October is my favourite month. I don’t know why, but it’s always been special to me, like there is something potent in the air at that time of year… I listen to my intuition these days, so I decided to investigate; and I became interested in the Pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which means ‘Summer’s End’ in Gaelic and takes place around 31st October.
Samhain is one of the major festivals of the Wheel of the Year. It is a celebration of the end of the harvest, the end of the cycle of birth and growth in Nature, and the start of the darkest period of the year. Not surprisingly, the festival is associated with death and the Dead, and the idea that at Samhain, the veil between the worlds of life and death is at its thinnest. People in ancient times took the opportunity to remember and honour their ancestors at that time. As Pagans, they celebrated death as a part of life, and Samhain was a time to understand more deeply that life and death are part of a sacred whole. In a way, Halloween is a diluted version of Samhain, and as early Christianity grew and spread throughout Europe, Samhain then also morphed into All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.
In the Celtic tradition, November 1st is the first day of the new year. Now, this really piqued my interest. I wondered why the Celts would associate the beginning of something new with a time of darkness, endings, and death… Feels counter-intuitive at first glance, although there is more than one way of looking at things. Because for the Celts, darkness was fertile with all potential. And so, with the darkest part of the year comes the opportunity to rest, to reflect, and to dream of new beginnings. To plant the seeds of change. Just the same, if you are struggling with a period of darkness in your life right now, perhaps considering that it might be a time of renewal for you, and treating it as such, might be a good idea. What if you could turn a negative into a positive, and reap the rewards just by changing your outlook on a situation?
Through NLP, I have come to realise the importance of training my mind to think more consciously, and to always question my perspective on circumstances. Is my view the most empowered one? Is it really mine, or someone else’s unhelpful belief, which I was exposed to and simply adopted one day, for no good reason at all? Is it in alignment with my own true self, or am I just following the crowd? For example, someone asked me recently how I deal with writer’s block. The answer is simple: I don’t believe in writer’s block. So, as a result, I never experience it. This may seem like an arrogant answer to some people; in fact, it’s not. But it is a conscious one. I do believe that sometimes you need to recharge and replenish your mind, to re-ignite inspiration and imagination in a new way. It’s all part of the process of writing, and creation in general, just like winter is a part of the wheel of the year. It’s all good. And it doesn’t mean you’re ‘blocked’ in any way. The words we use to describe our experience are of crucial importance. Make sure you use positive, empowering and conscious ones, because it is way too easy to apply a negative label to a situation, and then experience it as such. As Tony Robbins says, “You are not a manager of circumstance, you’re the architect of your life’s experience.”
In order to embody this principle every day of your life, all it requires is a shift of thinking, a leap of mind, if you will. One way of doing this is to become more consciously aware, and to always consider the flip side of the coin. What else could this event or situation mean? What else? And what else? As with the Celtic New Year, starting out in darkness and focusing not on the absence of light, but on an abundance of potential. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change too. And on these words: Blessed Samhain, everyone!
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” – Martin Luther King Jr