It’s a wild and crazy week for me, getting wilder and crazier. With that in mind I am posting my weekly stretch early because my husband, Bob, and I are welcoming dear friends from Canada to our home for a 5-day visit and we will be touring New York City with them on Thursday when I usually write and post.
The holiday of Halloween is actually rooted in the Celtic New Year. Halloween is believed to have arisen from the Celtic festival of Samhain, which celebrated the end of the lighter half of the year and coming of the darker half. In reading an article in Parabola Magazine on the topic I had one or two moments of realization that may be useful to you as well.
First, in complete honesty, as a child my whole year pivoted on Halloween. I loved dressing up and I LOVED candy. Imagine? A kid loving candy? This kid still loves candy, unfortunately. But Halloween Trick or Treating has lost its luster. Year after year I’ve left a huge vat of candy outside my door (so that I could work with a client for an hour and so that the doorbell wouldn’t ring making Sophie bark) with a sign that asks the kids to take one or two pieces each and leave some for others, only to find an hour later that it is all gone. I promise you that much candy doesn’t disappear in one hour on a quiet street like mine unless someone decides to dump it all and run. I tested my theory and lo and behold…I was correct. Since we moved to our new home two years ago I thought I’d give it another try in a new neighborhood and…poof…same thing happened. It took about 5 minutes. So now I donate money to the local foodbank instead and it’s lights out at the “D” household on Halloween. I do miss seeing the little ones and hearing those cute little voices – ”Trick or Treeeeet” while they wait expectantly at the door to see what kind of the candy will be dropped into their little plastic pumpkin. So cute.
Samhain, on the other hand, has some real significance for me this year. I have historically had a love/hate relationship with Fall because while I love the vibrant color and the delicious smells and the crispy sounds under my feet, I dread the loss of light and the onset of the dreary frigid days of winter that it portends. The wisdom of Samhain is that the “veil” between worlds is very thin at this time of year, and continues to thin through the winter solstice when it is the thinnest. What this means is that if we listen carefully we can receive vivid clear messages and guidance from beyond the veil. What it means to me is that when “the darkness” arrives I am less distracted and more receptive to that guidance and to those messages, and for this I am exceedingly grateful. In ancient cultures darkness was actually celebrated and invited. Lights were extinguished to give the darkness the space needed to engulf the world in its wisdom. Lamps and candles were blown out in reverence for the darkness and its mysteries.
Parabola Magazine offered this: “Even if we think we’ve forgotten this ancient understanding, evidence of it remains. All-Hallows-Even or Eve (evening), falls on the night before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day, a traditional mass day of the saints. This is a celebration of the hallowed ones, the ones who have gone beyond the limitations, the likes and dislikes and blind spots that blind the rest of us. Renunciation and practice made these holy beings whole in the sense of being able to embrace all human possibilities and the wholeness of life, light and dark. Nothing human was foreign to them. Nothing was unforgivable and unlovable. Built right into our trick-or-treating holiday is the implication that we must dare to embrace the darkness, to be with the unknown and frightening, to fully love and live. “
So this year as the darkness continues to descend evening after evening I am setting an intention to welcome it rather than dread it. I’m asking the darkness to bestow its wisdom upon me, knowing that as I move into my own brand of hibernation there will be many gifts and illuminations to light my way through. And when light evades me completely, I pledge to surrender my whole self to it allowing the silence and absence of light enhance my intuition and my ability to fully live in balance…light and dark each given their due. Frankly, this is a mighty stretch for me and I expect I’ll need to remind myself of this pledge from time to time. But, I am willing and open to a new way to approach this time of year with an expectation that come Spring I just might be stronger, wiser, and more complete than ever before. I sincerely hope you will hang in there with me and together we will see what happens on the other side. Meantime, it’s likely I’ll be reporting weekly progress…or whatever manifests along the way. My intention – make darkness my friend.
STRETCH: How can you embrace the darkness? Can you imagine welcoming your shadow as you would an old friend? Take some time to notice when you feel an absence of light and consciously make space for the wisdom the darkness has to share with you. Be still and listen.