Samhain is upon us, the Celtic New Year, and a time when the veil between the worlds is at it’s thinnest; a time of year filled with tradition, folklore tales and deep insight into the beliefs and rituals of our ancestors.
In Ireland, it begins with Oíche Shamhna, or Hallowe’en as it is better known by. Our ancestors believed that on this night, the deceased crossed over into our world and walk among us. They began to dress disguised as the dead, in the hope that they would not be recognised as humans by the spirits of the otherworld. A great bonfire would be lit for the whole community, and from that central fire, the fires in each home would then be lit.
The month of Samhain, which begins on 1st November, marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year. This indicates that the time is upon us to return inwards, a time of rest, reflection and setting intentions and goals for the year ahead. As the life force of the trees and plants return to source, back to the womb of mother earth, so too do we retreat inwards, resting and gathering strength for when the days begin to lengthen once again.
The thinning of the veil brings to our attention the importance of healthy boundaries in our lives. If you have healing to do around boundaries in your own life, you may find yourself challenged at this time. You may be faced with situations of aggression, or feel as though you are being pushed past your own limits in your work or home life. You may be receiving signs to address this issue in the form of messages, symbols, or unusual events. Although this may all feel overwhelming at the moment, trust that what is being brought to the surface, is done so in order for you to heal and grow.
Embrace this challenge by taking time to reflect on the boundaries currently in your life. Are you being too lenient in some situations? Does your work-life balance require reassessment? Are there people in your life that bring you a sense of heaviness and disharmony? Setting healthy boundaries is not an easy task, however it is an essential one. Sometimes we allow fear to get in the way, fear of the consequences of standing up for yourself at work or in relationships. However, the greatest consequences come with not setting boundaries at all, creating a toxic internal environment which can lead to anxiety, stress and further illness down the road.
Our ancestors celebrated the time of Samhain as one of the most important events of the year. There was, however, a bitter-sweet element, similar to what we experience when addressing our own issues around boundaries. On one hand, great fires were lit and important activities were undertaken. On the other hand, many feared the dead that walked among them, hiding their appearance with ghoulish disguises. They treasured the thoughts of sharing the earth once more with loved ones, but also performed rituals to ward of evil spirits. Similarly, working on the theme of boundaries in our own lives can bring emotions of happiness and freedom, but also a great fear of what backlash may come from it.
"The fire represents a force of darkness and light, an element with the ability to grow and expand rapidly, creating heat and life force, and also an element of great destruction, with the combustive ability to destroy anything in it’s path. "
The fire is a wonderful element to work with when establishing, or reestablishing boundaries. It allows us to bring light and warmth to any situation or difficulty we may be facing, and destroy that which we no longer need in our life, transmuting it instead to light energy. It gives us the power to shine a great light from within us, in times of darkness, expanding outwards into the community when required.
Once you have established your boundaries, the next step is to sustain them. This begins with retreating inwards, strengthening the idea of these boundaries within yourself. Setting intentions and growing the energy of these boundaries from a place of compassion for yourself and for all involved. Once you have sustained the concept of these boundaries within yourself, like a sprouting seed, expand upwards and outwards, expanding this concept into your life and into the areas required. With the inner strength and conviction to sustain them in your life, you will notice a huge difference in your energy levels and emotional state at the end of each day.
In this way, paying attention to the traditions and teachings of our ancestors can bring great healing and growth into our own lives. Although the rituals and ways of celebrating Samhain may have changed greatly over the course of thousands of years, the central idea remains as relevant today as it was in the very beginning. So this year, as we embrace the festival of Samhain, as the veil thins and our ancestors pass among us, take time to listen, to appreciate and be guided by the wisdom of your lineage and loved ones who have passed over.