Over the weekend my coven and I celebrated Samhain together. It is our first Samhain season working as a group and so this ritual was very special. The ritual was beautiful and impactful. The weather was seasonable and mostly dry. We were able to spend time outside by the fire and make some special memories.
During our ritual time we honored the Crone and threw things into her cauldron. We toasted the New Year and talked about our dreams for the future. We created this spiral of lights so we could spiral in and out, each one of us having some one on one time with the goddess.
One of the coven members gave a fantastic presentation on the Crone. We each chose a Crone’s token from a bowl on our way out of the circle. I drew the rune Fehu.
We ended our evening with Pizza and a group viewing of Practical Magic to add a little fun to it all! We filled up on brownies and other sweets. At the end of the night I was exhausted but full. My cup filled by time with my coven and time with the Crone.
I am currently on a stay-cation. I’m using the time to turn inward and focus on the season. Tomorrow is Samhain/Halloween and I plan to spend time with my family. I’m hoping the weather holds so we can go to the corn maze. I’m still battling depression and so this time to slow down and breathe has been very helpful.
It is that time of the year again. I love October! My Samhain/Day of the Dead altar is all set up and it makes me smile every time I see it. Because my ancestors are both Celtic and Mexican my altar reflects both parts of my heritage. I try very hard to create an inviting atmosphere for any ancestors passing through to stop and be with me for a spell if they wish.
October brings so many gifts, my first hot chocolate of the season, first hot apple cider, and pumpkin everything! The trees are at their peak and covered with bright colored leaves. Everything around me is beautiful and yet there is a dark gloomy cloud following me around. SAD has hit and I have a feeling this year is going to be a bad one. I’m not sure if it is worse this fall or if it just seems worse because I’ve had such a good spring and summer. I’ve spent most of the growing season feeling super energized and inspired. Now I’ve landed on the ground hard and I’m scrambling to get it all under control. It has been creeping in for a couple of weeks but I thought maybe I was just having a natural reaction to the dumpster fire happening daily in U.S. politics. I finally realized over the weekend that this is the real thing and I better start dealing with it.
Truth be told I like the dark time of the year. Spring and summer are hard for me due to allergies and asthma. Once we have had a nice frost I feel like I can breathe again and I kind of come alive. I know that as we turn towards the dark time of the year we are turning towards Samhain (my favorite turn of the wheel) and the winter holidays. I like gathering with friends and family for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Solstice. I like hibernation and cozy afternoons by the fire. Sadly all of this wonderful comes with a war against depression. It is a battle I fight yearly and if you fight it too here are some things that might help…
If you work with gods/goddesses keep communicating with them. I tend to isolate and I stop talking to everyone including my deities. Share with your deities. If I have a cookie or something else delicious I will leave an offering. It might not seem like much but that simple act can help keep your connection alive in the hard times and also remind you that you are never alone.
Light up your home! If you like candles burn them often, if you can’t burn candles keep your home well lit. Open the shades and meditate on the beauty of the natural world. Try to position yourself where you can get some natural light and if you need it use a lightbox. Maybe consider working with a deity associated with the sun and see if that helps to brighten things up.
Do something nice for someone else. It can be easy when you are depressed to become very self-focused. Plan a get together with some witchy friends and watch a movie or read tarot cards for each other. Whatever you like to do is fine. A great topic of conversation during the dark months is gratitude. Get together with friends and talk about what you are grateful for and maybe make a group offering of gratitude. Leaving an offering for the wildlife in your neighborhood would be greatly appreciated during the hard winter months.
Carrying some stones on your person might help. I recommend Smoky Quartz for absorbing negative energy, Citrine to help put your brain in a more positive place, and finally Rose Quartz for healing and to soothe your nerves. I find that both Lavender and Lemon Balm help me when I’m struggling. I also use orange essential oil in my diffuser to keep my spirits up. I like brightly colored candles for any magick I work around depression. So a bright orange or yellow candle would work best for me. If soothing is what I need then a lavender or light green colored candle works best. Make your magick work for you, these are only suggestions, use what speaks to you personally.
Turning towards the dark and shadow work is a part of every year for me. The key is to not get stuck in the darkness. When I spend time at my altar it can be easy to become sad and lonely. I miss my mother very much. When I find myself in this place emotionally I try to let myself feel what I feel and then let it go. I chase the sadness with all of the good memories I have of my beloved dead. Sadness is normal but I also know that they would not want me to dwell in that sad place forever.
How are you handling the season? If you have depression how do you deal with it? Do you use magick to make it better?
Wow! Things have changed for me over the last week or so. Once I decided to start a new coven it feels like the whole universe has broken open for me. Between that and it being the Samhain season I am feeling a bit unbalance and I am having to try to reach towards being somewhat more grounded. The good part of all of this is I can feel delicious passionate energy for my craft rushing through my veins. I’m so grateful for that. This weekend my hubby and I will be heading out to the woods of Wisconsin for a little camping adventure. I think the trip will help me ground myself. It will be good to unplug and soak up some earth energy. How is your Samhain season going? Do you have any exciting plans?
It might seem like an odd time of year to be talking about new life but I have some to share. I have been wondering what my big harvest is going to be this year. What I have discovered is that starting a new coven is my big harvest. Now I knew this was coming but I did not think it would come this fast. That being said, the goddess (Morrighan) has been pushing me out of my comfort zone and back into the mix since last spring. I’m one of those people who plans and thinks about something and then when the time feels right I pull the trigger. I often can feel it coming but I just don’t know how soon. When it happens it usually surprises others but I’m often more than ready to go. My mind is buzzing with ideas and excitement at this new adventure. I feel truly restored after a year of working on it. I’m not as afraid as I thought I might be. I have done a lot of letting go and so I’m not so worried about what others will think or how they will respond. Don’t worry, I’m going to be careful to heed the lessons learned from the past. It feels good to be in the center of where I want to be after striving for so long.
This one is kind of tied to motherhood but its roots are deeper than that. I was raised United Pentecostal and taught my whole childhood that women are the servants of the home. She has to submit to her husband and the home is pretty much her responsibility. I was also taught that women should be silent in church and I watched all the women around me doing the grunt work of running the church while the men took all of the glory. Now I’ve been a feminist witch for a long time and I do not still believe these teachings are right, at least not on a conscious level. That being said I do see how these teachings crept into some pretty hard to get to cracks of my mind. When something is taught to you from such a young age you often spend much of your adult life finding the remnants and trying to get free from them.
This letting go is about freedom and taking the time to serve myself. I feel that having a fresh empty nest is a good time to work on this. I have space now to focus on my needs and ambitions. I hope that no one thinks I’m trying to be selfish, it isn’t about being selfish it is about creating balance.
I know that my attitudes regarding all of this had a big effect on how I worked within the pagan community before I left. I came at it from a place of servitude. How can I serve the community? It did not take long for that to turn into me being taken advantage of. I can’t really blame myself, I was doing what I thought was right. Now if all things were equal and everyone had an attitude of service it might have been ok. It became about what I could do/provide for them and not about what I could get in return. All that giving is what burned me out. In the end, I was left with an empty cup. Now as I ponder rejoining some kind of pagan community I know my approach will be very different. I’m not going to be anyone’s servant. I will put my shoulder to the plough when it is needed but I will not do it alone.
All the blogging and journalling I have been doing about this is really helping me to gain clarity. I’m heading towards Samhain with a very good vision for what I need to release and what I want to bring in.
I know that I will always be a mother and I love my children very much. Motherhood has been a huge part of my identity and at times it has eclipsed everything else. I’m not saying I’m ready to shift into cronehood, it more that I’m ready to shift into queendom. It is time to let go of full-time motherhood. I spent 25 years having minor kids at home and now my nest is empty. Thankfully the goddess has helped me prepare for this and because of that, I’m handling it better than expected. I can only vaguely remember my life before motherhood. It exists in this dream-like place that is pretty hard to access. Now standing in my empty nest I can clearly see the daily sacrifices I have made. They add up to a mountain of time and compromise. I’m proud of the work I have done. At times I ache inside because I don’t feel like my kids see me or know who I really am. I think some of them are still in that selfish stage of life. I wonder if other mothers wish for their kids to see them as human and not as the superhuman role that is the mother. Letting go of this part of motherhood means daring to be who I’ve always wanted to be. I have no more excuses about being tied to raising children. So much is bundled up in this. I can wake when I want and sleep when I want. I can create in the midst of feverish inspiration. I don’t have to be home or away. There is much to unpack here. Some of the reason I want to let go of this role is that my kids need me to be different now. Plus they can be a rather judgemental lot, everything I do is scrutinized and analyzed. Do we think mom should be doing that? I know that some of them worry about my political activism and are worried that I might get hurt. They worry about what kind of job I’m going to take and how it might affect the family. Just as they need me to step back and let them make mistakes and live their life, I need to start living my own life. This means daring to do the things they might not approve of. It means living for me for the first time ever.
I’m going to do some blogging about Samhain and letting go. The first thing on my list is fathers. In the simplest form, my father and all of the things he did to hurt me during my childhood and young adulthood. My father loved me, of that I have no doubt, but it was a very selfish kind of love. I feel like I have dealt with most of my issues with him but there is still a bit of work left to do. There are still ways in which I see his influence in how I see myself and my value. He was the first man to abandon me and because of that time and again I sought to find men who would do the same thing. Within my shadow lurks my father telling me time and again that my value is my beauty and that my intelligence (perhaps the trait I value most in myself) only exists because of him. I’m smart because I’m his daughter, I’m physically strong because he taught me to be, and I’m pretty because he was so handsome. Nothing came to me because of my hard work or because of my thoughts, that belong only to me. With this Samhain, I hope to root out the last of that pain and finally be able to no longer hear his voice in the back of my head. This is deep shadow work. My dad influenced both the things I like best and the things I like least about myself.
After all that it is time to turn my attention to my kid’s fathers. Looking back I see them as choices made from a place of desperation. Both of them brought destruction into my life and they both continue to lash out at me. They have been backseat drivers with regards to all of the work of parenting. Not around to do any of the heavy lifting (or spending) but always there to comment on my appearance and whatever life choices I might make. If the kids had success it was in spite of me and if they had troubles it was because of me. I have made a pretty big effort to remove them from my life, but still, they sit on the sidelines and heckle. My goal is to really let them go now that all of the kids have left the nest. I’m done receiving child support from them and so that cord is cut. Like my father, this is a rooting out of the last remnants of their influence. When they say things about me that are hurtful or untrue it still stings. It may be asking too much for that sting to go away but I’m gonna try.
All this matters so much because I’m stepping into a new phase in my life. No more kids at home and freedom to choose what I want to do and with whom I want to do it. Shadow work is afoot but I’m not worried, with the gods and my ancestors on my side I know I can do anything.
My month with Anu has come to a close and I am very grateful. It did not play out as I expected. I thought it would be a month full of ritual and meditation. What it became was a month of connection with my ancestors and a new appreciation for where I came from. Many puzzle pieces in my life came together quietly and simply. Working with Anu opened my eyes making it easier for me to see what needs to change. It wasn’t jarring or overwhelming, it was a gentle recognition of the places where I have lost myself. I don’t want to give too much away as much of this is deeply personal. What I can say is I feel stronger about trusting my intuition than I have ever felt. Ritual is wonderful, but it is not the end all be all of my connection with the divine. Sometimes she whispers to me on the wind and no candles are required. That is what my Samhain experience was like this year.
Today I sat down with my journal and a very sharp pencil to try to make some sense of Samhain. Usually what happens is I have no idea what I want to do and then it all comes together in the moment. As I put a pencil to paper today everything just came pouring out of me. I have been spending a lot of time communing with the ancestors, thanks to Anu, and so I have been revisiting the past. As I have reached for the past I feel the past reaching forward towards me. As the veil is thinning and thinning I feel like I can almost reach out and touch them. Memories surface of napping with grandpa in an olive-green chair with a green leafy pattern on it. Every other piece of furniture had plastic on it, it was like grandpa and his chair were real and the rest was cold and fake. Great grandpa did not have a comfy chair. His chair was wooden and hard and his lap felt bony and breakable. I would sit with him and sing songs in exchange for candy. Both grandpa and great grandpa had deep pockets filled with candy. To this day when I taste a butterscotch candy my mind travels back to them. They were not in my life for a very long time. Great grandpa passed when I was 11 and he was 98. Soon after my grandpa moved to Florida. These two men were the only positive males in my childhood. It makes sense that as the veil thins I would sense them here. I’m sure they were complicated men but in my child’s memory of them, they are simple, good, and accepting.
My word for next year (Samhain is my new year) is restoration. I feel that I have much to restore within. This word was the first seed on my path to understanding what my Samhain work would be. I also intend to return to working with the Queen archetype. I worked with her a few years ago and kind of fell away from it, or so I thought. I realized today that I have read so many books about so many queens and even if I wasn’t understanding why I was still working with the queen. This morning I revisited that archetype and looked at her light and dark aspects.
Now I only have to decide what the formal working will be. I know I need to clean house and get rid of some things in order to make room for fresh things to come in. I know it will come to me when the time is right.