I’ve spent over a week reflecting on what I should write about in this next blog piece. I got stuck on the idea of planning and running a series that flowed from one topic to the next. But life isn’t like that. It doesn’t flow in a linear motion. That said, everything is connected in the great web of life...
So, while future blogs may appear to be random (and consciously they probably are), there will always be a connection, a common thread that weaves itself through the topics of life. Sometimes that thread will be visible and at other times it may seem a little more tenuous….
I think the point I’m making in my roundabout way, is that life feels like it’s been in this in-between space for a few weeks now. Can you feel it? This space, otherwise known as liminal space, is a space we enter typically when standing on the edge of a threshold in life. It is a space where you can leave behind what you perceive to be true of your physical world and begin to examine the truth with fresh, curious, and almost childlike eyes. This is the space that given appropriate attention, time, and freedom, can transform your very being. It’s one of those spaces that allows you to edge ever closer to your authentic self if you so desire.
How fitting that these past couple of weeks have felt like this very space. And as we approach the festival of Samhain too. Now, this isn’t intended to be a blog about Samhain, but for those that are curious, I will whet your appetite with a brief narrative….
The origins of Samhain (pronounced sow-in and known in the modern day by the Christian term, Halloween) lie in the Celtic Autumn Fire Festival, which begins on the sunset of the eve (31 st October) and is held on the first day of the eleventh month. Samhain literally translates to Summers’ End. It’s all about marking seasonal change and is the start of the New Year for the Celts (because the passage of a day begins with darkness and progresses into light, and so winter, the season of long, dark nights, also marks the beginning of a year which progresses into the lighter days of spring, summer and autumn). At Samhain then, we see ourselves ‘between years’ or ‘in transition.’ We are without time, belonging neither to summer nor winter. A particular observance at this time is also the feeling that the human realm is no longer bound by the rules of the physical world, making this a time of peace, contemplation, reverence, and honour.
Perhaps you already feel it? That time of year when having gathered the harvest and fruits of life’s labours, we really should be slowing down and making plans for our New Years’ growth – in both the physical and spiritual sense. A time of quiet contemplation and reflection. A time for shining a light on those answers you seek. And what better way to discover answers to those deep-rooted questions than to call upon your ancient ancestors? And guess what? Now is as good a time as any, even better than any other time really….
Are you are being called to do something? Maybe it’s a big noise for something deep and pertinent like a “Who am I?” question, or perhaps it’s just a quiet whisper of simple things your heart and soul desire in your everyday? Whatever it is, stop ignoring the pull, it is time to get to it!
So...You already know in your heart that there’s something you need to face. This call to action leads me right into my next point about being in an ‘in-between’ place. The ‘So what next…?’
Ceremony brings the sacred into ordinary life. For thousands of years, ceremonies have helped humankind navigate change and welcome in new cycles, both at a community and personal level. Ceremonies can be used as blessings, for healing, for honouring and giving thanks, for closure, releasing, for turning points and rites of passage. By performing ceremonies, change happens as we allow ourselves to reconnect with the sacred. Ceremony is transformative and supports a sense of ease as we experience the transitions of life. In the words of renowned Shaman Sandra Ingerman “When you invoke the sacred power of ceremony, you tap into one of the oldest and most effective tools for transforming both yourself and the world.”
Ok, so now you are consciously aware you have things you wish to seek, heal, improve, bless, give thanks to in your life, and you now know you can honour these things through ceremony. The next question must be, “How on earth do you create a ceremony?”
A ceremony is performed to ask for a specific outcome. Whilst it might be repeated, unlike a ritual which is something you do on a daily basis, a ceremony tends to be performed at a specific time for a specific intention. For all you moon lovers out there, you’ll likely be performing some kind of ceremony on a full and/or new moon….
As far as what a ceremony looks or feels like. Well, that’s up to you! My advice? Keep it simple and true to you. Perhaps spend some time outside or in a quiet space at home and sit with your intention – what is it you are looking to achieve? Breathing deeply into your stomach and connecting with your heart, ask “how do I honour this phase/transition/change?” Without overthinking it, see what comes up in the form of words, pictures, feelings, and emotions. It might be useful to write these down once you’re happy you have everything you need for now and closed your space.
Your ceremony can be as simple as lighting a candle and writing your intentions on paper which you then burn or bury in the ground, finding a tree in nature that you connect to and asking permission to use it as a prayer tree, or finding a local sacred site that you can visit with the intention of drawing upon the site’s energy for enlightenment, healing, deep meditation, and even awareness or knowledge of information long gone.
However you chose to honour your own thresholds in life, bear in mind that you don’t need to look far outside yourself for guidance and support. With Shamanic practices gaining popularity exponentially, I see huge numbers of people travelling to distant lands on a quest to find what they are seeking in life. We have so much respect and admiration for the cultures around the world which have retained their ancient ways, and quite rightly so. But in seeking things outside of us, we forget that we are of this land. That our ancestors were of this land, and that ‘celtic’ tribes, including the Dobunni Tribe based here in the Forest of Dean, lived in a shamanic way. Our ancestors were here. They lived with a deep respect for the land and all creatures of it. They understood the importance of ritual and ceremony throughout the passage of life.
You too are a native people of this earth. You too have your Indigenous medicine ways. Rather than seeking magic, meaning, and spirituality in life in faraway places, perhaps what you are seeking is right on your doorstep….?
I’d love to hear how you honour life’s crossings, and whether you have any plans for celebrating your ancestors and new beginnings this Samhain. If you’re at a loss or would like some gentle guidance on reconnecting to your authentic self, I invite you to join us for our Samhain Shinrin Yoku walk this coming Sat (29th October). It is a fully immersive nature experience with invitations to connect, honour and give thanks to all you are, all that has been before you, and all that is to come.
Looking for something more intimate or unique to you? Modern approaches to ceremony only scratch the surface of its true potential for joy, purpose and magic. At Wilde Earth Jouneys, we specialise in creating magical spaces that hold, heal, nuture and love. So, if you’re looking for something truly beautiful and unique to you, you’re a big fan of nature and the great outdoors, or you’re the kind of person that likes to break away from traditions, why not ask us about our ceremonies, elopements and rites of passage, held in these sacred forested lands of our forefathers.
Namo Namaha – Go well and go wild!