It is Scorpio’s season: Mercury will be retrograde in Scorpio for much of November, and here in dark, rainy, leaf-strewn post-Hallowe’en Glasgow, Scotland, I’m in meditative mood.
It’s now 1st November – Samhain – Samhain has been celebrated for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again.
It is a contemplative time; a time for honouring the renewing power of darkness, and for facing the humbling fact that everything passes, including us….
Here is an extract from a beautiful essay by Starhawk:
‘…For Pagans, death and birth are intertwined. Our goddesses and gods all represent aspects of the cycle of birth, growth, death, and regeneration. Every good gardener knows that fertility is born out of decay. Every fallen leaf becomes part of the soil that feeds the roots of growing trees.
Pagans have no dogma that must be accepted. Our spirituality centers on experience, not faith. Yet if we were to hold one common belief, it might be that our individuality lives on after death. We remain part of our communities, alive and present in a different realm.
At Samhain, we take time to remember and commune with those who have gone before, to express gratitude for what they’ve given us. In our frantic pace, we tend to forget our past. Few of us know much about our families beyond a generation or two back. Remembering the dead can help us keep a sense of connection to our roots.
A public ritual to acknowledge the dead is a statement that grief is valued.
In the heart of the ritual is a long, quiet meditation in which we read the names of those who have died in the past year. The death of someone we love is too hard to face alone. When someone dies, we need the comfort of community support. Even though we believe the dead are not severed from us, we understand the pain and loss of their going.
Samhain is also a celebration of renewal. When we dance our spiral, we weave a vision of all that we want to create in the new year:
May the old ones and the young be loved,
And all the forms of love be blessed,
And all the colors of our skin be praised,
And all the cycles of life be saved.
May all who hunger now be fed,
May we heal the earth that grows our bread…’
Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows’ Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honouring the dead.
We need the dark, as this festival of Samhain reminds us. Within the year’s natural cycle, the diurnal alternation of light and dark brings restful silence at night and the restorative power of sleep, without which all creatures including us would burn out and die before their time. We are in danger of forgetting this – at our peril – as an increasingly technology-driven culture sweeps the world, creating the illusion that we can live sustainably and healthily in defiance of the ancient rhythms set by the great cycles of nature.
The Great Round of conception, birth, maturation, decline, death and rebirth applies to everything, from gnats to galaxies. Human endeavour is not exempt.
Perhaps our whole culture/civilisation is in its Winter phase – the signs of descent are everywhere, should we care to look…….and in the meantime, I try to stay with my current mantra “Start where you are, and do what you can.” Renewal, whether we live to see it or not, is always round the corner….
What are YOUR thoughts and feelings regarding the Descent into winter? It would be interesting to have them!
700 words ©Anne Whitaker/Starhawk 2019
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page
7 thoughts on “A meditation in Scorpio’s season…”
Anne, I really enjoyed this. I have printed and will keep nearby, your mantra. As much as I love this season and appreciate the natural rhythms and the inherent power of living them, this year feels a bit different. I look forward to the shorter days and longer nights, which I have considered a gift these last ten years or so. However sleep is challenging these days. And so, I wonder…as I wander into each day.
Yes, well, wandering into each day, wondering, seems to be the orientation for many of us these strange and troubling days, Carrie! However, I try to remind myself that, culturally, we have no more immunity to turbulence than humans in any other phase of especially difficult change throughout history..We may be very very clever creatures, but we still don’t have much in the way of emotional or spiritual intelligence!
Yes, indeed, Anne! Very well said!
I love the move into winter. The shorter days bring challenges–colder weather to work in, and less time to accomplish tasks–but winter brings candles, and old rituals, and a slower pace. The birds of summer may have flown, but winter birds arrive, and fewer tourists are about — perhaps one of the greater blessings of the season! I hear so many people grumping about winter’s arrival, and I suppose those who are forced to deal with months of cold, snow, and ice can’t be as sanguine as I am, but as you say: it’s part of the cycle, and learning to embrace it as best we can is a good winter’s task.
Amen to that, Linda!
I also love this season……being in the Autumn of my life, I enjoy the slowing down, the freshness of frosty mornings, the shorter days and cosy fires. This is also what I love about my practice of Qigong. Being so connected to nature is wonderful.
I hear what you’re saying about us going into winter politically at the moment. Amazing (and frightening) to see the shadow side so clearly, but your mantra really makes sense.
Thank you for your wonderful writings. I’m happy you are also in Scotland! ☺️🙏
Thanks so much for dropping by, for your poetic comment, and for your kind words re my writing. Re our politics, see my comment to Carrie. We 21st century folk have no privileges when it comes to discomfort and alarm re the current turbulence…