Beltane and Samhain: Reflections of Life and Death
Article ID: 15534
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Kissing Wind Mabigonia Thriceborn
Posted: October 13th. 2013
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As the Sabbats come to us in the planet's orbital spin, light and darkness, male and female on opposing sides that work in tandem we must pause to reflect each of them in their times, and in their reflections. For Beltane and Samhain, this balance is about life in its dance and death in its solemnity. Life in its pleasures and duties, its hardships and its joys.
Let us examine these Sabbats from the eyes of the celebrant who is entering in with hearts and minds untainted by past and partial views, for it is through education, meditation and consideration that we learn.
In the South, Beltane fires roar on the hilltops celebrating the awakening fire in the maturing heart: this is the time for the Maiden and the Mother with the Crone smiling from the shadows as the young ones dance with abandon, letting the power and the thrill of life fill them. The Maypole stands at the center of the town, its ribbons twisted and held fast by the circle who erected it. Its symbolism is there for those who know it: the power of the male being celebrated, but more than that, it is the Axis Mundi: the power of the world's axis turning, for this is the time when life springs forth, awake and seeing the world for the first time. It is the ecstasy of the dance and the remembrance of the cycles - the grand circle that holds us all in its thrall.
Just as Ostara was the time of awakening, Beltane is the coming together time, the union of male and female energies to accomplish miracles. It is a celebration of community with all peoples adding their own colour and song to this world with each twist in their paths. The maypole is not just a celebration of the male priapus - it is the male power of motion and strength: the pillar of the world. It is Yggrdrasil, the world tree re erected to teach us wisdom and it is the weapon against the darkness of the night. Together with the fires of life, it stands tall and true, part of the dance, yet still and sure. Let it remind you of all that you hold dear in this life and those within it.
It is the time of fertile action: the plants that were once seeds have sprouted into delicate green bodies which reach for the sun, ready to sprout flowers, fruits and leaves that will catch the light and turn it into life. It is the power of transmutation and a celebration of the Earth's fertility and her connection to the rain giving sky. The symbolism in our lives and sexuality is clear in this. We are part of the greater cycle; we are sky and earth and we are one together. Only in this way, may we make change. Only in this way, may we bring life - that miracle which occurs again and again through the power of the combined powers of the mother and the father.
Though some traditions choose to focus on this and only this, the depths of this meaning go beyond intercourse and the Heiros Gamos - the ritual of cup and sword. It is a part of our very being, and we each owe our lives to this cycle of rebirth and life that springs always anew... just as each of us owe a death.
This is where Samhain enters in, reminding us of this from the other side of the world where the thin veil spreads across the land. It is a time when spirits roam and the dead speak. It is a time to remember what we have reaped and what we have to gain throughout our lives. It is a time to reflect upon what we bring into the lives of others and to remember the wisdom of those who have gone before us. It is a celebration of the life that was and the journey that follows. It is a celebration of what comes after the dusk and of our connections to the Spirit Realms. It is about harvesting what was once seeds of thought, ambitions and love.
Gathering your energies in this time may help with the winter, which is soon to come, for ultimately it is also a celebration of our survival and the bounties that come with it. It is a time to consider the sacrifices we make and those that have been made on our behalf for all things. It is a time of contemplation as we travel into darkness, taking the light of these things with us. We are the keepers of the light for those beyond, and through us they live on: their life sparks holding house in our beings as they take the longest road - a road they must ultimately take alone.
Samhain is a time to remember the wisdoms of the ancestors who have seen the world and who know it. At Beltane, we look with the eyes of the adult child, and at Samhain, it is through the impartial eyes of the dead - the ones who see all things and have become one once again. We seek their voices in the darkness of this night and in the turning of the seasons - for we know they will come again, and will guide us along sometimes for generations. In Samhain, we remember the darkness - where things creep and watch - we imagine them reaping their own bloody harvests, even as we remember the serenity that comes to all things. It is a time of unknowns - and often fear, for man fears what it does not understand.
The balances set upon the scales -- from the wild gyrations of the Beltane dance to the Watchfires representing the light we keep for our ancestors to drive back the approaching night -- are as different as night and day - but this is the point: these celebrations and holy Sabbats are the complementary weight to each other - reminders of why we live and why we die to be reborn to then live again with the coming spring. This is the balance of life and the way of all things that must live.
Remember then this wisdom: Death is guaranteed, but life - life will always spring eternal and, in that, we have reason to celebrate!
Blessed be and may the Lord and Lady be with you as their marriage approaches in the south and their harvest aspects know the sorrow of loss in the north...
Kissing Wind Mabigonia Thriceborn
Location: Bridgetown, Nova Scotia
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