Samhain Reflections on Transition

Autumn in Oregon

Autumn in Oregon

One thing I have loved about the Pacific Northwest since moving here as a child is just how markedly observable the seasonal changes are up here. While I’m sure I just didn’t take the time when I was young to notice the smaller seasonal changes that occur in my southern California birthplace, I love how visible they are here in Oregon: the darkening and drying of the pine needles, the heavy gray sky, the floods of fallen leaves with colors reminiscent of the past summer’s stunning sunsets. Inside my home, my cat is rarely hunting, instead spending his days indoors, dreaming in a nest of blankets. My chihuahua–like me, not bred for this weather–lives by the heaters, pretending their warmth is that of the long-gone summer sun pouring through the window. The house is nearly spotless, as I spend most of my time indoors, too, cleaning, cooking, and baking; this is the time of year when I love to try new recipes, and perfect the old ones. It is also when I do the most writing; stacks of books rest nearby, but take extra time to finish, because at every other line I get inspired to go write. Samhain is a time of change for me, a shifting–in climate, thought, and action.

One major change is that I am leaving one group and becoming solitary (and far more Pagan) again. I was warned against the group from the start, but chose to walk my own path and decide for myself. I do feel a little worse for wear, and was so burnt out at first that I did nothing for weeks, but I regret nothing about my initial decision, because I have felt a sense of community in that group which I had never had the opportunity to experience this lifetime, and I also met my fiance, the Scientist (who just returned from a humanitarian trip to Uganda and is undergoing his own massive changes, as well). I learned what a community is, what works and what doesn’t within one, and a sense of work ethic that will prove very useful in the months ahead as I prepare our house and lives for the new baby!

Diogenes by John William Waterhouse (1905).

Diogenes by John William Waterhouse (1905).

I consulted the Tarot today on what lesson is to be gleaned from this transition, and drew the Fool. I thought that was pretty clever! Yes, my journey with that group has been haphazard from the start. There is more turbulence to be experienced yet before it is all over.

I also asked my patrons what I should bear in mind as I work on bringing that journey to a close that will be acceptable for all parties involved and drew the Hermit, not an uncommon card for me to draw when I’m undergoing significant changes and trying to bring them to a peaceful resolution. I just received the beautiful Tarot of Delphi in the mail a few days ago, so the image of the Hermit I drew is that of Diogenes in his barrel, having refused all material wealth, while beautiful, wealthy Athenian women gawk at him. The message is to be willing to be a little dissenting, a little reclusive and different, in the effort to achieve greater understanding. This is what I’m doing, and what I will continue to do.

My Samhain rite this year was a bit of a re-dedication. I denuded myself before the gods and humbled myself before the dead. We feasted together, the traditional “dumb supper,” and a delicious one at that: homemade stew, my mom’s top-notch recipe which she has been making for me since I was little, a slice of some hard-crusted, spongy artisan bread loaded up with butter, and crackers with yummy hard cheese baked in rosemary. I’ve always noticed that the land-spirits I work with adore dairy, so I’m never stingy with the butter, cheese, and milk, and in fact they asked for seconds. That night, I had two prophetic dreams, one granted by the Cailleach herself on being hospitable even to one’s enemies. It was a concept I had never considered before, but if you know the story of Tigh nam Bodach, where the Cailleach, her husband Bodach, and their children were given shelter by the locals, you know that Grandmother Winter knows a thing or two about hospitality.

My family and I will experience so many changes in the upcoming year, as we welcome a new life into the family. When asked what the next year held (besides the obvious), Aenghus granted me three visions, messages which said, “You will be granted choices that bear much weight, like a golden apple weighs upon a branch. Even the most unlikely old tree can bear luscious fruit; things die and are reborn. Adore the creations of the gods, the lunar goddesses, and your ability to walk between the worlds with the wonder of the child you used to be.”

I drank the blessing, felt refreshed by it, and shared it with the earth. The candles were blown out and the offerings left for the wild. A new year had begun.

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