Great Hallows   Leave a comment

In this Samhuinn season I turn again, as I so often do, to Bards. Lorna Smithers’ “Annuvian Awen” offers us a chant for the approaching “Great Hallows” of Hallowe’en, as a friend once called it.

“Out of darkness I am born”, Lorna sings. “Out of blood I am born/
Out of spirit I am born”. Change the pronoun and you have a chant for a group rite.

This is invocation and evocation, true, but it also states spiritual truth. It both summons and declares what is already present. Halfway between Equinox and Yule, the Celtic New Year begins, even as the Celtic day begins at sunset, and continues through the night to dawn.

In the southern hemisphere, Beltane nears, halfway between equal-day-and-night of the spring equinox, and the longest day at Midsummer. What links between the “Fires of Bel” and “Summer’s End” — one plausible set of meanings of the names Beltane and Samhuinn? One theme for meditation: they happen at the same time, depending on where you are, where your attention rests.

The form of the triadic chant I’ve been looking at above reaffirms such truths: it consists both of stable elements and changing ones. In that way its rhythms are those of life. And going further, the three words “darkness, blood, spirit” could be changed in a Beltane chant to “brightness, fire, spirit” or some other suitable triad. With enough people singing it as a round, both sets of words could sound together, Beltane and Samhuinn, Samhuinn and Beltane.

Of course, at other times, just one or the other is all you need.

As with so many things Druidic, the chant comes first, and possible meanings and magics come second. Or we notice them second. Set the chant going on your breath, give it a simple melody, carry it with you like a fragrance for the day, and you do a Druidic thing. You call on all that you are to explore the value of a thing, to test its measure, not just with the head, or reason, but with flesh, blood, spirit, breath, fire, dark and light. Work with the chant and it will feel different at sunset than at dawn. Different again at Beltane than at Samhuinn.

One of the Putney Stone Chambers — “kiva-style”

Set the chant against whatever comes to you during the day. What weight and authority does each thing have, event and chant? Is that the weight and balance you desire? Keep the chant going and ask how the balance can shift to one you can serve.

Samhuinn is a time of death and birth, even as Beltane celebrates the fires of vitality and magic, conception and sex and creation. “The ideal that you hope to achieve is always to be ready for an incarnation”, observes Paul Twitchell, “whether it is in this world or those planes beyond. But unless an incarnation can be offered its birth through you, though, it is incapable of being brought into the manifestation of life. Therefore, your attitude should be one in which, having desired to express … the higher states of consciousness, you alone accept the responsibility of incarnating a new and greater value of yourself”.

And if something needs to die before something better can be born? Well, the Samhuinn season can be an excellent time to explore that, too. Will I allow it? How might I be standing in my own way? How can ritual help me let go of that obstacle to what I desire? How can I celebrate a Samhuinn and a Beltane, too, for transformation? And can I also let go of desire, once I have expressed it, again getting out of my own way, letting go of preconceived ideas of “this is how it has to happen”?

Oh, if you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know enough by now: I seek practices to stretch me. Elastic lives, brittle breaks. Haven’t enough of us learned that at least a little bit?!

“Can’t I just celebrate and enjoy the season, and not bother with such things?” a part of me asks. Certainly — as long as you’re sure such things won’t bother with you, whether you will or no. Do Druidry long enough and you’re called to go deeper. As Gaga sings, we’re far from the shallow now.

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“The rest of the results might not be what you are looking for”, Google alerts me this morning. “See more anyway” appears as another option. How many reminders do I need?!

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Posted 12 October 2020 by adruidway in Druidry, Lorna Smithers

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