Today is Halloween...all Hallow’s Eve... a time of revelry and the seasonal turning of the Earth.
To the Celts and many pagans today, it is Samhain (pronounced sow-in), the Celtic New Year’s celebration honoring summer’s end and the turning to the time of darkness. It marks a transition, a liminal time where the veil between worlds is very thin and there is an intertwining of the forces of dark and light, cold and heat, death and life.
As part of the ancient celebration, Cailleach (pronounced kal-ee-ack) known as the veiled one, the dark goddess and the ancient crone, comes to visit. In legend, she is often depicted as horrible and frightening, disgusting to behold. Yet, these myths and stories suggest that by welcoming her in she is transformed into beauty. In the ancient Samhain ritual she asks for a sacrifice, for what no longer serves. It is this sacrifice that initiates a transformation.
Haven’t we all known this visitation in some form or another? Somewhere in our lives, we are confronted by the “awful truth” and by welcoming it in we must sacrifice the old way. We know that we will be changed and rearranged.
In our world now, we feel the ominous clouds and darkness gathering around us. The visage of Cailleach is before us asking for a sacrifice...to see the “awful truth” of hate, harm and misuse of power and take it in. We stand at the threshold - what is ours to do? Each of us must ask, “What must I discard to face the dark shadows with resolve, without delusion and with courage? How must I change so that I can carry the light?”
In Celtic tradition, Samhain bonfires burned to hold the light within the circle of community in preparation of traveling through the darkness together. How can we walk into this time as a community of light?
It is imperative that we release the barriers that block the way to one another. Together, in mutual support and fierce resolve, we can carry the light into the dark. It is the fire in our hearts and in our community of compassion that will light the way and allow the transformation that Cailleach offers.
We may not be able to stop the darkness, but together, we may be able to transform it.