Samhain blog

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

Dolores Whelan

" Do not ask what the world needs rather ask what makes you come alive then go and do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive" Howard Thurman