Samain and the Moon of the Thinned Veil
Sunday gratefuls: Kate, always Kate. Nearer to my heart as the veil thins between this world and the Otherworld. Rigel and Kep, good dogs. Xiola, that pit bull that showed up yesterday. Hope she got home ok. Low hanging Cloud this morning. Fog on Shadow Mountain. Samain, Summer’s End. New Year’s day for Celtic lands. Long ago. Glasgow. Needs all the power it can get. Then, to use it.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: Fog
Tarot: Eight of Cups, Druid Craft
Happy New Year! Feliz Samain! The season of light has fallen behind us. As I write at 7:30 am, the sky has only begun to lighten, a blue steel. As I feed the dogs in the afternoon, the sky heads toward late twilight. The temperatures are cooler and Snow is in the forecast. All Crops are dead except those few winter hardy ones like Winter Wheat, Garlic.
Up here the Aspens are naked. I found a skim of Ice on the Dog’s outdoor Water yesterday. This morning the shed and the roof of the house have a coating of Frost. I’ve begun layering with flannel shirts, fleece, and lined outer shirts. The boiler works harder now.
The Celts began their year today. The Samain festival marks the end of the growing season and the harvest season. Samain is the last harvest festival, preceded by Mabon in September and Lughnasa in August.
Through its influence millions of children will go door to door tonight dressed as Bob Ross (Gabe), candy bars, ghosts, celebrities, goblins, animals, witches. Whatever seems fun. Most will not know that the costumes mimic the Celtic belief that the veil between this world and the Otherworld thins on this day. That means the dead, those of Faery, other creatures like goblins can cross into this world more easily. In the ancient Celtic mind anything strange might happen or show up.
And, yes, it also means that the living can cross over into the Otherworld if they can find a portal, a place where the veil thins even more. Holy wells, caves, dolmens, sacred groves. A place made sacred by repeated worship. The living, though, have to be careful if they cross over because the return from Faery, or the Otherworld, may not be as easy. For sure eat no Faery cake nor drink no Faery wine.
Today is my first Samain without Kate; I feel her absence and her presence more keenly today. A family altar anchored by her ashes helps me place her both here and there. Wherever there might be.
The fog, the frost, the chill in the air underscore this day as one of a thinned veil. A day after which the strength of the growing season must see us through until Imbolc when the ewes freshen and milk becomes available. Even then we must wait until Ostara, the first day of Spring, to see the world once again as a place that can support the living.
To start the year here suggests an emphasis on the inner world, on life lived with family, often huddled around peat fires for warmth. Eating, being sustained, by the crops of the time of light.
A book dear to me, The Fairy Faith, written by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, recounts his several visits to the smoky huts all round Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany. In those villagers’ homes he heard the stories that kept the family enthralled over the long nights following the New Year. Stories of elves, fairies, goblins and more. Evans-Wentz went on to become famous as the translator of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
We have stripped the world of its magic with Enlightenment reason and scientific method. Many, most, are as I used to be: either/or folks. Either the scientific, logical worldview or nothing. I prefer, Yes science and logic. Yes magic and mystery.
Sure this is meteorological Fall. Yes. It’s also Samain and Mabon ends today. It’s true we don’t know what happens after death, but it’s also true we really DON’T know what happens after death. The second law of thermodynamics explains dissolution, decay, the inevitable crumbling of organic structures. As far as it goes. Yet it cannot imagine a world untouched by its rule. But, I can.
Having the New Year today suggests that there is a way of understanding that comes in the dark, in the midst of decay, in the inner reaches of our psyche. A way best accessed when the light recedes and time for reflection grows. A way that precedes the way of light both in time and in spiritual significance.
Remember Steiner’s Springtime of the Soul at the feast of Michael the Archangel? September 29th. I believe Steiner recognized the same wisdom as the ancient Celts. To become more of who we are we need to go inside, into the dark, into the fecund place where the imagination lives.
During the season of light we work and live in the outer world, coming to the dark and the inner life mainly at night. During the season of dark, the fallow time, we can more easily spend time in meditation, dreaming, listening to tales told before a crackling fire. Perhaps writing and painting and cooking to express for others our inner work.
Join me this Samain as we honor the dead, honor the pool of memories that bind us all as one, honor the subconscious mind, honor the mysterious and the immeasurable. Honor faeries, goblins, elves, Tarot cards, the Tree of Life, and astrology. Kabbalah. Everything that seeks to penetrate or contextualize the interesting, but limited world of science and logic.