(Photo: herb field at Fernbrook Farm where we have a farm share, Oct. 2011)
The Wiccan Year Wheel is based on the agricultural cycle and the change of the seasons (four distinct seaons are found in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere). The 8 Sabbats celebrated mark the four change of the seasons and height of each season. They remind us of the cycles of nature Herself and reflect the times to plant and harvest; when livestock are born, weaned, and slaughtered; and when we will know bounty and when we will know scarcity. It is also symbolic our own life cycle: birth-youth (spring), young adult (summer), middle age (autumn), elder (winter) and beyond (death and rebirth).
Lammas (Aug. 1) and Fall Equinox (Sept. 20) are times when the fields are bursting with ripe fruits and vegetables of all kinds and are obviously harvest festivals, but the harvest aspects of Hallowmas (Samhain) are not as obvious. The wind is turning cold and blustering, the trees are losing more and more of their leaves and their branches becoming bare. The fields and gardens are almost bare. The nights are growing a little longer and the cold winds are increasing. This is the time of year our ancestors had to cull (sacrifice) the livestock (blood harvest). It was done out of necessity, to have meat to survive for the winter but also because most people did not have the means to support the animals through the long, cold winter.
Today, most of us no longer grow our own food or slaughter our own animals for meat. However, there is wisdom and lessons to be learned in taking the time to honor this time of year and reflect on how it manifests in our lives now.
It is a good time to look inward and take stock. Have you prepared for the coming cold dark season? Have you harvested enough to nourish you through the lean times? Are there sacrifices or things you need to cut out of your life in order to survive the long nights ahead? These lessons can be applied to your life at any time. During times of joy, peace, and bounty (summer\fall) nourish your body, mind and spirit so that in the lean times (stressful circumstances\winter) you can sustain yourself on the harvest (love, memories, supportive relationships, inner reserve) and survive .
This time of year the veil is thin between the physical world and the spirit realm. It is traditionally a time to honor our ancestors and loved ones who have departed the physical realm. The Crone (Wise Woman) aspect of the Goddess reigns, she offers the cold harsh realities of life and death, but also peace, stillness, and the wisdom of the universe.
By honoring the natural cycle of the seasons including the necessity of sacrifice, loss, and death we are reminded that there will always be times when it is necessary to live off what we have harvested and stored within in order to survive and enjoy another spring and bountiful harvest.
This Hallowmas season, I invite you to embrace the long nights, to peer into the darkness, and welcome the wisdom of the Crone into your life.
I will be observing this Hallowmas (the Wiccan new year) by setting up a small altar for my ancestors, doing a tarot reading for an overview of the year ahead, enjoying a bowl of pumpkin fluff indulgence, and celebrating my 56th birthday (Oct. 30th).
How are you observing Hallowmas?
Namaste, Lady Rose