Sabbats

Honoring the Mysteries of Samhain

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.

The Crossroads call to you at Samhain, a place of endings that promise new beginnings, where your destiny is woven by the choices you make.

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 ancests 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.

Death on your journey of soul is not about physical death, but about soul-sourced, life-changing endings. And this can very much feel like death, stirring up your pain, sorrow, fear and resistance.

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.

Between the worlds, in the heart of the sacred dark, the Goddess Hecate stands at Her crossroads, offering the beacon of Her shining love-light and Her Crone wisdom to guide you in this season of life-changing endings.

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.

At Samhain, your journey of soul leads you to Hecate’s crossroads in search of the deepest roots of your personal healing and 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. 

Buy now at the Path Store.

 

Artwork by Menton J Matthews III

Making Magic: A Tender’s View of a Samhain Ritual

We gather in a heritage hall on my island home for our Samhain ritual.  Warm bodies squeeze close together to form a circle of pagan and non-pagan folks, grownups and children, and even a couple of dogs, with the room filled to capacity.

It’s been a hard, heartbreaking year for our community. There have been many deaths. The Ancestors altar is covered with photographs and mementos of those that have passed. I feel this collective grief in my own heart and in this gathering. Samhain is the time when we honor and name those we’ve lost this year and commune with our Beloved Dead.

As a Tender for our community ritual, my role is to be a guardian and observer as we enter the mysterious, powerful, sorrowful experience of Samhain.

Photo Credit: Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Yet there’s more than grief and loss in the room. At the opposite end of the cycle of life are the youth, our children, and the souls waiting to be born. These beings we honor on the Descendants altar and through the naming of the newborns this year.

I stand beside the Ancestors altar with another priestess. Across the circle from us, two priestesses stay by the Descendants altar. The four us will be calling in the Ancestors and Descendants, and then shifting into paired partners of Deep Witness and Tender.

The Deep Witnesses don’t actively participate in the ritual. They sit — veiled, empty and silent — acting as anchors and observers of the deep dream of our magic. I’m one of the Tenders. Our priestess role is to support and protect our Deep Witness, and to stay by her side for the duration of the ritual.

As the ritual begins, I notice that I feel different than my usual, high-intensity magical engagement. I’m somber, watchful and empty present — a guardian and observer of the Deep Witness and our community as we enter the powerful, mysterious and mournful experience of Samhain.

Together we create sacred space. The circle is cast. We ground.  The Elements are called in through song.  Goddesses and other Mysteries are invoked.  Our priestess group calls in the Ancestors and Descendants.

I listen from the edge of the action, attuned to the movements of bodies, weaving of energy, and quality of presence, more than the individual words and actions.  I step forward to do my calling in task and then settle into my role as Tender.

We move on to the reading of the names of the dead who have passed this year — what is remembered lives. And the dead come, slipping past the veil that separates us, to drink of our grief, our love, and our honoring.

I notice how natural this is, how right for us to be with our honored dead in these ways. They move among us, touching the faces of their beloved kin with their hands of light, soothing the broken hearts of those left behind, letting us know that they are still with us, just a thought, a name, a song away.

Two priestesses begin to trace a path in the center of the circle, one drumming and together weaving a hauntingly beautiful guided trance to the Isle of Apples, the Pagan Land of the Dead.  Everyone settles into a comfortable position and makes their way to the blessed Isle to commune with their Beloved Dead.

The Sacred Witnesses don’t make this journey, nor do we, their Tenders. Together we anchor this magical circle, while the Sacred Witnesses hold vigil and observe all with their dream eyes. My only job is to stand guard. I don’t pry into the visioning of the ritual participants, nor of the Sacred Witnesses. Whatever is happening here is intensely soul-to-soul private.

I notice a current of power that runs between the two Sacred Witnesses: one an anchor for the lineage of Ancestors that stretches into the far distant past, and the other an anchor for the lineage of Descendants that reaches into the far distant future. I sway back and forth, back and forth, my movements an involuntary response to the magnetic pulse of whole time, where the future and the past are both present in this now moment, and the yet to be born, the dead and the living share this communal, magical space.

The two priestesses speak once more, calling the ritual participants to rise up and dance the Spiral Dance with their Beloved Dead, and with the Souls of the Unborn who also reside on the Isle of Apples. Hand to hand, the dancers form a moving spiral that turns inward toward the circle center, and then back outward again. Dancers pass each other by, shining face to shining face, with voices raised in song.

I first notice how crowded the space is, not only with the living, but also with our unseen guests of the Beloved Dead and the Unborn. My guardian instincts kick in, and I expand my energy to create a protective barrier between the Sacred Witness and the dancers.

Yet the Sacred Witness is unfazed. She rocks and sways with the music and building energy of the dance. This energy is immense, intense, but also peaceful, harmonious, and so, so heart-wrenching.

Tears run down my cheeks. Love is what fills this room, overflowing from heart to heart. Love that joins us all in this raw, bittersweet dance of death, life and birth.

This is how we hold our grief and losses; with this much love, power and presence. We are one community: the living, the dead and the yet to be born. The spiral dance is life itself, a turning into and out of the mortal coil of our flesh and bones form.

As the Spiral Dance and guided journey come to a close with words of parting and gratitude for the Beloved Dead and the Unborn, it’s time to honor and name the newborns for this year, and to circle back to the celebratory beginnings of life.

Then there’s one last task before the circle is opened: the Deep Witnesses speak on behalf of the Ancestors and Descendants.

The Ancestors remind us that we are each a light in these dark times, and we must shine our brightest to make this world a better place. The Descendants tell us that special souls are being born to this world, and that we must make space for them and heed their teachings.

I notice how everyone in the room turns their rapt attention to the Deep Witnesses as they speak. When the Mysteries walk among us, our only job is to listen to the power of their voices, and the hope in their messages. The Ancestors and Descendants leave us with sacred responsibilities: to show up as our bright shining Selves, and to welcome and honor the newborns and our children as teachers and guides. This is how we can mend and remake our world for the better.

For this Samhain eve, our magic is done. We devoke, thanking and saying goodbye to all that we’ve called in. Priestesses and participants alike are called back from the Mysteries to return to the waking world. Our circle is opened, yet unbroken.

As a community, we share food and conversation afterwards, and I continue my Tender duties until my priestess companion is fully returned from her Deep Witness journey and grounded in her human form. Then it’s time to go home, nourished, healed and transformed by our evening of magic.

The next day, I notice that I’m filled with a profound sense of well-being and wholeness. Magic makes me whole. Honoring death, loss and grief makes me whole. Deep communion with the Beloved Dead, the Unborn, the Ancestors and Descendants makes me whole. Sharing these essential things with my community makes me whole. Love makes me whole.

Let this wholeness be our prayer and our practice in the year to come.

Honor the Mysteries of Samhain

with the Path of She Book of Sabbats. 

Buy now at the Path Store.

Ritual Credit: This Samhain ritual practice arises out of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft.

 

Fall Journey: The Sacred Dark, Persephone and Your Hera Path

Excerpt from: Fall Journey – Your Hera Path: Seeking Your Spiritual Roots: Available at the Path Store.

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.

Follow in Persephone’s footsteps. Begin your hera journey. Descend into the sacred dark in search of the deep roots of your next cycle of spiritual growth.

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.

You too are an inhabitant of Mother Earth, with your primal instincts connected to these natural rhythms and cyclical powers of light, life, darkness and death. The softer light, colder weather and shorter days speak to your creature body, prompting you to make changes in your life.

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.

On your Fall Journey, Persephone can guide your hera journey of descent into the rich depths of the Underworld realm of the sacred dark, sourcing its hidden mysteries and gifts as you seek out the deep roots of the new cycle of spiritual growth emerging for you at this time. 

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!

 

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Deepen Your Spiritual Journey: Four Lessons for the Fall Season

In the fall season, Nature leaves behind the powers of light, drawing inward to stillness and the sacred dark of Mother Earth, where the sleeping potential of new life resides.

So too your spiritual journey calls you inward to quiet and reflection, compelling you to seek within the secret desires, dormant gifts and lost stories of your inner sacred dark where your sleeping potential resides. New beginnings await you in the sacred dark.

Deepen your spiritual journey in the fall season. Leave behind the world you know. Enter the mysteries of the sacred dark, where new beginnings await you.

Here are four lessons to deepen your spiritual work in the fall season.

1. Step beyond the world you know, and turn your awareness toward the unknown of the sacred dark.

Commit to travel the deepest roots of your spiritual journey. Call up your courage and determination. Lessen your grip on the things you hold true and dear. Open to the mysteries of your inner sacred dark, and let them guide your spiritual work.

2. What you hunger for waits for you in the sacred dark.

Heed your soul’s hunger to seek out your greater becoming. Whatever you truly need to be whole waits for you in the sacred dark of your inner landscape. Here you can discover and reclaim the lost, precious parts of yourself that can nourish your soul and make your life anew.

3. Suffering and sacrifice are integral parts of your spiritual work.

Don’t expect your spiritual work to be pretty or easy. Honor the lessons and experiences that come to you, especially those that challenge you the most. Know that this is how life is meant to teach and grow you. Great beauty, wisdom and resilience emerge from the depth of your struggles.

4. It’s the journey itself that transforms you.

You grow and mature by consciously engaging your life experiences, both the positive and negative. It’s this very toil of sweat and soul that changes you. Life, with its joys and sorrows, is the crucible of your greater becoming.

Are you ready to deepen your spiritual journey?

 The Fall Journey: Your Hera Journey  reconnects you with the seasonal energies of the Earth, the mysteries of the Goddess, and the deepest roots of your life’s purpose and story.

The Fall season is the perfect time to start your hera journey: to step beyond the world you know, heed your soul’s hunger, and discover the new beginnings that await you in the sacred dark.

The Fall Journey includes: a Guidebook (pdf ebook), Journal (pdf ebook), and Guided Meditation (mp3 audio)  that offer an integrated, seven lesson program with wisdom teachings, awareness practice and journaling exercises, and a guided meditation.

Buy now at the Path Store: Fall Journey

Artwork: Karen Koski

Lammas: Harvesting Your Soul Lessons

Excerpt from The Path of She Book of Sabbats.

Lammas marks the end of the current cycle of your journey of soul. The wheel of the year has turned from darkness and death, through light and life, and now shines out the last of this season’s light before a new cycle begins. So too you’ve come to the end of one turning of your journey; it’s time to harvest its bounty of life lessons and personal growth, and to seek out the seeds of your next cycle.

Lammas calls you to harvest the bounty of your soul lessons. Seek out natural endings and the seeds of the new beginnings in the waning light of Lammas.

At Lammas, the summer sunshine has baked the land a golden yellow. Fruits, berries and grains bend branches and stalks with their plump ripeness, ready to offer up their bounty to the harvest. Yet the outer look of things can be deceiving. Day by day, the light wanes and the dark waxes; cold will soon replace heat, and the powers of death overtake those of life. The balance has shifted, and the abundance that is now so evident will soon be gone.

Lammas is the pagan celebration of the early harvest, with grains, such as wheat and corn, playing a central role in the symbolism of this time of year. The golden fields of grain are ready for harvesting. What has been tended and brought to full fruition must now be cut down to feed hungry bellies. Some living things are sacrificed to nourish other living things, and to ensure the continuity and wellness of the whole. With death comes the miracle of rebirth, held within the seeds and their promise of a new harvest.

This theme of self-chosen sacrificial death in support of life and rebirth infuses the mythic roots of Lammas. The Corn King, John Barleycorn and the Harvest King are some of the names given to the sacrificial God who gathers His energy into the crops that are cut down at Lammas to feed the living and to ensure a new harvest in Spring. In Celtic mythology, the Goddess Tailtiu cleared the land for cultivation as a gift to the people, and died from Her tremendous efforts. Lammas is also called Lughnasadh, in reference to the Celtic God Lugh. Tailtiu is Lugh’s foster mother, and legend has it that Lugh instituted a Lughnasadh harvest festival and games in Her honor.

Your journey of soul calls you to this same theme of self-chosen sacrifice in service of your personal healing and transformation. You must be willing to harvest your soul lessons and cut away those things that are now complete or that block your future growth. Some things must die in your life for something new to be reborn.

It is Lugh — the Shining One, the many-skilled God, bearing His Sword of Light — that illuminates your Lammas harvest pathwork.  Lugh meets you on a hilltop, offering you a wide-ranging viewscape that can help you see deep into the heart of your life story, and deep into the heart of the struggles of the Mother Earth, as one cycle of your journey of soul and one turning of our collective humanity end, and a new cycle and turning begin. In these profound mysteries of life, death and rebirth, Lugh is your luminescent, loving guide as you embrace the incisive, demanding, and often painful tasks that Lammas asks of you.

At its core, Lammas is a season of hope and the miracle of new beginnings. In the golden field that is your life story, you can find everything you need to heal your soul, transform your life and mend our world. Within you are the lessons, endings and seeds of a powerful new beginning that can lead you ever closer home to your Deep Self and authentic humanity.

Celebrate Lammas with the Path of She Book of Sabbats. 

Buy now at the Path Store

 

Artwork by Qistina Khalidah