is released.
Before we return to our homes, we guide the spirits safely back into the embrace of our beloved mother earth by burying pieces of apple in the ground.
Eating warm foods, dressing up warm, and creating warmth in our relationships
The day following Samhain, we gather with loved ones to gratefully share our first meal of autumn but also making sure we save some to give to those in need. Aware of the importance of the warmth we create not only in our stomachs but also in our relationships, we stay inside, next to a cosy fire and share and care for each other as much as we can. There is so much laughter and joy during this time that it lights up the house without a need for candles.