Nothing teaches you the patience life requires better than life itself. A basic axiom that even kicking and fighting each of us are tasked to learn: Letting go. That is the medicine I am finding myself practicing this week, as we enter the stillness of the lunar reset, the void chaos-rest space of the balsamic moon. I don’t know about you guys but my energy is sure on that wane. Being reminded of the power and the struggle: accepting that over other people, and over the variety of possible manifestations of the future in the right now, I have no control.
Ohhh life!! And how I’ve learned and relearned! That in letting go, space is always created. And spaciousness allows softness, tenderness, the capacity to move, to relax, to receive. To grow…
This is the medicine of right now on the year’s wane. This week’s new moon is the gnostic entry into the Underworld, the third and final harvest rite. The women’s wisdom or celtic earth path calls this Lunar Samhain and the women in my women’s circle seemed all to resonate to the same theme: Finally, We Enter Darkness. Sacred Invitation to Rest.
First, however, the pitch and UnRest! Of Lunar Samhain.
Traditional Samhain, known also as the more mundane Halloween, is about the relationship between peak fruition of fertility into the lean of life force completing its whole potentiality by decreasing and dying. We hate death and dying, ward off the dark by dressing up as the creatures and monsters we fear at Halloween. But what of the wisdom? What of the medicine of the dark? Letting go and surrendering is a process of absorbing and reflecting all at once, holding all the growth and reintegrating all of the different aspects this year of “Us”. Accepting, no judgment, no shame. All of the experiences that lived through you and who and how you’ve been shaped. This is now a distilling process, clarification by review of all this, and release…
And that can feel tense, flat. Still. Exhausting. Remember, it is the dark moon motion to hold us in a entropy feel. The moon cycle that will come after will increase the length of nighttime darkness more and more until winter is ushered in. For me, with a small gentle sigh and lean, it has felt like the active alchemy of opening my heart even though I don’t want to because it’s getting dark!! but trust is an action word, so allowing what I am carrying this year, all that I have fed and tended and grown, to fulfill its course with or without my control.
Patience, acceptance, letting go. Lunar Samhain: trusting the process of dark, of what we can not see. Of the passive power of energy wane, of decrease… and renewal.
Harvest season exists the world around and is one of the most ancient of all rites. Every person every place has a place that raised her and as long as there’s been life on MaMa Earth, this holds true. Her seasons move in increase and decrease, and so at Samhain we allow this letting go. It is time too of the religious holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days and Sukkoth, as well as the reverence for ancestors and death as a divine power of life during Los Dias De Los Muertes, and is also connected to a variety of both ancient goddess venerations and modern agricultural festivals. The weather changes, it is reflected in the length and depth of dark shadows, the steady motion of wind whisper in the tops of trees, the burnish bronze of late season light in the leaves and colors. We go on hayrides, drink hot cider, pick pumpkins and other seasonal gourds.
I like the earth path because our custom as American’s is the Harvest tradition of Thanksgiving, but gently tending blessings and harvests now, and letting go and space-making through out the Fall usually helps me walk into the holidays mindfully and with minimal chaos. This week especially we mind mind, note tensions and what is living, what is lost. What makes us feel uncomfortable if we have to hold still! We note life’s living/letting go wisdom, the transient power of bittersweet joy/pain over getting to experience without always being able to control. When we consider the station of Fall and the West on the medicine wheel, we think of sunset, of that precious moment of last light on the horizon. We recall that ultimately, all things pass.
And the new day will come again.
And so it is often my practice at Samhain tide to revere, among my blessings of the year and what must be let go, my ancestors. When I remember those that are no longer here, I see the ways in which I am a living growing example of their seeds. What a miracle this is, how I get to be tilling the ground for my own life’s accumulations and legacies tomorrow, and how none of that could’ve happened without my own ancestral and community webs.
From what and where do we seek our values, and how? How do we practice this, and how do our energies align? What is our legacy, what will we leave? How do we repay the gifts our elders have bestowed upon us, and how do we practice accountability and responsibility to any ruptures, injuries, or wounds? To whom are we connected, and how? Am I accountable?
How are my relations? There is not a more powerful time in our history, as far as the four short decades I have been here that is, to ask questions like these.
The power of consciousness: choosing to witness and be mindful in your own life. To say thanks, to tend your tides of growth and release, of the season’s fruits being turned back to the earth. Marking with reverence the accompanying cycles of letting go, rest, renewal, death, rebirth. Knowing that all we can do is be true to our own self right now, and take whatever small actions we can just for today, allowing the heart to soften into the knowing of right now is plenty, is enough, embodying such wisdom… These, the lessons of reflection put into practice as the natural season ushers in the Underworld this week with Lunar Samhain. How that can burn, to open the heart in such a posture of releasing and allowing, how it can feel so counter to life’s frenzy, to pause right now. Be still. Be still with the wane. The release. Acknowledge the power of the season of the dark.
This is the part on the wheel of the year where birth, from what you’ve grown, is but a barely there hint of a dream. Because of the Mercury Retro, we are reviewing whatever happened in our life, especially your opinions of it, since summer solstice onward. The review is almost over, and the catalyzing intellectual energy of Libra which has felt stuck bc of the retro will blast through on the other side of the weekend.There will then come a lot of emotional processing, followed around Thanksgiving by a clarity of will and values, before we enter the deeper stage of restful sleep to prepare the soul for rebirth.
We burn lights for our ancestors now, as we are in the West or Reflective time of the wheel of life. We honor them, seek their vision, guidance, support.
With the solar eclipse as well, we take time to tend that in our day to day lives which we will consciously let go of now. What will compost? Later it will feed life, again.
Traditional Samhain (Halloween) is celebrated at sun down. For thousands of years people venerated the Oneness of Life through its manifestations of living and dying and living again right here on earth. I call this the Earth or Wisdom Path. Post-Christian peoples assimilated Samhain as Halloween. You’ve heard it said: the veil between knowing and not knowing, light and dark, living and dying thins as these realities meet in between. This is quite literal of the thinning of the line in Psyche of conscious and unconscious. My own sleep has been nothing short of magical all week!
It was All Saint’s Day and Day of the Dead yesterday, All Soul’s Day today, New Moon tonight or Lunar Samhain. I put a quote on WWW’s FB page out of a book called “The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners”. The etymology of the word wortcunner basically means root-knower. The quote was about Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls Day being an acculturated holiday from the old Celts. It’s true, in our ancestral DNA all of us have memories of times when we were connected to the rhythms of the earth, the stars, the waters, the moon. Our ancestors, no matter what the country or tribe, have these indigenous practices and ways in our very cells. In fact, part of the women’s mysteries include the neuro-scientific proof of something called behavioral epigenetics that I encourage doubters to look into. The natural growing seasons of life and death are an inseparable, intrinsic part of who we are. It is our birthright to re-own this knowledge of which we, in actuality, rose up out of the earth as extensions of…
The quote ended with this thought: “The spirits of the dead have become trick-or-treating kiddies and flying witches are but fairy stories…By now, however, folklorists do believe, once again, that witches fly to the moon–that sphere behind the external world of appearances.” Meaning the wise woman or man takes this time, and takes regular time, to quietly and reverently go within. To go deep inside, to her own sphere behind appearances~
Why do I call this a women’s mystery? Because menstrual wisdom, the cycles of life and then quiet reflection and retreat teach us this. The time every month when we shed what is no longer needed, as all of nature does, moves us intuitively through dying to the process of rebirth again and again.
It is an aspect of depth psychology, as well, which is the study of the unconscious. To know the unconscious we pay attention to symbols and images, in waking life and in our dreams. The moon, as noted in the above quote, is the symbol of what is within, as the moon hangs central to the infinite blackness of the night sky. It is a symbol, and as all symbols, holds its own messagry and wisdom that is specific to each and every one of us. Acknowledging this interconnectedness on a night like tonight takes advantage of several layers of meaning. First, the rhythmic oneness of nature of which we all are a part. Second, the symbolic, unique inner experience that each individual is prompted to unlock for his or her self. As within, so without–or to your own self being true. That is a wisdom axiom pointing to the power of your own unconscious and what lies inside. The moon, on this dark night, is the preeminent symbol of this. She is at her stillpoint, her death. Just as All Souls or Day of the Dead symbolically prompts us, we seek inside for the parts of us that have been disowned, repressed, shoved away or too far down. We seek to be honest, gentle, and begin within.
In my own meditation today I was visited by the Goddess Kuan Yin. I earnestly intended the question, what power or energy ought I mediate and pray on this coming season. Kuan Yin came to me in Goddess cards, with the medicine of compassion and mercy and unconditional love for self. She is especially known as a protector of women, which was significant in that my meditation had to do with healing very old, dark wounds to my sexuality and sense of self.
As the sun went down this eve I burnt tea lights in my window, three separate intents for three separate prayers for our world. I continue to burn a pillar candle for my own inner self, an orange candle in reverence of my ancestors and their wisdom, and a candle for the (archetype of) Virgin Mary, whose love and compassion has been a hugely healing force in my psyche this year. I will keep these burning each night til the retrograde has passed. Working with this kind of consciousness, intentionally burning candles for example, sets in our psyche a reverence and awareness that permeates into our everyday.
Happy New Year, all you with Irish blood. Happy Sukkoth, All Souls, and Festivals of Baba Yaga, Inana, and Hecate, to name a few of the many cultural celebrations uniquely honoring the same thing at this time of year. The beginning, from the end.
And I know Psyche exists because somehow my heart is always pumping more, working harder, making more connections in that putty, pushy way of tender swell and preening after I have been to Oregon. Telling me that my subconscious is much like the green-grey wilderness as it ever is the sun, how it pushes forward on the breath of detritus and moss of trees, of fungus and scrags of root tips and pine coned disintegrating mildew sheaths.
So I return home, the fourth home I have known. Or, perhaps, more than that. Baltimore, the county, the Eastern Shore, the Atlantic Sea, the Humboldt hills, the Oregon Coast, and the southern California beaches and canyon, too. How all are me. Bioregions, psychology of place, animism and the ethics of knowing things by name.
It is Mercury Retro days before the new moon. This new moon on Sunday is the spiritual reset button for the harvest year, transition from what was to what will be, the funny hallway place of in-between. It is a time of great prophecy and clarity, changes that need to be made, urges from the Psyche about what you need to create. Work that still is left undone. Also a sweet and tender time to consider with earnest gratitude the life and experiences you have brought to being this year, and through out your life. This is too a time, as we near the dark, that our instincts turn naturally towards what we have lost. Grieve with compassion for your self if that’s what your soul or Psyche show that you need. This week is the peak of that funny transitional place of in-between, and because of the retrograde, which is a review of the entire year, we will actually feel the waviness of this change until after the retrograde ends. That means you may feel foggy, reflective, full of mounting energy to change that can border even on apocalyptic, to apathetic, until after the first week of November has passed.
Remember, new moons are the end, and the beginning, This is the end of the cycle of growth, and thus the beginning, too, of what will come in the whole upcoming year. Honor this by going within. In this way, you prepare.
This is an excellent time for silence, reflection, time within. I have continued my candle time, burning them and seeking gentle quiet, daily since the last new moon. I will continue until the retrograde is through. Using those lights and that inward attention to witness my self as Nature makes her changes, and those changes pass on through.
Moon tonight over Laguna Canyon
One of the roots for the term harvest moon comes from old european peasant ways. The season of agriculture and of grazing animals–who lived and feasted in the pastures–followed the growing cycles of the earth. Now is the time the final harvest is cut and hung, the last of the animals brought down.
Women’s mysteries have at the core these earth tides as well. It is said that the pineal gland, coined by Descartes as the seat of our soul or our third eye, is stimulated by moonlight. This gland regulates the endocrine system, which secretes melatonin (the happy chemical) and which dictates our hormonal and other rythmic cycles like sleep patterns. Dr. Christiane Northrup sites several scientific studies that draw links between the moons influence on these rhythms.
Depth psychology teaches that yin or anima energy, what some call the inner feminine, can be symbolized by the moon in our unconscious. Yang, or animus, is the sun. We learn from this resource of inner wisdom, the unconscious, by studying such symbols. The moon teaches us about nature as it passes through times of birth and death, light and dark. This is the inner anima function, what neuroscience tells us lives in the right hemisphere of the brain. It is a cyclical, process-oriented part of ourselves, like a web or a spiral instead of a checkerboard or bar graph. This right hemisphere dictates creativity, intuition, and other non-rational instincts, and when well-developed aids interhemishpere nueronal pathways. Basically, strengthening the creative, “inner” side of you contributes to a stronger, more-resourced logical function or left hemisphere, too! Picture a figure eight when you think of how you want your brain’s communication with itself to go.
The moon is also a sign of the Goddess or the divine feminine, and here we speak again of the women’s mysteries that value how life wisdom comes in cycles, the growing and dying of different versions of our selves again and again through out our life. The Goddess or divine feminine, the Holy Mother Mary for example, exemplifies the anima. We each need this function for full human development, to feel embodied and think in well-rounded, matured ways.
The Full Harvest Moon is especially active this week, and especially powerful in harnessing the depth of the dark anima, our inner soul or life power unmanifested in our unconscious. It draws this anima in to light, whatever shadow part or part of yourself you truly don’t want to look at (we all have these parts, it is a normal experience for all humans to hide pieces of themselves deep inside that they don’t want anyone to see). This is a truly transformative time, a time that can feel like your blood is cooking or bubbling up and it’s sort of true. The moon who regulates all fluids, like how she makes the ocean tides rise and fall, is cooking up your body rhythms too, right now. She’s cooking up your soul. Psyche is very active right now, that just means that in all of life there is a quickening. People are intrinsically connected to nature and the natural world, and the passing of this moon prepares us all now on our biological level for hibernation. There is a rush of life we can feel, like squirrels scattering for nuts, running just under our surface.
What part of you is aching to change? Let that big ol glory moon shine like a flash light in to the depths of who you are. Call those shadow parts that scare your psyche back to yourself while you can still see them as separate, prepare to transform them into assets as we near the darkest time of the year and winter. Ask yourself what you’re afraid of, hiding from, who your upset with, why? Ask yourself what’s going on. Take the time. Listen. Listen for the true response. The upcoming winter is a deep period meant for rejuvination and growth in our most unconscious but intimate levels, where the anima lives.
Our next new moon in the beginning of November is considered the lunar new year or Lunar Samhain in Celtic tradition, a time I hold as dear and holy. This tradition teaches that now is the time we honor the ancestors, and for me I have begun this with an ancestor candle on my alter tonight, in honor of the last peak of the growing or harvest season tomorrow night. I light it in reverence of the wisdom of life, which is what ancestors to me symbolize, the cyclical wisdom of all things moving on. I will keep these fires going, several candles with several meanings personal to just me, as signs of transformation in my own inner dark. Fire is light, the light of my own consciousness in my own dark. I will likely light them every night until the Lunar Samhain moon when those intentions, like seeds, are let go, cast into our deepest dark, in our psyche, where they will sleep and later take root, and grow.
This is the wisdom of the feminine. How all of life, from the deepest, darkest, most inner still-point and chaos, to the edge of the sun and the tops of the stars which will become someday grains of sand, it is all connected. What we do to one we do to the whole. We hold this awareness in gentle reverence and joy, and give homage all our moments by honoring life in all its forms, best we can.
We begin within.
There was a full orchestra in my head when I woke up. String sections of notes that part of me was still dreaming on, a dancy grin in my chest and my eyes still closed and me off out of my body somewhere, traipsing on song chords just out of reach and above my pillow. I snuggled in with my covers around me like a cape and it took a full five minutes to realize I was actually awake. It was one of those rare mornings that feel like the world is commencing, upon just opening your eyes, commencing and already leading you forth in precision with your secretive inside parts.
I came into my life that morning with the decision to write, to journal as I try to do at least two or three times a week. This is rare because it was a jump up and head downstairs Football Sunday. I had slept until almost 10! This is because my creative cycles have returned in full blast and there were two nights last week that I was up until 2 am writing. I am living, these days, wrought full with a delicious creative tension that can border madness but feels so damn alive.
I journaled. And through out the twists and turns on those pages, my emotions jumped and bundled and I did what I could to bear witness to my process. The music that woke me was still strumming in that place the body holds somewhere between muscle and bone, a hearty, full-blooded experience of waking and living. I never wake with songs in my head. I never wake with songs in my head and this one was so potent that I finally succumbed, and, humming out loud realized it was Wilco that had drummed my psyche so positively pressing and awake.
Jesus, etc. I found it on Youtube and played it and read the lyrics on a separate tab. And cried, a melancholic, crying for no other reason than the fact that my deep soul woke me with a clarity so special it gave me a theme song for the day.
Our love is all we have.
It fit the messages in my own journal in ways that I could never purposefully try and manifest. Leave it to life, the great mystery, to give that kind of wink…
The moon is most truly herself tomorrow night, meaning she does not reflect the light of the sun but sits still in her own myth, darkness. The new moon wanes to completion of dark around 8:30 pm Friday night. This marks the beginning of the final moon cycle of the harvest season. A cycle runs from new to full to new again, death/birth (at once) to growth then wholeness, then diminishing to death/birth once again. Sleeplessness is common right now, as the psyche–through song, instinct, dream, elation, worry, insight or fear, among many other tools, will communicate to you what lay at the edge of the passing of another year of growth…what in your own depths yearns to grow.
Our next new moon, in November, will be the New Year, known as Lunar Samhain.
Note the new year commences with darkness, the season of winter, rest and reflection. Death and birth, as one.