The earth is turning towards the stillness of winter. I’ve been pulling out my knitted hats and sweaters. Everywhere I look, leaves have turned crimson yellow or orange, and are falling gently to the ground.
We are nearing Samhain, the mid-point between the late September Autumnal Equinox (equal day and equal night) and the Winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) in late December when the North Pole is the furthest away from the sun.
Samhain means “summer’s end,” and the start of a new year. For humans, it can be a time of indwelling, going within, and encountering the shadowed self that lives hidden in the deepest recesses of the unconscious. This is a psychic space where your greatest demons and ghosts as well as your gifts, your yet-to-be-imagined magical self, and your unrealized restorative powers all dwell. The deeper you go and the more obscure the layers are, the more they lose their individuality and morph into the collective energies of humanity shared by all. Jung called this the collective unconscious.
You cross the intersection between spirit and matter and enter hallowed (sacred) space where encounters with the “numinous” are possible. Ralph Otto coined the word to describe the quality that he thought was at the core of all spiritual experience. A numinous experience in its most obvious form is mysterious, uncanny and awesome. It comes from beyond the ordinary realm, filling you with astonishment and wonder. It is also alluring and fascinating, often leaving you feeling blessed or humbled, entranced and transported
We are approaching what is known as Quiet Season in Taos Pueblo when the mother, the earth herself, rests. She goes to sleep, taking with her all of the old invisible shapes of smells, rhythms of cricketsong, colors and textures of leaves, and the unsatisfied desires of bumble bees from the world. The death of what was becomes the rich and fertile soil of her imagination as she dreams the world back into being. We call this spring.
Jung taught that our suffering and our healing come from the same place. When we don’t let go, we prevent the necessary winter of the soul. Suffering is our relentless effort to stop the cycles of our inner nature. Like the earth in Quiet Season, you must relax into the darkness, and enter the dreamscape of the unconscious, a liminal space, whose borders are only visible in hindsight.
When you don’t do this, you project your need for a redeemer onto someone or something else to ease your suffering instead of taking personal responsibility by facing a necessary death within you. By doing so, you encounter your own personal image of the divine as it manifests itself to you directly.
Ancient cultures recognized this period of Samhain as an auspicious time, performing rituals to pray for what has passed from this world to another, like ancestors. Many cultural anthropologists muse that some of the more modern day rituals like the “day of the dead” from Mexico, the Catholic “all saints day,” and the western celebration of Halloween are reflections of this tradition.
How will you honor Samhain?
This is a time when your old ways of thinking and being can be replaced by new attitudes, understandings, and energies to create a “more whole self.” Emotional suffering has a purpose, and if captured and revealed, its healing intention can be amplified. Living like nature, you come to understand that your symptoms (suffering) are messages from the unconscious, and that something greater than you is seeking to come into being. Instead of turning away from these symptoms by drinking too much, distracting yourself with busyness, or getting lost to another sexual conquest, you turn towards them with conscious curiosity, and elicit the help of a guide in the form of a trusted friend, spiritual mentor, personal coach, psychologist, or support group to help you interpret the messages.
Wishing you restorative dreams during the coming Quiet Season of your soul.
Yours in psyche and spirit,