This week, I challenge you to descend into the coming dark time of the year.
The year is split between the two main seasons: Summer vs. Winter. There are countless stories and fables of the coming Summer and Winter. Of warmth and cold, of life and death.
It is a constant battle within us as well. Medically, our bodies change with the seasons, the tides, the months and years. They are powerhouses for immense change and immense magick. They shield us from millions of microbial enemies every second of our lives, and keep us alive and kicking.
Over the past four weeks I shared Angeles Arrien’s* “Four Fold Path.” A basis that can guide us on our paths “to be open to outcome, not attached to outcome. To tell the truth without blame or judgment. To pay attention to what has heart and meaning, and to show up and truly be present.”
To be equal Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary. This is not an easy task, but it is a fun one. To embrace all of our different sides and be the something we truly are underneath it it all: multi-faceted. We have many interests, sometimes ones that have absolutely NOTHING in common. But they make us real, they make us unique, and they make us human.
“Painting is an infinitely minute part of my personality.”-Salvador Dali
In walking with these multiple archetypes within us, it offers us balance. It offers us a chance to now walk into the depths of our proverbial caves and journey.
Now more than ever is the time of year to connect with our deeper selves. Armoured with the four archetypes we can descend, unafraid, into the things we would sometimes rather not see. But the dark doesn’t always have to be a big bad dark and scary. It’s natural to be afraid of the dark, and to be cautious in the cold. But the cold also can invigorate us to be even more creative and alive than we ever were in Summer!
“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” – Anton Chekhov
The winter teaches us many things: to be happier with what we already have. To reflect on the past and look to the future. It teaches patience, it teaches kindness, and above all it teaches warmth of spirit.
Last year, more a Midwinter class I did, I had an art project that was to make a weathergram. Inspired and ready to get my hands dirty with glue and coloured pencils, and TONS of watercolours, I began to think and wonder what my weathergram would say? My teacher Joanna reminded me of one of my favourite sayings about weather and clothing:
“There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” And that when I knew what I would write:
“Warmth of spirit can defrost even the bitterest cold.”
We all have our favourite seasons, mine happens to now be winter. Now don;t get me wrong, I LOVE autumn and summer, and I think Spring sort of takes a bit of a back seat sometimes, but Winter. Crisp, clean, winter-wonderland WINTER? When we are forced a bit closer to one another, when holidays give us that special little spark in our chests, and our bellies are full with all the food and drink and all the trimmings we could never quite finish in summer time? Yes, winter is my favourite time of year. It’s a reflective season, a journaling season, a time to slow down and focus more on yourself. On your lived ones. On our inner and outer selves. It is a season to deal with issues we might not normally talk or surmise about. And, yes, one of those issues is death and dying.
Do you remember what I wrote last week? About how the dark time of the year, this time of year, is when we prepare ourselves, our hearts, and our spirits for the changing times?
When everything is dying and falling fast asleep to prepare for winter, how will you approach the changing times? With curiosity, wonder, excitement? What do your ancestors whisper in your ear? Calling upon them for advise during troubling times, is only half of the equation. We can also use their guidance to actualize our life dreams. It is time of the All Hallows- Halloween, the perfect time of year to seek out those family Teachers of our past. The divide between the worlds are a bit blurred…and so many cultures have their own rituals for remembering fallen loved ones. Theirs is a source of untold humour, untold memory, untold wisdom. Trust in them, and they will guide you on your good, true and beautiful way.
Descending into this time of year allows us to finally sit back and ask ourselves some pretty damn-good questions. Questions that can be asked and answered with or without loved ones, but it makes the questioning even more meaningful when you have a heart-to-heart with those you care for and consider your friends and equals. And it is important to make preparations for yourself BEFORE you are aging or ill, that way people know what the hell to do with you when one day you are suddenly cold to touch and sleeping the deep sleep. These things aren’t always easy my friends. But certain tides of the year bring different lessons. They need not be so grave (no pun intended) and doom and gloomy. Death and darkness in Western culture has been molded into something that isn’t talked about, is feared and is averted with our eyes.
Here is something I will tell you that really shook me a few years back when my grandfather died in the winter. The earth was too cold for burial, so as an usher, we rolled him into a tomb whose insides looked like nothing more than a garage. There was no beauty there. Coffins just lay there side by side, some stacked in niches. Others were simply rolled aside to make room and I was appalled that my family didn’t have any other way to honour this man we were interring. I vowed I would never have that happen to me, or any other loved one.
Ask the hard questions now, and answer them. Make a game of it if need be. Descend into your deep beliefs, and listen to your ancestors. Do they offer any advise? How will you honour them, and how will you honour yourself when you are amongst them?
So, as always I will ask you to ask yourself: how are you as you are entering this time for yourself? Have a heart-to-heart with yourself and reflect on your week past.
Were you able to incorporate last week’s challenge with your busy Life? If so, GREAT!
If not, that is okay too.
The whole point is to go at your own pace. You shouldn’t have to struggle, it should come naturally and on its own time.
Things you can do this week to descend into the deepening dark times of the year:
1. Again, call upon your Ancestor Spirits for guidance, counsel, and heritage.
2. Take some time to reflect on death and dying. What are your families traditions? And do you hope to make some of your own?
3. Layer on the clothing, grab a scarf, and go for a walk. Let the cold air cleanse your mind. Do you hear anything on the winds?
4. What are your preparations for a will? A healthcare proxy?
5. Do you want a traditional burial or a more green burial? Search the internet, there are many different ideas out there from many different cultures.
6. Visit loved ones grave sites and bring an offering. Sit with them, reflect on the questions provided and any you may have yourself.
7. Set up an Ancestor shrine if you haven’t already done so. Framed pictures and flowers, favourite foods, and drinks. Honour them into your life, I’m sure they would appreciate it.
8. Dress up for Halloween! Go out there and have some fun too! Halloween has a dual purpose to honour the dead and to honour the living memory of them.
9. Create some art inspired by your ancestors. Write a story and share it with your friends & family on Halloween/ Hallowmas.
10. Host a dumb supper potluck! Eat and be merry and set out plates on a table for the beloved dead. Encourage your visitors to bring along any dish that their families re known for. Share in their memory and share in the food.
So, how will you incorporate the challenge for this week, hmmmmm? I would love to hear. Feel free to reply or comment on my facebook or website page, or if you want to be a bit more private shoot me an email, or simply right your musings down in your journal. The point is to reflect, and learn from yourself.