A core inspiration for the processes of the Samhain/Deep Autumn seasonal rite as it has been done here at my place for over a decade, is Robin Morgan’s poem, “The Network of the Imaginary Mother“. The whole poem helped me through a gateway into new language and perceptions some 34 years ago (1980), but the main part that has been used specifically in the Samhain ceremony is:
Drawn from the first by what I would become,
I did not know how simple this secret could be.
The carapace is split,
the shed skin lies upon the ground.
I must devour the exoskeleton of my old shapes,
wasting no part, free only then
to radiate whatever I conceive,
to exclaim the strongest natural fiber known
into such art, such architecture
as can house a world made sacred by my building.
And we do actually consume gingerbread snakes in the ceremony – in three parts: one for our “old selves”, one for the ancestors (which we also do become, and already are), and one for the “old shapes” of our human culture and story.
Our bodyminds are constantly transforming food. Devouring of the sacred animal, the sacrifice, may be understood as an ancient way of becoming the sacrifice (thus the Christian communion – so that one may become the Christ). But the devouring of food IS communion, with all that it took to bring it to you in this moment: and indeed it took the whole universe. Ceremonial consummation is an ancient way of taking on the knowledge, the wisdom, of the numinous totem. When we eat the representations of renewal, it may no longer be I who live but the archetype of renewal that lives in me. It is a shamanic process, and it is in co-operation with an organic process that happens all the time. We have transformed ourselves, we are constantly in a state of trans-forming … we may all be shamanic more or less, in that sense. And we may all take forces that are within us into our “hands”: that is into our consciousness, and re-spin them. We are “spin-sters” – constantly conceiving and spinning the future: it may be ever new, this is where it begins.
We participate directly in the Dark Sentience of the Creative Cosmos – who may be imagined as the Dark Old One, as She has been imagined in ceremonies here: Samhain in particular is a recognition of this quality of Cosmogenesis, that movement back into the Great Sentience out of whom All arises. Samhain particularly is a celebration of Her process of the end of things and transformation, as this Seasonal Moment celebrates the passing of last Summer’s growth: the leaves turn and fall, the light part of the day gets shorter and colder. The Old One/Crone aspect of Creativity is the contraction if you like, that may be understood as a systole, a contraction of the heart by which the blood is forced onward and the circulation enabled. She is the systole that carries All away – She is about loss, but the contraction of the heart is obviously a creative one, it is the pulse of life. Perhaps it is only our short-sightedness that keeps us from seeing contraction/death that way: we insist on taking it all so personally, when it is not, in fact?
Another inspiration for the Samhain ceremonial process as it has been done here is a poem I had written, called Mother-Warriors – partly inspired by Robin Morgan’s poem and also by Monique Wittig’s book Les Guerilleres. I was beginning to become aware of, to conceive/conceptualize, the great Creative power within each being. Until then I had thought that I, and all, and Earth Herself, was a “dead ball of dirt”. Yet the Creative Dynamic of the Cosmos, happens within each being and within Earth … we are all the Mother, co-creators with Her.
Gaia has made amazing transitions, since the beginning in the Primeval Fireball, with the aid of catastrophic events, and with a minimum of materials – “wasting no part”. Nothing is wasted – it is all compost for renewal and manifestation. Remembering Her story, and meditating upon it, gives humans some clue about the present, and how to proceed; and so it may also be with the remembering of our own personal stories, and cultural stories, and present planetary catastrophe.
We are “the Transformation of the Ages”: everything that went before us is present within … we are the Ancient One. Our life is an outcome of death … without death we would not be here: She is the Mother. Cosmologist Brian Swimme says: “We are a mode of the evolutionary dynamics” – we are Cosmogenesis: as opposed to “individuals” … who are we, and who might we become?
(c) Glenys Livingstone 2014
For an excellent Samhain Meditation: PaGaian Cosmology Meditations – scroll down to individual tracks, where you will find a Samhain/Deep Autumn Meditation for $3.25. It is a package of tracks 1, 2 and 3 off CD 1 – the Introduction to the meditations, the Samhain/Deep Autumn preparation and the Samhain/Deep Autumn Meditation.
 in Lady of the Beasts, p.63-88.
 a term originally re-storied by Mary Daly in Gyn/Ecology, p.3.
 I owe the “systole” metaphor to Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey, p.20. He uses it to speak of an eternal pulse that lifts Himalayas, and then carries them away.
 This is an expression of Brian Swimme’s in Canticle to the Cosmos, video #6 “A Magical Planet”.
 a term commonly used in PaGaian Cosmology to speak of the ancient sentience within – the One who “creates Space to Be”, the Old One, that autopoietic quality of Cosmogenesis.
 Brian Swimme, The Powers of the Universe.
Daly, Mary. Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1978.
Eiseley, Loren. The Immense Journey. NY: Vintage Books, 1957.
Morgan, Robin. “The Network of the Imaginary Mother” in Lady of the Beasts. NY: Random House, 1976, p.63-88
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.
Swimme, Brian. Canticle to the Cosmos. (DVD series). CA: Tides Foundation, 1990.
Swimme, Brian. The Powers of the Universe. DVD series. CA: Center for the Story of the Universe, 2005.
Wittig, Monique. Les Guerilleres. NY: Avon Books, 1973.