∞ Transitions ∞
∞ going into the dark season ∞
∞ remembering the dead ∞
∞ looking deep into ourselves, deep into the earth ∞
If we aren’t able to shed our fear of death, we won’t be able to enjoy our life – that’s what we’ve been told. If we can’t lose our fear of death, we’ll waste most of our life running from old age, disease and death, and we won’t be able to live the life that was our original destination. Buddhist teachers recommend we contemplate death once a day. Otherwise, each day will be in vain, because we are caught in our illusions. Only by looking back from the point of death we will be able to understand how relative our reality is. This knowledge opens the door to freedom, freedom of determination and narrow-mindedness.
At Samhain the veil between the worlds is very thin, only matched by that on Beltane. We can try to get in contact with our ancestors. By contacting them it might become easier to understand the inconceivability of death. By feeling the presence of our ancestors, we can overcome some of our fears. Even if the goddess might never answer our questions about why we have to suffer, fall ill, get old and die, we might perhaps be able to develop some kind of understanding, beyond all words and thoughts. Feeling the presence of our ancestors – those who have suffered, lived and loved before us – might inspire our awareness of an eternal life, might reassure us that this life is not in vain, and not without aim.
Suggestion for a ritual for Samhain: The best place for Samhain is a cave. We start our walk at dusk. If we are sure-footed we might go without a light, carefully, slowly, feeling our way through the darkness. Once we reach the cave, we sit down in silence and feel the earth surrounding us. The direction of Samhain is north, and the element of north is earth and the rocks which surround us.
Once everyone has settled down, we try to contact our ancestors. We remember them and honour them. We remember the losses of the current year, the illnesses, pain, disappointments, loss of loved ones or pets. Where are they now? Can we feel them beside us? If we feel like it, we can share our pain with those present in the cave. It is very important to speak thoughtfully and listen carefully, opening our heart and sending sympathy when others tell their tale. If we manage to share our mourning and our pain, this on its own will bring comfort and healing. When everyone who is willing to speak has spoken, we light the candles we brought along. Afterwards we place our gifts for the ancestors in the northern part of the cave and leave the cave in silence.
After the ritual we hold a feast with the food we have brought. If we decide to hold the feast outside, we light a warming fire.
Place of the ritual in the annual cycle: At the beginning of autumn we gave thanks for the harvest and for the abundance of that year. After Samhain, the dark season begins. Autumn is almost over and the days are short, cold and often very wet. It is the time for indoor activities, time to get some inner calm. In this dark time of the year, which is ahead now, we should consciously think about the darkness, retreat into ourselves, and meet our fear head on, in order to be cleansed and able to light the light for the New Year at winter solstice.