The nights are growing long and cold, frost greeting me as I step outside in the morning, a cool-crispness lingering in the air – life seems to be muffled by impending winter here in the Colorado Rockies. As I wonder out into the crystal-dusted pine forests, and down the winding back roads of this rural American paradise I call home, my spirit is kindled by the upcoming recoiling of nature’s grandeur. For all the dwindling color and noise, there is a building of energy, somewhere deep, in the eternal core. I feel it tingling, soft but intent.

The Wheel is Turning

Samhain (31 Oct – 2 Nov) — Irish Gaelic for “summer’s end.” The standard Irish pronunciation is “sow-in” with the “ow” like in “cow.” Other pronunciations that follow with the many Gaelic dialects include “sow-een” “shahvin” “sowin” (with “ow” like in “glow”). The Scots Gaelic spelling is “Samhuin” or “Samhuinn.” There is no linguistic foundation for saying this word “samhane” the way it might look if it were English. When in doubt, just say “Hallows” or even “Hallowe’en.”

NCSU Society for Paganism and Magic

The Celts considered the sunset the start and end of their days, interestingly, Samhain is the equivalent of that for the year in the Northern hemisphere. It is the coming into darkness, the moment we have no choice but to surrender to cold limitations as the light and heat of summer fade and we prepare to reflect and rest – waiting for Spring’s new dawn.

It represents harvest, in fullness of meaning, including that of scarcity, limitations and even death. This time of year brings a natural examination of our preparedness, security and lack. This is why the veil thins, our ancestors come closer then ever and we are called into deeper consideration of ourselves and others.

Our defenses our low, our senses shocked and options limited in the dark and cold night of the year. Paranoia might even set in if we absentmindedly try to resist this change. Yet, there are so many delights to be had as we all become more limited and vulnerable too.

Despite the freedoms, possibilities and independence of summer’s midday heat, come nightfall we all return home to those we love for comfort and warmth. Sometimes those others aren’t “here,” but that makes us no less aware of their influence in our lives; for better or worse.

Death’s Place in the Year, and Life

In the ever-increasing bounty of the modern world, more and more people find themselves surrounded by the comforts of homes, technology and utilities. The reckoning of harvest isn’t as potentially devastating for most of us now, but does that mean it’s lost its meaning? Celebrations like Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos seem to imply otherwise.

“While non-Pagans see death as an ending, some Pagans view it as a beginning of the next phase of our existence. Perhaps it is because we view the cycle of birth and life and death and rebirth as something magical and spiritual, a never-ending, ever turning wheel. Rather than being disconnected from death and dying, we tend to acknowledge it as part of a sacred evolution.”

Patti Wigington | Learn Religions

Paganism has many forms, contains many religions and creeds, and can manifest in an unlimited number of individual faiths. It is more a recognition of one’s own place among the natural order of existence than a prescription of how to recognize or perform that place. It requires one to accept responsibility for their soul, not as separate from the divine, but as an inspired refraction of divine manifestation, therefore intrinsically valuable and powerful.

If practiced authentically, this leads organically to a more contentious, considerate and compassionate life. Pagans often find themselves recognizing the divine souls within many layers of existence beyond humanity, including that of the crystalline frequencies of earth’s diverse mineral bodies and the archetypal symbolism and teachings of creatures from all sorts of realms and dimensions.

Interestingly, these revelations can lead to a romanticism of death, not as an absolution or escape from life, but as a cyclical progression of endless divine expression. It is the point of life in which spirit performs energetic alchemy and remanifests once again in divine glory. Essentially, it becomes clear that death begets life the same way life begets death.

I believe this is why humans feel the inexplicable draw to these holidays, to ancestors and to the other-side. This is why this night that marks the turn of the Wheel and the Pagan New Year is considered Hallows Eve (holy night) and the days that follow devoted to the saints and ancestors. At nightfall we return home for the dinner feast, we celebrate the day’s work, acknowledge the progress made and make note of anything we might try to do better in the morning. At Samhain we recognize the home within us and those who have helped make us, we celebrate the year’s harvest and make note of our reflections. In both instances, we prepare for more stillness and we say our prayers.

Letting the Meaning Resonate

For the Druidic tribes, intervals of cyclical reality both ended and started with natural withdrawal, reflection and rest. They gave themselves a headstart by considering their progress, intentions and preparations long before the beginning of the next day or year. With naturally increased humility, heightened awareness of their necessities as well as honor for those they rely on and learn from, they set their sights on the future from within the endless prowling possibilities of void’s dark dawn.

Let these ancient practices deepen your own connectedness to nature and the rhythms of the earth and cosmos, simply by meditating on these traditions. Truth always has it’s own ways of touching our hearts and affecting our lives. Allow the enchanting depths of this time of year to envelop your heart and mind, reminding you of your own eternal connection to all of existence, your ancestors and the divine.

I pulled the card

not knowing

just desperate

seeking the answers to unasked questions

Lotus guru

Blooming

like dance

Smiling as she colorfully unfurls

I didn’t feel it then

the weight

of petals

pulling themselves delicately apart

It’s hard work

being gentle

letting go

unraveling to reveal hidden glories

Happening silently

frustratingly

bit by bit

until nothing is left but undoing

Thrusting vulnerability

exposing

inviting

giving all to possibilities

Spreading wide open

expanding

exploding

willing to fall completely apart

And watching myself fall

bit by bit

beautiful peices

collapsing back into myself

An act of violence

this blooming

this undoing

itself cannot be undone

Yet these dead petals

decaying

become more

feeding the blooms of tomorrows

The house is quiet, only the sound of grandma’s oxygen compressor and the restless shifts of sleeping puppies punctuate the stillness. The overcast sky has overcome midsummer heat and a cool breeze wafts through the open front door, spun about the living room by the ceiling fans, tickling my skin at every bare side. Grandma is feeling well, things are calm, and the energy meanders about on the low end, right between “sleepy siesta” and “reading in a hammock.”

This is my harvest.

Appreciating Peace

I’m not exactly opposed to chaos, in fact, at one time in my life a therapist told me “you can be addicted to anything, even chaos,” in attempt to wake me up to my patterns of poor choices back then. I didn’t get it then, but it’s become obvious as time and life’s lessons have wore on.

I have all the markers of an intelligent person: I cuss, do drugs, stay up late and seek other novel experiences. I travel internationally solo, my #1 bucket list item is “swim with sharks,” and I’ve taken myself far past my own expectations and boundaries again and again. Yet, as of late, all I have wanted is a bit of peace.

Actually, I’ve been craving it, deeply. All my efforts to “full speed ahead” in July were thwarted by reality and I spectacularly failed every last expectation and standard I had idealized for myself at the start of the month. So here I am, beginning a new month and even a new phase of the year’s wheel, hesitant to make another attempt at idealistic grandeur for the upcoming month. Though my intuition and awareness are making it hard not to get excited anyway…

Closing a Chapter

Lammas is a Pagan Sabbat, or holiday, and serves for celebrating harvest as the long days of summer begin to dwindle. There are 4 yearly Sabbats including Lammas (Aug. 1st), Samhain (Oct. 31st), Imbolc (Feb. 1st) and Beltane (May 1st). Each Sabbat falls at a midpoint between the Equinoxes and Solstices, and carries its own seasonal/archetypal energy.

The focus on harvest is an interesting one, because it allows for taking inventory. In this way, Lammas invites us to review what we’ve planted and how we’ve sown those seeds since Beltane. Personally, since May, I feel I’ve been caught in a whirlwind.

So much has happened in just 3 short months and they feel markedly halved. From May through the first half of June I was on dieta, preparing and then participating in a spiritual retreat and largely feeling centered, focused and excited. Mid June through the end of July however, were marked by stress, uncertainty and groundlessness. I am grateful for it all.

Despite my tireless devotion, nothing I did before my retreat was “enough” for me. I felt like I was simultaneously the donkey and the carrot, trying to manipulate my development and attention to the “perfect” degrees in order to activate to upmost potentiality of my spiritual experiences. I struggled to remain in my beingness, fighting my addiction to doership at every angle.

Since my retreat, coming home to grandma being ill, I have been unable to maintain strict control over my experiences, feelings or thoughts, and have largely been caught up in the moments as they’ve happened. I’ve been wading through turbulent waters, barely keeping my head up, let alone maintaining “good form.” Yet, I’ve also still managed to study, write, edit, contribute, encourage, connect, love, meditate, practice yoga, share myself and otherwise be authentically me in spite of it all.

The juxtaposition of these reflections is illuminating.

From The Universe has Your Back (card deck), by Gabrielle Bernstein

Beginning Anew

I’m not going to set standards for my organic spiritual disposition. I am this person who studies astrology, philosophy, yoga and practices meditation, development and awareness – regardless of whether or not I make it a “daily task.” I am a writer, editor, collaborator, contributor, consultant, healer, teacher and coach – regardless of how/when/why these things all get done. I’m not these things because of anything I do, I am these things, period.

This is my harvest: I get to be me. In the stillness and quiet, as well as in the chaos and noise. I am Mayryanna. I am a blessing. I am blessed. All the rest doesn’t matter.

So yes, I’m excited. I’m excited to accept where I’m at, appreciate myself and explore the ever-expanding heights and depths of my consciousness. I will certainly be fighting old habits – for some reason I love planning even more than doing lol – but it’s a lesson I feel fortunate to be learning.

May you all have a blessed, reflective and illuminating harvest as well!

July begins Monday. How exciting! Not for any particular reason, but I do love beginning anew.

I’ve had the habit in the past of keeping up with monthly, weekly and daily planning. It always helped keep me on track much better than flying by the seat of my pants. Still, life is life and it gets away for you, so it’s been a few months since I’ve been able to thoroughly plan.

Not this July though. I’ve got plans.

First up: videos. I’ve been challenged to do a month of stream-of-consciousness videos by a friend and mentor of mine. I decided to wait out the turbulence of this past month with all it’s excitement and my subsequent struggles, but I’m excited to get to it. I’ve decided that posting them to the blog will be a great way of renewing my vitality here too, officially beginning the second half of the year of my commitment to daily blogging!

This upcoming month of videos will be very different from the videos I did for April. Those videos were undefined and the goal was simply to get a video out each day. I learned a lot doing that, but this will go a bit beyond that goal, as this time around I will be speaking from the heart straight into the camera… I anticipate many new lessons!

Secondly: I am going to be starting a workout challenge with my sister. I’m very excited about this as I always do better at challenges when I have accountability. It’ll be fun to be working from set workouts as well, as my self-inspired workouts can get a bit boring and repetitive after a while.

Thirdly: I will be carving out more time for my own studies, projects and collaborations. I’ve learned that I need to set aside specific time for these goals or they get pushed to the side again and again. I’m excited for the opportunities this will create but also know it will be difficult – yay for opportunities to grow!

Lastly: I’m beginning another 40-day Sadhana tomorrow that will run the entire course of July, finishing the 8th of August. My focus for this commitment will be strengthening and purifying my will. I will be utilizing the Nabhi kriya as well as the Mul Mantra in conjunction with personal Reiki to center, clarify and inspire my personal power.

To kick off the month, I have yoga and meditation scheduled at my local studio and healing center. Attending classes has also fallen by the wayside recently, so this will be a nice way of getting myself back in the door and setting a precedent for the coming month.

I’m telling all of you this because this blog and many of my readers have become invaluable source of accountability for me. I do not anticipate being perfect at all of these goals, but I’m excited to have them. I’m excited for a month of coming back to my practices and reinvigorating my commitments.

Cheers to July! It’s gonna be so hard, and so much fun!

“Huuuecckkeghhh-ughhh… HUUUECKKEGHHH!” My whole body shakes as I purge violently into my bucket. There’s nothing in my stomach anymore, the Aya has moved through my system and I’m just emitting bile now. My mouth tastes sour and bitter but I can’t drink water yet… Everytime I open my eyes I feel dizzy and ungrounded by their inability to focus as infinite geometric fractals take over my surroundings. “Thank you mama… thank you.”

The House of Masters – Imiloa Institute, Costa Rica

With eyes closed, falling back onto my sweat-soaked mattress next to more than 30 other friends (who were just strangers days ago) on the yoga deck in the Costa Rican jungle, I begin to undergo visuals of exponentially greater intensity and depth once more. I’ve been journeying for what seems like days, but really only an hour or two had passed. I am transported beyond the boundaries of my perception, into the space of existence where the overwhelming unity of Source converges and separation completely dissolves. Pachamama revealing the intricacies of her boundless power and love in every variety of expression.

Image Credit: Fuego Brew Co., Dominical Costa Rica

This is our second Ayahuasca ceremony on this retreat and it had been nothing like my first experience last year or my experience during this week’s first ceremony. My intention this time was “expansiveness” and oh did I recieved it fully. Laying there, feeling as though every cell in my body were vibrating, I pondered drinking a second cup of the medicine – though even the thought made me feel as if I might die.

“This,” I thought, “this I how I conquer fear…” Preparing myself to accept the challenge whilst Pachamama soothingly comforted me in the back of my mind, “you can drink if you want, but you don’t have to,” I knew, the answers to my intention laid just beyond this fear. I had to push my limit and drink again.

Image Credit: Fuego Brew Co., Dominical Costa Rica

The second cup was gritty, filled with remnants of the holy vine. I braced myself add I returned to my mattress… But nothing happened. I felt better – actually, I felt amazing.

I would still be journeying for about 4 more hours, and it would remain full of psychedelic wonder and more purging, but I was able to regain some grace. I felt strong. I felt proud.

I would under go a series of “downloads” the rest of the night, receiving divine messages about my life, my purpose and my path. My future became clear. My past, my excuses and my fears now all obsolete.

During the night I would visit my loved ones, both alive and dead, to express my gratitude, love and even my grief. “It is an honor to mourn you,” would become a mantra as I kissed the faces of friends and family who had long gone. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” falling evermore from my tongue.

I kissed monsters and communed with the goddess in her ever-changing forms. My heart was opened to the endless expanses of possibility and I gained new appreciation for the spaces of infinity and creation that are Pachamama’s domain. I experienced true, unbridled and uncontained power, drinking deep of endless glories.

It was so hard.

It was so ugly.

It was so divine.

It was so beautiful.

I wish for a world where everyone understands that discomfort is the price of legendary. And fear is just growth coming to get you.

~ Robin S. Sharma