The natural world and our human psyches turn toward the mysteries of death at Samhain. Cold and darkness descend upon the land, and the wild world shifts into decay and a death-like sleep. In many cultures, this time of year is marked by offerings and rituals to honor the dead, our beloved ancestors.
Usually we don’t like to think about death. Most of us run as fast as we can from the frightening specter that decline and death conjure in us. It is the ultimate irony that the moment we are born into life, with our very first breath, we are also born into death. And we must live every moment, every breath, knowing that we will die, and that everything around us, all that we love and cherish, will eventually come to decay, to death, to dust.
Samhain teaches us that there is no hiding from death. It comes in the falling of leaves, the lengthening darkness and the cold grip of Winter. It comes in our remembrances of our beloved ancestors that have passed on. It comes in the wrenching of our heart as we witness a dear one slip from this world into the next. It comes with the graying at our temples, the sagging of our flesh and the unstoppable march toward our last breath.
And death comes with gifts in hand if we have the courage to show up raw and naked to our pain, losses and fears.
that every breath is a miracle not to be wasted;
that each person, each creature and life form, is worthy, precious, sacred;
that life is oh so hard and oh so exquisite;
that pain and loss help us remember what we cherish most;
and that love, at the end of all things, is what remains.
Love is death’s most precious gift to us. Love, not money, possessions, career, social esteem and the many other alluring outer trappings of life, is the balm that soothes us in the face of death. Love is what connects us to those who have passed on. Love calls us to reach out and hold each other in our grief. Love is what joins us heart to heart and soul to soul to another. Love is our best offering from our Deep Self to the world.
Samhain is a time to contemplate the mysteries of death, not from a place of fear and resistance, but from an acceptance of death as a teacher and guide for the living. Yes we are born into life and born into death, and it is this very, inescapable fact that makes every moment so precious, fragile and bittersweet beautiful.
Death isn’t a summons to fear, it is an invitation to love, deeply, wildly, joyfully. And when death seeks us out at the end of our days, let our last breath be a prayer to love.
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Excerpt: Path of She Book of Sabbats
Your journey of soul brings you face-to-face with profound endings and weighty choice making at Samhain. Nature’s death-like state and the potent mysteries of Samhain draw you into the deep roots of your spiritual journey as you embark on a new cycle of healing and personal growth.
Nature makes its final transitions into its winter mode of dormancy at Samhain. The outer appearance of things changes dramatically. Deciduous trees shed the last of their leaves. Some plants and animals die. Others alter their life patterns, slowing down their metabolism, putting on a thick winter covering, and hibernating. Sleep and stillness spread across the wild landscape.
Our human realm also turns its awareness toward death and endings. The final crops of the season are harvested. Cultures around the world celebrate and honor their beloved ancestors at this time of year. Halloween traditions and imagery harken back to the pagan belief that the veil between the worlds is thin at Samhain, allowing for communion between the living and the dead.
Yet endings are not what they appear to be. The death-like state of Nature at Samhain is an illusion. Yes there is physical death in the wild world, but there is also gestating new life. Underneath the outer dormancy, life is present, resting and rejuvenating in preparation for the glorious rebirth of Spring.
So too the profound endings that arise as you embark on a new cycle of your journey of soul contain the promise of new beginnings. And like the natural world retreating deeper into darkness at Samhain, your journey takes you deeper into the mysteries of the sacred dark.
Hecate is not the evil cartoon hag of Halloween and Hollywood movies, nor the corrupter of men portrayed in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. She is more primal and powerful than the Goddess that comes to us through Greek mythology, though Her crossroads magic is preserved in these mythic accounts.
Hecate is the Dark Mother who has been with us from the very beginning of our specie’s birth from the starlit realm into our flesh and blood form. And She has guided us always in the ways and mysteries of the sacred feminine, and in the trials and triumphs of our spiritual evolution.
Her crossroads can reveal many things, from the critical juncture we collectively face in these Great Turning times of societal upheaval and transformation, to the profound endings and new beginnings that will guide your personal pathwork in the months to come.
In Hecate’s loving presence and the potent mysteries of Samhain, you can choose your path forward into Her life-centered ways and your greater becoming. And in this choice making, you can naturally play your part in the positive, evolutionary momentum we can create together in these Great Turning times.
Honor the Mysteries of Samhain
with the Path of She Book of Sabbats.
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At the edge of the edge of the sunlit realm, where a rough-hewn stone stairway leads down into the velvety darkness of the Underworld, Persephone awaits you, still and silent, wrapped in a black cloak that rustles in a bone-chilling wind. She is beautiful and fearsome, with penetrating dark blue eyes, pale skin, lips the rich red of pomegranate, and long, lustrous ebony brown hair.
This is not the young maiden Goddess, alight with joy and innocence, that you may have read about in the ancient tales, but a regal being who has fully claimed Her place and sovereignty in the great weaving of life.
Yet the season of humanity is turning and a great awakening is upon you. Your Deep Self is reaching for you, calling you to a life of soul and drawing you back to my side and the lost ways of the sacred feminine.”
She extends Her arm and you wrap your fingers in the soft, black folds of Her cloak. The space around you shimmers and morphs, and you find yourself transported to another time and place, looking out on a scene from when the world was fresh and new.
A younger version of Persephone plays in the meadow before you, picking flowers and smiling Her delight. Her face has the warm tones of skin kissed by sunlight and Her eyes are of a lighter shade of blue gray.
As you watch, the young Persephone wanders further and further from the meadow and the protective circle of Her Mother. Her light-hearted smile has been replaced by an intense focus, as if She is being drawn forward by a compelling, irresistible force.
A great fissure appears in the Earth at Her feet and a God-like being emerges. He emanates a powerful elixir of animal magnetism and ethereal beauty, as if He is equally woven of flesh and of light. A piercing cold spreads outward from His body, withering the wildflowers and yellowing the leaves within reach of His frosty breath. Yet His somber, coal-black eyes are filled with tender warmth as He gazes down at the lovely Persephone.
“Hades,” She whispers with a note of longing in Her voice and taking a tentative step in His direction.
For a moment young Persephone pauses, looking over Her shoulder from where She came and then down into the inky darkness before Her. And in this moment, it is as if you are inside of Persephone, feeling the push and pull of Her trepidation and profound hunger in the face of this vast unknown realm. A calm determination rises up from Her core, quieting Her fast beating heart and steeling Her resolve. Then She slips Her hand into Hades’s, a faint smile playing across Her lips, and the Earth closes over their heads, swallowing them whole.
The scene disappears and you are once more standing beside the older Persephone at the stone steps leading into the Underworld.
“Life never stands still,” Persephone says, “Something inside of us seeks the edges of what we know in search of our deeper and greater becoming.
As Persephone speaks, the light fades from the sky and a profound stillness settles on the land. Fall is in the air and the natural world, like Persephone, has begun its descent into the secret mysteries of darkness.
“I tell you my story so you may know the ways of the sacred feminine,” Persephone continues, “To seek the true power and nature of your Deep Self, you must step past the border of your known world into the depth of the Underworld that resides in the inner folds of your psyche and in the mysteries that underlie waking reality.
“When you brave the Underworld and travel its ways, you reclaim what has been lost, the sacred feminine and the sacred dark, and you begin the hard, hard work of returning balance and wholeness to your life and your world. Your journey will not be easy because the trials and revelations of the sacred dark are meant to test and teach you. And yet, if you follow in my footsteps and stay the course, healing and profound change will come.
Persephone places Her hand on your chest, sending Her wise teachings into the core of your being. Her story is your story, the story of the turning of the seasons into Fall, and the story of the unfolding of our collective humanity. Always at the Fall Equinox, the sacred darkness opens portals that beckon to a new cycle of healing and growth.
Then Her touch and Her presence are gone. Yet you are not alone at the portal to the Underworld. He waits for you on the stone stairs, a magical messenger to guide your journey back to your Deep Self.
“Come,” He says, His hand extended to you and His eyes brimming with tender warmth, “it is time for your awakening.”
Take His hand, descend; the sacred darkness and your deepest becoming await you.
Celebrate Fall Equinox with the Path of She Book of Sabbats.
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With the arrival of Fall, change is in the air as the seasons of light and life turn once more to those of darkness and death. One cycle through these elemental forces comes to an end and another begins. The Fall Equinox is the tipping point, a brief time of balance between light and darkness, before the living world surrenders itself to the waxing powers of the sacred dark.
Light and dark modulate Nature’s primal cycle and responses. The weakening rays of the sun, nip of frost in the air, and ever-increasing erosion of daylight hours speak in the language of physical matter, and plants and creatures listen, adapting their appearance and habits in preparation for the coming Winter — trees shed their autumn foliage; plants give up their harvest, and then wither away; birds and animals shift into to their fall patterns of migration, hibernation, and stockpiling foodstuff for the barren days ahead.
These are the natural rhythms and ways of Mother Earth and Her wild inhabitants, dialed into a seasonal cycle that honors darkness equally to light, and balances times of outward activity and growth with inward focus and repose. In Fall, life instinctively returns to the rich, potent mysteries of the sacred dark where every new cycle and new beginning finds its deep roots and origins.
On a physical level, this may mean wearing warmer clothes, eating different foods, spending more time indoors, or turning the heat up on your thermostat. Deeper still, on the level of soul, you can follow Nature’s lead by slowing down, making room for repose, and reflection, and turning inward to the realm of the sacred dark to seek out the deep, spiritual roots of your new cycle on your journey of soul.
Here, in the rich, potent mysteries of the sacred dark, you can source these deep roots of your spiritual growth in the secret desires, hidden treasures, lost stories, sleeping potential, and other gifts that can inspire and guide your spiritual pathwork of transformative change in the weeks, months and seasons to come.
Every Fall, a new cycle of transformative change begins in the potent depths and great unknown of the sacred dark. Yet we don’t heed this primal truth in our busy, modern lives. We’ve been trained to look outside of ourselves for meaning and direction, limiting our awareness to the material, well-lit world of the things we already know and understand. We’ve forgotten and fear the transformative mysteries of the sacred dark, of Nature, of soul, and of the Goddess.
Every Fall, the Goddess Persephone reaches out with Her ancient story to help you remember and reclaim these transformative mysteries. Persephone’s tale comes from Greek mythology, and is founded in much older Goddess tales of the hera’s journey of descent and return from the Underworld.
Persephone’s tale can inspire you to gather the courage and commitment to embark on your own hera journey. As you travel this ancient path, following in Persephone’s footsteps by your own choice and freewill, much will be asked of you. You begin this journey when you step beyond the border of your comfortable, known world, and open yourself to the vast, unknown realm of the sacred dark. This isn’t a journey you can control or predict. Trials may arise to test and grow you. Your fears of the dark, the unknown, and the shadow places within you may be triggered.
These things are to be expected and honored, because the Underworld, like life, is meant to test and hone you through challenges and trials. Yet great gifts and treasures also await your discovery, because what you seek is nothing less than the deep roots and wholeness of your true, beautiful Self.
Your Fall Journey, through integrated writings, activities and a guided meditation, helps you explore and embrace these powerful teachings, and make them your own as you set off on your hera journey in search of the new cycle of spiritual growth that‘s stirring for you in the depths of the sacred dark at this time.
Open to Nature’s invitation to heed the strengthening, elemental powers of darkness. Embrace the sacred dark in your spiritual pathwork of transformative change. Follow Persephone’s lead, and begin your own hera journey of self-discovery, spiritual growth and wholeness. Call up your fierce courage. Step past your fears. Leave behind the things that bind and block you from your deep roots and wholeness. Then descend into the mysteries of the sacred dark, within and without, and let them guide your Fall Journey in search of the deep, spiritual roots of your new cycle in the fall season.
Fall Journey – You Hera Path: Seeking Your Spiritual Roots
Step beyond the world you know.
Discover the transformative mysteries of the sacred dark.
Claim the deep roots and hidden gifts of the next cycle on your journey of soul.
Your Fall Journey awaits you!
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On the day of Lammas, as the sun begins its descent to the horizon, find a place indoors or outdoors where you can feel the warmth of sunshine on your skin. Make yourself comfortable and ensure that the space and your time will be private and uninterrupted.
Close your eyes and begin to track the movement and energies of your breath. On your in-breath, sink deep, deep inside of yourself and anchor within the core of your being. On your out-breath, feel your inner energies reaching beyond your skin, mingling and communing with the outer world. On your return in-breath, draw these outer encounters back inside yourself, rich with the information and energies of your dance with otherness.
Continue to bring this quality of awareness to the movements and turnings of your breath, inner to outer and back to inner again. On your out-breaths, open yourself to the seasonal energies of Lammas, with Summer still hot upon the land, but with the powers of darkness waxing. On your return in-breath, draw in the smells of the sun-baked land, the changing quality of the light and however else late Summer manifests in your part of the world.
When you feel filled up with these powerful Lammas energies, let them paint for you a flat hilltop with an expansive view of the surrounding landscape. Imagine a sunset-hued sky, with the sun descending toward the horizon. Then sense Lugh appear at your side.
Turn to face Lugh; take in the color of His eyes and hair, the look of His face and form, and the feel of His warm, all-encompassing presence. Clasp Lugh’s hands in yours; feel His strong grip and the powerful currents that course through His fingertips — His are skilled, knowing hands that wisely wield the sword that brings death to ensure the wellness and renewal of the whole. Commune with Lugh, sharing words of welcome and connection.
Lugh directs your awareness to the viewscape before you. See an expanse of cultivated land ready for harvest. This is the golden field of your life story that can show you many things, from pieces of your story and soul work that span your entire lifetime or that have come to light in your recent pathwork. It can reveal the micro details of a single memory, or the wider vista of your place and part in the weaving of greater human society. This field resides within you and is reflected in the outer manifestations of your life. It is always present, a storehouse of information and remembrances, to help you make brave, wise choices on your journey of soul.
With a palm held flat against your mid-back, Lugh fills you up with His wise knowing and truth-seeing powers. A beautiful sword, shining and sharp-edged, appears in your hand. When you gaze down at the surrounding landscape, it is as if you can see into the very heart and necessity of things.
Open yourself to whatever the field shares with you in whatever form, be it words, images, sensations, emotions, memories, insights or information. Breathe these things deep into your body, ingesting their healing, transformative lessons, and letting them nourish and change you.
With your sword, carefully, lovingly cut away the old pieces of your personal story and patterns that must now die away. Offer up this sacred chaff to the Mother Earth, knowing that She will honor your sacrifices and endings by transforming what you have cut away, in Her great composting belly, in service of new life.
Tenderly gather up the seeds of new beginnings and possibilities that reveal themselves in your winnowing work. For now, let the seeds be and do not probe any further into their contents. Hold them close to your heart, infusing them with your love and commit to follow where they lead in the next cycle of your journey of soul.
Take as long as you need for these essential Lammas tasks.
Through His touch, your awareness widens and you take in the whole of Mother Earth. You are a part of Her, and She is a part of you. Let yourself fully feel the power and importance of this primal connection; the Earth’s breath is your breath; Her body is your body; Her well-being and stability are inseparable from yours, and your healing and transformation are Hers.
As your Lammas work draws to a close, visualize the last rays of sunlight melding with the contours of the landscape before you. With every passing day, the power of the sun fades and diminishes, and the seasons of darkness and death fast approach.
A parting is upon you, for it is time to say goodbye to Lugh. Gaze upon His beautiful face, His love radiant still in the encroaching darkness. Share with Him your gratitude for His guidance and wisdom, and wish Him farewell.
The sun dips below the horizon and Lugh is gone, taking His sword with Him. Yet your hands are not empty. In their cupped interior are shining seeds that hold the dormant magic of your pathwork to come.
Let your hilltop vision fade away, and use your breath to bring you back into your physical body and waking reality. When you open your eyes, take in the quality of the light as darkness begins to descend around you. As you finish your meditation, take a few minutes to check in with your emotions.
Lammas can be a time of loss and sadness, and it also brings joy and hope. From endings and death, new life emerges. So the world and your life are forever renewed in the waning light of Lammas.
Excerpt from: Path of She Book of Sabbats. Available on Amazon.
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