It is the first Sunday in December and we are deep in the Samhain season, as we in the northern hemisphere, move inevitably towards the Winter Solstice… I have just returned from a wonderful walk in the woods. What beauty reveals itself in this season where minimum is the norm of expression, yet within that minimum so much is expressed. At this time, we see the exquisite structure of the tress which is hidden from view in spring and summer time. Seeing this, I realise that it is a metaphor for us and our experience of life. During the dark and deep time of any Samhain season in our lives, when we are stripped of our exuberant foliage and our normal out in the world energy ,we can see and experience the elegance and strength of our core structure and strength . This is a gift that only comes to us in the dark season of Samhain. In Ireland November is very connected with death, dying and grieving; it is also associated with the other world and with the ancestors… This year I and around 35 friends gathered in my garden to celebrate the festival of Samhain and mark the entrance into this season of darkness and death. We invited the ancestors to join us for the ceremony and asked their blessing and protection on us all that we would tread safely into the night of the year.
In Ireland, for the second year ,a national grieving day was held on November 22nd (new moon) and events happened throughout the country As a part of this, I offered a short experience called “Embracing grief and finding freedom” which was really touching and all of us who were present and we gained much from this experience. It is my intention to offer more workshops in the exploration of grief. Just before the workshop began I got news that Cynthai Matyi, the US visual artist, with whom I had co-created the Perpetual Celtic calendar in 2011 was in the hospice and nearing death. Cynthai had a serious cancer when I met her in 2011, yet in spite of her illness she continued to pursue her creative work for as long as possible. She died very peacefully a few days later .May her soul is at peace and may she know the wonderful legacy that she left her on planet earth
Go raibh deis De ar a anam (May God smile on her soul).
In the western world, death and dying are seen almost as failures; yet in all ancient traditions death was considered to be a normal part of life. When a person died their soul and spirit were transported to the Otherworld and the dead body, which housed the soul and spirit, was returned to the earth and became part of a regeneration process, a part of the natural cycle. This was view was dominant in all cultures who believed in a bi-cosmic vision of the world. With the onset of the Enlightenment this bi-cosmic vision of reality changed to mono cosmic and w e humans are still struggling with the consequences of this. Over the next few weeks as w e sink deeper into the night of the year may you be blessed with peace as you surrender the struggle and dance with what is in this moment.
Cynthai Matyi and Dolores Whelan at the launch of the Perpetual Celtic Calendar at IBAM in Chicago November 2011
Le Gra agus Beannachtai