Friday, October 31, 2014

Owl Wisdom at Halloween

On the night before meeting with the Moon Goddess Circle, contrary to my usual practice, I decide to prepare for our gathering.  Usually I wake up fresh and put together a loose agenda the morning of our meeting.  But tonight I feel like settling down and perusing various sources so that this meditation -- prior to Halloween -- is just right for our group. During this time of shorter days and longer nights apprehension rises; many of us are affected by the waning light from Halloween until Christmas. From Samhain (Sa-ween) to the Winter Solstice.

So I gather up some favorite resources and delve in.

First I consult my calendar.  Elizabeth Barrett writes, in Samhain -- Divining the Unseen: [now] the veil between worlds is thinnest.  The ordinary and extraordinary meet. (I have always been fascinated by this juncture!) Death and life touch at the edges. Mysteries drop hints.  

Next I open Create a Dynamic Year 2014:  The Divine Feminine Way to Rhythmically Create A Rich and Fulfilling Year by Lisa Michaels.  Samhain, she says, is a medieval Irish word for summer's end. Despite the mellow beauty of fall, many of us mourn the loss of sunlight, the warmth and abundance of summer. We're anxious about darkness falling early and the long cold winter.  Indeed, the six weeks from Samhain to the Winter Solstice are the darkest of the year.  Lisa also notes that the veil between the worlds of life and death is thin and traditionally ancestors are honored by displaying photos and lighting candles on their behalf.  I notice that All Souls Day is the day after Halloween.

In The Path of Druidry:  Walking the Ancient Green Way, Penny Billington notes that physically Samhain is a time for settling down to winter, preserving food, and clearing the garden.  Here the goddess takes the form of the crone, winnowing away the old and outworn and scouring the earth before it's winter sleep.

What a potent image.  It makes cleaning out closets -- putting away summer clothes and sorting out winter things, passing on what's no longer useful -- feel almost ... archetypal!  All of a sudden I don't mind putting my modest garden to bed -- collecting the last flowers, gathering up the stones I scattered about in the Spring, now lost underneath overgrown plants and fallen leaves. Tidying for winter is the task of the crone, smile.  Mundane chores are infused with meaning.

Having soaked up all these rich associations, I pile up my books, grateful for time spent today with our oldest daughter and her boyfriend who came over for our traditional pre-Halloween dinner and pumpkin carving. Paul carved a scary Scrooge and Meredith an awesome owl.  Joey pulled out his phone, found a recipe and roasted the seeds. We lit our creations and took pictures that were posted within the hour.  After a pleasurable  day and my bedtime research, the world felt enchanted.  I slipped easily into sleep ...

... only to be awakened hours later by the hooting of an owl!  Paul jokes that Meredith's pumpkin conjured this owl.

Drifting back to sleep, listening to these calls of the wild is like being in a dream.  The voice of the owl is strangely muffled but deeply resonant, thrumming through tattered treetops.

I wake up early with a vision -- flaming wings in the night sky -- etched in my psyche. In the dream I was with a group and we were watching for a signal.  This vision was far more portentous than we expected -- V-shaped wings aflame in the navy nightscape.  It confirmed something:  All is well.  All will be well. Fear is unwarranted.

With that strange feeling of having one foot in each world, I pad downstairs and pull out Animal Speak. Of course it turns out Owl is the perfect totem as we navigate Samhain to Solstice -- symbolizing The Mystery of Magic, Omens, Silent Wisdom and Vision in the Night (!)

I marvel at the synchronicity but Spirit is not done yet.  Today's lesson in A Course in Miracles? There is nothing to fear.  Despite the assurance of my dream, my mind veers toward:  OK, but what if you are, in fact, anxious, apprehensive or fearful? Or prone to worry?

The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength.  The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, though not necessarily in a place you recognize as yet, you have remembered God, and let His strength take the place of your [apprehension].  The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear.

This penetrates my defenses like rays of light filtering through chinks in ancient armor.

How many times do I need to be shown that accepting what-is, as it flows into the moment --without fuss, fear or worry -- is the only sane way to be?

As I set about arranging an altar for the moon goddesses, to say I am inspired is a bit of an understatement.

When our circle gathers, I share how these events unfolded because they remind us of the themes that weave through this closing arc on the wheel of the year:  letting go, turning inward, scouring out what's no longer needed, honoring our ancestors, preparing for winter, the potency of prophecy and acute vision in the dark.

As we settle onto our cushions, I lead us on an inward journey to a clearing in the woods.  We sit under a starry sky and crescent moon, encircled by pines.  Our guardians are solemn owls, sentinels along the path and perched in the branches around us. Some are just over our shoulders; others are hidden in the shadows.

These owls lend us their nocturnal vision so we can see our way clear through this dark cycle. Their ability to hear the subtlest movements teaches us to attune to what's not being said. They lend us their resonant voices as well as their skill of silent flight, for times when flying below the radar is best.  Their predatory accuracy teaches us how to sustain ourselves, even when resources seem scarce. They bestow their healing power, prophecy and wisdom.

May you hear the call of your wild soul this Halloween.

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