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.”
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.”
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.
Showing up for the Yin yoga class my sister teaches at our local wellness center last night, I was cheerfully greeted by one of my Kundalini teachers at the front desk. “Oh Mayry! I’m so glad you’re here, it’s so good to see you!” Her smile was so big her eyes scrunched together to make room.
Now, this isn’t uncommon for the vibes at Taspens, but last night was also special because I had just officially registered for the Kundalini teacher training course they will be offering in the fall. I beamed right back at her, filled with joy and excitement for being a part of this incredible local tribe.
I was a bit early for the Yin class and began some light conversation. The owner of Taspens and a woman I consider a personal guru of mine joined in as well. She also teaches Kundalini and was excited to let me know a few of my next steps.
“I’ll schedule a call with the teacher for you, to discuss a few things,” she said, and then went on to mention the mandatory Saturday Sadhana practices during the course and signing the code of conduct at the end to get our certification. I nodded along in agreement, smiling.
Suddenly, my attention shifted though, “the code is essentially a commitment to the yogic lifestyle. So, trying for a vegetarian diet, abstaining from drugs…” Right there, “uh oh,” I thought as I shifted uneasily on my feet.
Honoring My Truth
I have been leaning vegetarian for the last dozen years but, no drugs? Given that I just found my hag stone after my plant medicine retreat in June and, according to my own personal beliefs, have thus been officially called to the Shamanic path, I worried this might actually be a problem.
“So…” I started, interrupting the flow of chatter between the teachers, “if I were unable to sign the code because I’ve been called to the Shamanic path, would I still be able to take the course?” I asked, nervously.
Shamanism is a part of my path for sure, but I’ve also been called to Kundalini. Not being able to reconcile the too seemed completely wrong – Pachamama had come to me through Ayahuasca AND through Kundalini, how could they be opposed?
“Yes,” both teachers exclaimed, looking at me and then each other, then back at me. They started, “and it’s just about trying your best, we understand some people have to eat meat for medical reasons… Maybe just try it for 40 days, you might be surprised…”
I cut in again, “I have no problem with the diet, it’s just that… I am called to the utilization of ‘drugs’ on a ceremonial basis for medicinal and religious purposes.” They seemed to finally understand what I meant now, their eyes widening to fully ingest what I was saying. “Oh, no, well – he just wants to get everything out in the open up front so there are no suprises when it’s time to sign the code… But, you will talk to him so you can mention that. If at the end you don’t sign, that will always be your choice to make.” My guru finished, half-smiling.
The big smile returned to my face and both teachers responded with large smiles blooming across theirs as well. “Okay awesome,” I sighed, relieved.
Embracing the Unknown
Now, some may wonder, “what’s the point of taking Kundalini teacher training if you know you won’t be able to get certified?!” And honestly, I don’t blame them.
In this world of achievement laden “value,” it would seem I am setting out to rob myself. After all, the certification is the reason for undergoing any professional training, is it not? Well, I suppose it’s not for me.
Some might say I should just lie, or withhold the truth, sign the code anyway. Others might tell me I need to really consider the code and whether I truly feel called to both of these seemingly “contradictory” paths, or even something to the tune of “perhaps your plant medicine experiences are behind you and this is the next step in your development?” To be sure, I’ve thought all these things for myself already too.
But, I cannot lie. Fundamentally, my commitment to authenticity and truth is what has aligned me with my path, and subsequently both of these paths too. And undoubtedly, I feel beyond called to both of them, I am already connected and intertwined with them spiritually. Finally, given the parts that plant medicine has played in my past, I cannot in good consciousness banish all plant medicines from my life in the future – regardless of how well meaning my intention is in doing so.
No, the mental gymnastics to be done here are not to rectify me to the norm – it’s the opposite. I will be a Kundalini Shaman and I will learn to walk this line with grace and appreciation.
Letting Mayryanna Bloom
Somehow it all seems better suited anyway… I’m not just a guru, I’m a Rockstar Guru. I’m not just a yogi, I’m a Rebel Yogi. I’m not just a Shaman, I’m an Modern Eclectic Pagan Medicine Woman who researches and utilizes a variety of ancient spiritual healing modalities to live my authentically powerful life to the fullest – all without shame, malice or discontentment.
I don’t need a certificate. I will proudly slap “Unofficial” to the front of my teacher title and gratefully explain my why to everyone who cares.
This “inconvenient truth” will not detract from me at all, no. This will only empower me more. By allowing myself unpopular distinctions, I will emerge unparalleled.
By allowing myself unpopular distinctions, I will emerge unparalleled.
So, after some careful reflections and considerations, I’m even more excited to study Kundalini now! Certification shmertification – nothing compares to a soul that fully embraces its fate, inconveniences and all (shout out to Nietzsche for his concept of Amor Fati). I am simply grateful for the opportunity to learn, to grow and to further become this gloriously inglorious woman: Mayryanna.
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