In our orbit around Mother Sun, our everyday sacred journey[i], Earth’s tilt moves us into the Seasons of Samhain and Beltaine, as they are named in Old European traditions. It is the cross-quarter Moment between Equinox and Solstice: that is, in the Southern Hemisphere between Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, and in the Northern Hemisphere between Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The actual Moment will be at 12:25 UTC on the 5th May … that’s May 5th 22:25 EST Australia where I am. All global times are available at archaeoastronomy.com.
In the Southern Hemisphere as the dark part of the day continues to grow and to dominate, it is the Season of Samhain/Deep Autumn: a time for remembering those who have passed into the night, the ancestors, which may include all beings, and our old selves (and there is nothing we have not been). As last Summer’s growth de-composes, and the dark part of the day waxes, it may be a time for dreaming and conceiving the new – for new re-solutions, surely felt in these times. It is a Moment for celebration of the transformative power of the Dark: which may include the comfort and rest it may bring, as well as the breakdown and composting of the past. The Dark is the ground of being, and is a sentient fertility rich with possibility, in which the new may be composed/conceived.
In the Northern Hemisphere as the light part of the day continues to grow and to dominate, it is the Season of Beltaine/High Spring: a time for remembering the beauty and allurement of the dance of life, and essential deep desire itself which brings all things forth, also surely needed in these times. As the light part of the day waxes, and its manifest power becomes apparent in the garden and everywhere, it may be a time of awakening the senses and relational connections of all kinds. It is a Moment for celebration of the fertile power of the Light: the warmth received, the manifestation of flowers, fruits and beauty, the diverse colour wavelengths received into eyes[ii], and the creative nature of the passion enkindled. Desire deeply felt and expressed multivalently is worthy of much contemplation: it turns the Wheel and brings forth all things.
Samhain and Beltaine are essential to each other – one cannot be without the other. They do occur at the same time: that is, they are co-incidental. Knowing a sense of death, the knowing of the passing of all, is intimate with appreciation of the moment of Now – its gift and its beauty. And life is built on death: this moment and all presently manifest beings would not be here, if all had not passed before. Death is actually the Mother of us all. It has taken everything to get to this moment, and we may remember that we are united with all who have come before us, in their desire, in their longing: we share this with all. We may sense the wholeness of form and trans-form, the flux and unity that this event of life actually is. Both of these Seasonal Moments have traditionally often been times of celebrating a wild fertile space – one a genetic fertility, the other a trans-genetic/imaginal fertility. It could be a kind of excitement felt in bodyminds in anticipation of the fullness of dark or light, the climax (as it will be at Solstice – Winter and Summer). In the evolutionary story the advent of meiotic sex is connected to the advent of death[iii]: there is intimate connection.
For some Samhain Poetry: PaGaian Samhain on YouTube
For some Beltaine Poetry: PaGaian Beltaine in YouTube
Many will celebrate the Moment on traditional dates, and yet others will enjoy it closer to the actual astronomical moment. Here in Australia where I am located, I will share Samhain ceremony with others on the 7th May. I invite and invoke celebration thus:
Earth’s tilt leans us further into the dark – this is the time for conceiving the new …
You are invited to celebrate
In this moment, between the old and the new,
all is possible.:
The veil is thin that divides the worlds.
We remember the dead, let go of the past,
conceive the Not-Yet.
We remember that we are more, much more.
We meet to trans-form yet again,
in the womb of the Dark Shining One,
of our own bodyminds.
PaGaian Cosmology blogs for Samhain/Deep Autumn
PaGaian Cosmology blogs for Beltaine/High Spring
Samhain/Deep Autumn and Beltaine/High Spring meditations are available in digital format and also on PaGaian Cosmology Meditations CDs, at that link. The meditations are a beautifully produced collection which supports ceremony for each Seasonal celebration.
Some Samhain and Beltaine story may be found in Appendix F of PaGaian Cosmology or if you have a paper version of the book, there is an Index for references throughout. These Seasonal Moments in relationship to the whole Wheel of the Year may be found in Chapter 5. Ceremonial scripts are offered in Chapter 7 , though they always evolve and are adapted to personal and regional poietics. The on-line versions are different from those in the paper copy of the book.
Blissed and profound Samhain/Beltaine transition to you.
[i] Our everyday sacred journey around Mother Sun could be named as a Turas. Turas is a Celtic word meaning “journey”, “pilgrimage”, and refers especially to the circular, spiralling prayer used by people in Celtic countriesas they walked sunwise around a sacred site. (Caitlin Matthews, The Celtic Spirit, p.31)
[ii] See Laura Sewall, “Earth, Eros, Sky” in Earthlight, Winter 2000, for more on this.
[iii] See Elisabet Sahtouris, Earthdance, p.134-135, and Ursula Goodenough, The Sacred Depths of Nature, p.143-149. More can be made of this link between these Seasonal Moments: orgasm has been termed “a little death” in French.
Goodenough, Ursula. The Sacred Depths of Nature. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005
Matthews, Caitlin. The Celtic Spirit. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.
Sahtouris, Elisabet. Earthdance: Living Systems in Evolution. Lincoln NE:iUniversity Press, 2000.
Sewall, Laura. “Earth, Eros, Sky” in Earthlight, Winter 2000, pp. 22-23 and p. 25.
Swimme, Brian. The Universe is a Green Dragon. Santa Fe: Bear & Co., 1984.
Congratulations on your progress in merging/uniting the conceptually contrasting realities of Beltaine-Samhain. On our Earth both must exist simultaneously and in our hemisphere we must be conscious of this simultaneity. You mentioned ‘meiosis’. Your post implanted that reality deep in my perception today. Here in the ACT in the gathering twilight of an overcast day I feel the soft arms of the Egyptian goddess NUT closing gently around.
Samhain of course comes from the Gaelic-Celtic ‘samh’ (pronounced ‘sauve’) which means peace, rest and contentment. In the later language Latin ‘samh’ became ‘somnis’, sleep.
At the risk of our friendship I am inspired by your celebration of the coexistence of opposites in one to post you part of my verse account of a merging of opposites, not without struggle, in my own early (teenage) life. My revelation of this event has ended four of my friendships. Hopefully not this time. It explains a lot of my commitment to the struggle with the patriarchy despite my training as a volunteer citizen soldier in two armies.
At birth my pubic structure made me male
And puberty propelled me on a quest
To find a place of love, respect and rest
Upon the S and LGBT scale
But chromosomal conflict intervenes
To switch and swap my male and female genes
And leads me in among the in-betweens
I felt the chromosomal struggle rage
Into my twenty second year of age.
Two spirits fought within me to survive
Until I reached the age of twenty five
At last my female X genes ceased to rise
Against the male aggression of my Ys
Boyish good looks with girlish softness
Older men’s glances sometimes stopped and lingered
At parties my success was not the best
I tried in vain to gain the interest
Of girls and women, they were not impressed
By this mere boy, I did not pass their test
When others paired and shared some happiness
I wandered home alone a sorry mess
In sad virginity
You saw me, just eighteen and barely male
And in your blood young Eros raised his sail
I saw you, fifty four and twice my size
The admiration shining in your eyes
What should I think about this friendly glow
Perhaps it would be better not to know
A voice inside me said ‘get up and go’
Hello Aidan, I am sorry I didn’t see this until now, some months later. I don’t know why I didn’t receive notification. Anyway it is no problem for our friendship! I can understand the struggle … in cultural context especially.
The full reality of our wonderful planet with its two contrasting hemispheres and its rich and competing complexities can be contradictory at first sight. I await your next iteration.
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