Samhain is upon us and I have been feeling strongly the energies of release this year. At this festival, we think about our connections to the Ancestors and to all those we have loved in this life who have now passed over. I have been moving through my own grieving process having lost my dad a couple of years ago. It has been a long and difficult journey but there comes a point when we arrive at a place of acceptance within ourselves. Letting go of those who mean so much to us has its own time span; it is something that cannot be forced or faked; we must feel those painful feelings of loss that the absence of loved ones can bring. Eventually, something shifts. It is not that we ever let go completely, for those dear ones are never very far away, however, there does come a moment when we can surrender up our grief, handing it tenderly over to the Divine. As the trees prepare to shed, I feel that I find myself willing to offer up my own grief in order to move on.
Samhain is a gateway, a door to be walked through between two places. Physical death is a threshold between one state of existence and another; we can grasp the truth of this in a psychological sense through the many experiences of our lives when we are confronted with endings. Of course, not all ending are unwelcome; some are easier to move through but all endings bring us to that threshold and, to truly pass through it, we must eventually surrender what was, in order to embrace the potential of what will be.
I recently bought myself a decorative gift box – I had read somewhere the idea of having a ‘Let go and Let Goddess/God’ box. This would be a container where I could place all those issues or situations in my life that I was holding on to, to the detriment of moving on. I would write on slips of paper, anything that I felt I was struggling to release. This very simple act of writing down and placing inside the box with the intension of giving over to the Divine, has been for me a wonderfully helpful experience. It has felt like an emotional fist inside me – my rigid psychological grip around all those hurts and struggle – has been relaxed and opened, transformed into a hand ready to receive.
Surrender is intimately linked to our capacity to trust. When we accept and let go, we place our trust in the Divine, in ourselves, in life and in the healing power of Divine Grace. It is a powerfully magical act that brings with it an enormous sense of peace and relief. Not only that, it is the first step that we take over the threshold and into another life .We leave behind what needs to be shed but we take with us the wisdom and the hope that wisdom brings.
Samhain has many layers. One of them is undoubtedly the pain of loss and grief – the Dark Goddess and God with scythe in hand whose initiations can leave us feeling like our entire lives have been dismantled. But this is only a part of the process. For me, the deepest mysteries of this festival are found in the profound transformation that comes at the moment of surrender. The dark expressions of the Divine that brings us our most challenging life experiences, soften into the deepest compassion at the moment of true release. It is at that moment that we can fully understand the paradox that each ending is in fact a new beginning.
I dream of my dad often and feel his love as strongly as ever but I now realise that I can let go of the pain and loss, and in doing so, embrace the love. Loss is like the alchemist’s alembic; it holds us within its often unbearable intensity until we are distilled into a more potent version of ourselves. It is the Goddess’ cauldron that we all enter, surrendering to her all that we are in order to become all that we could be. As I cross over the threshold this Samhain – as I let go; as I trust in the power of release – the sweet, dark, softening peace of surrender will hold me.