“…and the lights, turn them off my friend….and the ghosts, we’ll just let them in, cause in the dark, it’s easier to see.”
When the Crowds Are Gone, Savatage (Jon Oliva, Criss Oliva, Paul O’Neil).
There is a special ambiance created by Mother Nature during the fall season. It is a time of transition. Whether we are conscious of it or not, energy is shifting, and we interpret it and adapt to it in a variety of ways. Some of us feel loss at the waning sunlight as we head into winter, dreading the oncoming cold weather. I look at it as an opportunity to celebrate.
And I wonder, when did we lose our appreciation for darkness?
Did we come to rely too much on fire, and then electricity, once it became available?
Did we allow the shapers of culture and doctrine to convince us that dark is synonymous with evil?
Or are we just subject to our instincts, which tell us that a path we can’t is a threat to survival?
I would like to believe there was a time when our ancestors held a different view of darkness. Perhaps just outside of the primal fear of what can’t be seen, there existed a respect for mystery. Before candle lights and then electric lights and then digital lights threatened to drive out every last shadow in the world, before we would only trust what we could see physically…
Perhaps we had a different respect for darkness, before maligning it with evil.
Our ancestors and contemporaries around the world who uphold nature based religious practices, honor and respect the qualities and energy of both light and darkness.
So as we prepare for Samhain (Halloween) and the following Winter Solstice (Yule), we celebrate the shift from light to dark and light returning, connected through a seasonal dance. One is not superior to the other, one is no more “good” or “bad” than the other.
Here are a few ways to reclaim the power of the Dark Season.
Celebrate the Shadow
The Shadow is an aspect of ourselves which is often suppressed because it goes against social convention. It is one of our most valuable teachers, and usually speaks to us through our grievances with others, or through creativity. Your Shadow is like your inner wild child that needs an occasional platform, and most likely not at a conference at work. Though depending on the nature of your work, that may be appropriate, but I wouldn’t try it generally.
The modern celebration of Halloween is a great example of a socially acceptable venue to let the Shadow play. Wearing costumes, allowing what is usually scary (death) to be treated with humor, even the desire to be scared for entertainment are outlets for the Shadow. Halloween also welcomes trickster energy as pranks are generally tolerated. If you are inclined to wear a costume, be it for a party or to Trick or Treat with the kids (or by yourself, rock on, we won’t tell anyone…) why not draw on the magick of imagination to help you manifest your goals?
The term Glamor, before becoming synonymous with makeup and expensive clothing, originally referred to a magickal practice of aligning with energy to accentuate one’s image or abilities. The power of appearance to create illusion of having what one desires carries out today, for example, as the act of dressing for a job interview entails cultivating the energy of power and competence through appearance. By selecting a costume that helps you align with the energy of what you want to manifest or accentuate in yourself, you are allowing your Shadow side to play while also using the power of creativity to shift your energy. The concealment of identity accompanying the donning of masks and costumes relieves us of attachment to our egos. We can, instead, honor our Shadow side and allow all different aspects of ourselves to enjoy playful, creative energy.
Make Peace with the Dark
If the idea of a relaxing vacation from work has ever sounded appealing, imagine the luxury of being surrounded by darkness. A break from glaring screens and all the distractions of images, text, and sounds that battle for your attention in every waking hour.
Light is demanding.
It allows us to see, and propels us to action.
We are taught to “make hay while the sun shines” and for many of us light is stimulating, calling to attention the floor that needs to be vacuumed, the unfinished to do lists, the unchecked emails.
Dark is a vacation. In the dark you can turn your attention inward, or to other realms. To Spirit, to memory, to dreams, to emotion.
Perhaps that is why we are taught to avoid it.
Turn off the lights, let the dark become a luscious escape from the demands of light. Allow yourself to see in the dark with all of your senses rather than giving eye sight all the credit. And you’ll save a little on the light bill, which is always handy with winter arriving….
Honor the Ancestors
Speaking of those we can’t see with physical sight, the transition from Light to Dark Season marks the time of celebrating the Ancestors (although we can celebrate them any day) because we are reminded by Nature of the cycle into death and then rebirth. Leave offerings of your Ancestors’ favorite foods and treats. Burn a special candle or incense in their honor. Reminisce with them, and with those still here physically, about them. Ask for their guidance. Ask them to help you feel and sense them. Make music, dance, chant, sing and talk to them.
The darkness is not really evil, not is it empty. It is the space we overlook in the rush to have problems solved, in the search for proof of physical reality. Happy Samhain, and enjoy the richness of the Dark Season.