Sunday, October 28, 2007

Samhain and the Veil

As we enter into the triad of days for Samhain, I am aware of the gifts that I have received while working on two different Samhain ceremonies that I will help lead this week. Most of what I have gained has been around the issue of "the veil". We say at Samhain that the veil thins so that we can more easily communicate with our ancestors. I approach this thinning of the veil with an attraction, a personal experience, and even a skepticism all of which lead me to reflect. Here are the things that have become apparent, to me.

First, for most of my life, I have had this experience on a particular day in the fall and in the spring when I can see the light change. It is very specific. In the fall, the heavy, hazy, hot, orangey warm light of summer shifts--almost like a cosmic "click--and it becomes light, clear, cooler, yellowish-white. Colors seem sharper, and the air feels, well, thinner. So, I think I have an experience that I would like to think my Celtic ancestors identified as the "thinning of the veil". When I see the light change, other things trigger in me. I shift psychologically and emotionally. I recall the last time the light shifted like this--a year before, and I begin to notice that a year has passed. My life has made the cycle. My ancestors called the year's end and years's beginning. The earth, and her light, signal that for me and my body understands the signals. The psycho-emotional shift moves me more inward as I begin to reflect on what has happend over the last year, what I have learned, mostly from my foibles and unexpected events.

Second, the "veil" are those experiences that set up boundaries around us. The veil defines the present moment. There are events that call me forward. There are events that call me back. But I live right here, right now. Buddhist and Taoist meditation over the years has made this so clear to me. In fact, I am learning that when I am feeling a huge drain on my energy, it is often because I have been working through the veil into the future or back into the past too much. A little of that is okay. A lot of that is exhausting. I am a creature of the present moment. Which leads me to the last point.

Third, we are healthier in the present moment. And we live in a culture that does not teach us to value living in the present moment. Think about all the things that pull you toward tomorrow or which drag you back into the past. I sit writing this on Sunday, but I have nagging in my background mental music the lesson plans that I need to have in place for tomorrow, the conversation I had last week that may have been misunderstood. And those are immediate examples. There are psychological patterns of existence that have been handed down for generations to me that in some sense bind me into ways of living that don't help me. The list of anxieties about the future are limited only by the time it takes me to name them. And so it goes. None of these make me healthy. I am healthiest when I pull back from the veil of past and future and choose to live right now, in the present moment.

Druidry helps me do this. Druidry reminds me to look at the moon, the sun, to stand in awe of the tree, to touch the earth. All of these exist only in the present moment. All of these transcend the veil when needed, but they are present, here and now. And in these days of Samhain, the veil drops and allows us to consider: where we have been this last year; what wisdom has arisen within us; what our ancestors might teach us. Then, the days move one. The veil returns, and we, if we are paying attention, return to the present moment. This is our time. Now. And we don't have time to waste seizing it.

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