The Wheel of Time turns, and we are now in the magical period that ancient Celts and modern Witches call Samhain. Traditionally celebrated on Halloween, the actual cross-quarter day is Nov. 7 this year. During this time, the Veil that lies between the living and the departed, and between what is past, present and future is thin. Consensual reality shifts, and other dimensions are revealed, enabling us to communicate more clearly with our beloved dead as well as our Otherworldly guides and allies.
Halloween and All Saints Day have their origin in the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain. In the modern Gaelic languages, the name of the feast means “summer’s end.” In the modern Brythonic languages, the name of the feast means “the first day of winter.”
The Celts honored the intertwining forces of existence: darkness and light, night and day, cold and heat, death and life. Celtic knotwork art represents this intertwining. They observed time as proceeding from darkness to light. Thus, the Celtic day began at dusk, the beginning of the dark and cold night, and ended the following dusk, the end of a day of light and warmth.
Similarly, the Celtic year began with An Geamhradh (“an gyow-ragh”), the dark Celtic winter, and ended with Am Foghar (“am fu-ghar”), the Celtic harvest. So Samhain marks the beginning of both An Geamhradh and the new Celtic year.
What a great idea to celebrate New Year’s now, instead of Jan. 1 — I highly recommend it!
On January 1, the activities of the holidays leave many of us financially, emotionally, and energetically drained. Many people find themselves paying penance for the various types of excesses that seem to accompany the holiday season, from too much food and drink, to sticker shock from spending, to emotional hangovers of every stripe. Seems like a pretty difficult time to make a realistic assessment of how we’d actually like to shape our coming year.
For instance, over 50 percent of Americans vow every January to diet and/or exercise more in the coming year. Now there is nothing wrong with this resolution. In fact, for most of us, it is much needed. But attempting to change our lifestyle during the first days of January is bound to be difficult.
Even if the holidays are no big deal at your house, the prospect of developing healthy exercise and eating habits just when you are entering into the long, dark time of Winter is daunting. How much better it would seem to get started now, when there are still fresh fruits and veggies available, and the beautiful weather of Autumn still beckons you to get outdoors.
Few people can really avoid or ignore the energy of the December holiday season, though, at least in the U.S. The pressures of travel, shopping, parties, spending, family issues, and finishing work projects by year’s end are enormous. And just at the tail end of weeks of this, you are going to make a commitment to change or growth?
In many magical traditions, we are asked to make commitments for “a year and a day.” Today, I suggest that you celebrate your very own, very personal New Year’s Day. Help yourself to some Hoppin’ John and champagne if you’d like. Together, in the ancient tradition of the Ancestors, let us make this day our own doorway to renewal. Surrounded by bounty and beauty, we are in the ideal position to evaluate what we have received in the past year, and then decide what we would now like to change, or add, or learn, or empower for the coming year and a day.
For these are the New Year’s resolutions that we make in our own private hearts, with our own quiet timetable. They can be chosen without the guilt, hoopla or exhaustion of the popular culture. For the promises that are the most important to keep are the ones we make to ourselves.
Today, with all the help available from our own intuition, as well as the Guides and Beloved Dead who accompany us, may we each make very wise ones.
Happy New Year!