Samain and the Full, Blue Moon of Radical Change
Saturday gratefuls: Dr. Eigner. Undetectable PSA. The Great Wheel. Taoism. All us pagans. Samain. The fallow season. Holiseason. Darkness. A return, however brief, to time sanity. The big snow that tamped down the Cameron and East Troublesome fires. The American Way. The American Dream.
Samain. Again. The Celtic New Year. The Great Wheel turned now for a full orbit around the sun since last Samain. Though I embraced the Jewish New Year in September, 5781, as a way out of 2020, it never seemed to stick. That is, 2020 kept crashing back over the dike of even as ancient a tradition as that one. Gonna try again.
The Celtic New Year puts the beginning of a new year at the beginning of the fallow time. Samain in ancient Gaelic means Summer’s End. In the most ancient Celtic calendar that we have, the Celts recognized two seasons. Beltane, now on May 1st, marked the season of fertility, growth, harvest. Samain, now on October 31st, is the final harvest holiday. The growing season finished villages prepared for the difficult time of year to come, a cold time when people lived off their stores. Interesting to me that the Celts chose such a time for their New Year.
The veil thins during this time, the veil between this world and the Other World. The Other World is the land of Faery, the land of the Gods, the land of the dead. The thinned veil meant ancestors could cross back into this world, as could the Faery folk. Since the Faery folks sometimes kidnapped children and ancestors could be ornery, it was a scary transition from growing season to the fallow time.
Contracts ended or began during the Samain market week as they did for each of the Celtic holidays: Beltane, Lughnasa, Samain, and Imbolc. Always a festive time of year Samain like the others, saw trading and feasting, late night dancing around bonfires, visiting family. The Celts also celebrated the two equinoxes and the two solstices: Ostara, Midsommar, Mabon, and Yule with market weeks.
Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophist, and radical thinker of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, says Michaelmas, the Saint Day for the Archangel Michael, September 29th, is the “springtime of the soul.” Along with the Jewish New Year which always falls near the same time, we’re encouraged to go deep into our selves. I marry this idea to the increasing darkness, the gradual lengthening of the night that began at Midsommar and reaches its maximum at Yule, on the Winter Solstice. Samain invites us to not only go inside, but to also open ourselves to that Other World, the Unseen One, that lies just out of sight. Might be a multiverse, might be a dimension not understood by science or reason.
The Great Wheel teaches us about the link between our inner journey and the seasonal changes. The seasonal changes themselves can teach us about the world beyond our lived reality. We can avert our attention from the screens and pages and indoor rooms of our lives and take our attention out of doors. We can wonder what lies beyond that mountain, beneath that lake.
It teaches us Covid too shall end. And, makes us aware as well, that it will both end and return again. Though I hope we don’t have to have another Trump. Please. Don’t make authoritarianism and rampant stupidity laced into cupidity a renewing moment. Please.
Holiseason begins now. The term is not mine-I found it in the Oxford English Dictionary-but I apply it to the time between today, Samain, and January 6th, the Epiphany, the day after the Twelve Days of Christmas. Holiseason includes so many, many holidays: Samain, Thanksgiving, Divali, Hanukah, Advent, Posada, Winter Solstice, Yule, New Years Day, Boxing Day, Kwanza. Add ones that you know.
We bathe ourselves in light and darkness, spend time with family, often giving them gifts. Holiseason is a time to sing songs, make the tables groan with food, decorate the house, the city, the nation, hug friends and family, acknowledge all the ancient spiritual trails we follow, cue ourselves in to the soul’s journey, move deep into the caverns of our own inner life.
If you open yourself to its richness, holiseason will alert you to the fullest potential in yourself and those you love. It will remind you that the whole globe seeks for wisdom, for love, for light. Traditions come alive in song, in movies, in books. Poetry. We need not despair, even with Trump, even with Covid, even with hurricanes and wildfires. We are the people of the Holiseason. Joyous. Alert. Loving. Singing. Diving deep into our own souls to turn them inside out and know others through them. Blessed be.