Post-Samhain Reflections for 2007

Samhain is always a big time of year for me. This year has been no exception. Now that the old year has passed away and the new one is waiting to be born, I thought I’d share some of my latest reflections on the state of my life and the state of the world.

First of all, the small but beautiful Tradition that my Coven belongs to had a Samhain gathering this year. We only had 5-6 people in attendance, but since last Samhain passed without a Tradition gathering at all, I saw this as progress. We had quite a bit of chaos set in when it turned out that the venue we had reserved for our ritual and our dinner had been double booked! Even so, this scheduling snafu turned out for the best. It gave us the opportunity to hold our ritual at the house of one of our Coveners who had never hosted a group ritual in her home before. The ritual went very nicely, and everyone was happy to reconnect after a long time apart.

Since I’d spent the 26th and 27th observing the holiday spiritually, I decided to spend Samhain itself at a Halloween party with some of my friends. I feel very close to my friends, and having fun at parties with them is often a spiritual experience for me. So, I thought that a Halloween party would be a good way to watch the old year slip into the shadows.

At first, everything seemed to be going quite well. Unfortunately, though, some rather serious drama unfolded that turned the whole event into a surreal spectacle. I’d like to blame it on the thinning of the veil, or the presence of some mischievous spirits fiddling with our drunken minds… but really, it was just a rather mundane case of one or more individuals having too much alcohol and not enough common sense. We all survived the night, though, and I’m still friends with everyone involved, so I see it as a learning experience for everyone rather than anything more serious. I love my friends dearly, and I’m happy to stick with them through thick and thin.

Samhain is always strange, but this Samhain has seemed stranger than most. I know that some people who read this probably see “spiritual energy” as a bunch of hooey and just want me to get back to the politics… but I must say that I’m feeling a strong relationship between politics and spirituality right now.

According to my beliefs, and the beliefs of many others, the veil between physical reality and spiritual reality is at its thinnest during this time of year. With all of the leaves and the annual plants dying away, a lot of spiritual energy is moving right now. This is why many traditions take this time to honor dead ancestors — because the flow of energy between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its greatest.

But with each passing year, I feel that this “thinning of the veil” is being affected more and more by climate change. That may sound funny, even to people who believe in spiritual energy… but if the ecological reality that sparks the thinning has fallen into chaos, then why wouldn’t the thinning itself do the same? When I feel the cold rains on my skin, it feels like Samhain is here, and the old year is passing away… but then a day or two later, the temperature slingshots back up to the 60s or even 70s, and I feel like I’m back in September.

Southern Illinois has always had somewhat unstable weather — but with climate change creating further instability, the result is a very strange transition between seasons. And as someone whose spiritual life revolves around the change in seasons, I find this very disturbing.

In any case, I feel that for the most part, we’ve passed the turning point. Samhain has come and gone, and Yule awaits us in just a little over a month. What do I foresee for the new year, both in my life and in the world at large?

In my own life, I can already feel the energies shifting in preparation for a new and exciting year. Some of the changes will come soon, and some will come in the spring… but all of them will come, and all of them are worth sharing.

One major change is where I live. I’m a Taurus, and I like to stay put if I have any say in the matter. But for a variety of reasons, it seems I’ll be moving in the very near future. I’m sure I’ll be staying in Carbondale, so don’t worry about having me disappear entirely. But my life will be thrown into chaos as I resettle in a new location somewhere else in the city. There’s also a good chance that I’ll be securing a more “permanent” living space in the coming year, but I don’t know if that will happen in the near future or sometime next Fall.

Another major change lies in my career. I’ve decided that I’ve come to live in this place, at this time, with these people, for a reason — and that reason does not revolve around stocking the shelves of a grocery store. The Neighborhood Co-op Grocery has been my bread and butter for over three years now, and I still feel that it’s the best retail job I’ve come across in Carbondale. Retail work, however, is not where my heart lies. Therefore, effective immediately, I’ll be resuming work on my career as an author, public speaker, and community organizer. I’ll also be resuming work on a side project with a friend that may or may not lead to income. Of course, I’ll still be with the Co-op indefinitely as I sort out the details of getting my career up and running. However, one of my goals for next Samhain is to have all of my income coming from my “revolutionary projects” rather than my day job at the Co-op.

This is a huge goal. In an economic arena like Southern Illinois, where people can often barely scrape by on retail work, it’s a daunting task to attempt to secure my economic survival through “unconventional” means. But really, that’s what it’s going to take to reach my goals in life, and that’s what it’ll take to create positive change in Carbondale, in Southern Illinois, and beyond.

The trick, as I see it, is to create social and economic projects which are readily achievable in the current setting, yet also serve to enhance and transform that setting. A “pie in the sky” approach to social and economic development doesn’t create change because it doesn’t work in the here and now — and a “conventional” approach doesn’t create change because it continues the same unfortunate trends that have lead to social and economic depression in the first place. Therefore, if our goal is to create social, economic, and ecological abundance in our community and region, we must come up with “innovative” solutions. These are solutions that take the resources we already have on the ground in Southern Illinois and use them in new ways to create economic abundance and positive social change.

I’m working on a few projects that I feel will fit into the “innovative” category. I’ll have more news on these soon. In the meantime, I’m off to take care of a few chores so that I’ll be ready for the big Veggie Thanksgiving dinner at the Interfaith Center tonight. Ahh, yummy food and yummy community connections…

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First Blog

Hi everyone. My name is Nick and this is my first blog on Treesong.com. There’s not really anything that I have to say right now, but if you wanna start a conversation than drop me a line. There is one thing though: I have a poem that I’m posting below. If you like it let me know, if you don’t then some constructive criticism would be appreciated. thanks.
-Nick

Natures Kiss

Here again at this beautiful place, I sit Here staring into natures face.
Some leaves have already turned and fallen from an elder tree.
Many shades of gold, orange, and light browns form a very peaceful looking dance floor around this spot.
The sun toasts the back of my neck lightly.
As I sit Here a breeze comes to cool me now and again.

Looking to the sky, one can see to the top of the elder tree.
The turned leaves continue to fall slowly, but not to worry about this friendly tree being naked. It’s not shy.

People walk by, and don’t realize what they miss. Two pretty girls on the other side of the tree, among its beauty and grace. They don’t know that it’s moments like this that could be called natures kiss.

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Samhain 2007 Approaches

Jack-O-Lantern: This is a Jack-O-Lantern that I found floating around on the Internet. Pretty cool, eh?Harvest time has been a busy time as usual this year. In fact, the prolonged spell of hot weather seemed to add a certain feverish quality to the usual buzz of activity that always comes during the harvest season. Now that the cold rains of fall are finally upon us, though, I feel inspired to write a blog entry about Samhain.

What is Samhain? If you’re unfamiliar with the holiday, I’m tempted to just direct you to an article on the subject. Instead, though, I’ll offer a brief description in my own words.

Samhain, which is most commonly observed on October 31, is an old Celtic holiday marking the end of summer. As the sun spends less time in the sky each day, the winds grow sharper, the cold rain falls, the leaves start dying, the final harvest is taken in, and many of the flora and fauna of summer undergo some form of hibernation or metamorphosis to prepare for the hard, dark winter. Therefore, on a spiritual level, this becomes a time to consider the themes of harvest, change, challenge, and death.

Samhain is a Pagan holiday, but the themes of the season are recognized in many other beliefs and practices. Halloween, All Saints Day, and Día de los Muertos are just a few examples of related holidays that honor beloved ancestors and relatives at this time of year.

What does Samhain mean to me? It means many things, all of which are hard to put into words. I feel Samhain in the coming of the October rains… cold, sharp rains that wash away the leaves of summer and leave the landscape in the crystal clarity of winter. I feel Samhain in the return of the ancestors… on my home altar, in my thoughts, in the themes of my life, and in the landscape of my dreams. I feel Samhain in the magic in the air… an almost electric sense that the veil is thin, that unknown mischief is afoot, that anything is possible as the old year dies and the new year waits in the womb of winter.

My Coven is having a private Samhain gathering this weekend. It’s going to be much smaller than we originally anticipated since most of our out-of-town guests were unable to make it this year. Even so, it will be a good opportunity for all of us who do make it to meet up with each other, share stories of what the year has brought us, and prepare together for the coming of winter.

I’ll have more to say about Samhain as the day approaches. In the meantime, the cold rains of the past few days were enough to leave me eager to say at least a little something about one of the most important days in my year. Samhain is in the air — and even though it’s often a challenging time of year, it’s also a time of powerful magic that I welcome with open arms.

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Remembering

For a long time now, I’ve been in a rut. I wouldn’t call it depression, though it’s certainly had depressive aspects at times. Instead, I would say that it’s been more of a sabbatical. I was tired, broke, and disillusioned, so I took a big step back from my grandiose revolutionary schemes in order to recuperate, regenerate, and reflect upon my life and my world.

In many ways, this was a good thing. It gave me the time to develop closer relationships with my friends; it gave me new perspective on my goals and challenges; it lead me on a variety of quirky adventures and side quests that I would have never had the pleasure of exploring if I hadn’t given myself some breathing room.

But eventually, rest became inertia; stability became entropy; doubt became defeatism. Without even realizing it, I started to accept the problems in my life, my community, and my world as inescapable givens. The people I know and love will always be poor and disempowered; the community I live in will always be conformist and apathetic; the nation I live in will never rise to the challenge of changing economic and political systems that are causing so much social and ecological havoc. This may be unfortunate, but this is the way of things, and all that I can do is ensure that my personal contribution is positive (or at least neutral).

This attitude went on for a while, just under the surface, undercutting my otherwise positive attitude with a pernicious pessimism. Eventually, though, I remembered something.

I remembered that I have the power to create change in my life, my community, and my world.

Really, this idea was nothing new to me. I’ve believed it for a long time now, and I doubt I’ll ever fully lose sight of it. But sometimes, I get distracted by my circumstances and temporarily forget that each of us, in our own way, has the power to create change.

I first started noticing the positive shift in my attitude when I was sick at work the other day. I suffered through about two weeks of flu only to emerge with a persistent cough that was probably due to allergies aggravated by dairy consumption. Whatever the cause of this cough was, the effects on my psyche were at least as bad as the effects on my body. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I wanted the coughing to end NOW.

Then, I had a moment of clarity. I realized that I had the power to improve my health, my mood, and my circumstances. I started singing a few spiritual songs to myself as I worked, and my cough diminished significantly. Later, I bought some herbal tea that helped keep the symptoms in check at times when I couldn’t rest or sing in order to stop the coughing. My energy picked up a bit, and I started getting back into some of my old projects, including the Forbidden Philosophies series. Over the course of a week or two, I found myself shifting from a sense of deep disempowerment to a sense of deep empowerment.

Sure, change isn’t always simple or easy. But change is possible — and through a combination of clear vision and focused intention, we can make it happen.

Now that I’ve noticed what a rut I’ve been in, I’ve started looking at my life with new eyes. Harvest time is upon us, and it’s time for me to harvest the blessed new fruits that have been growing in my life and cull the dead weight that no longer serves me.

Samhain is always a challenging time of year for me, but also a very rewarding one. It’s hard letting go of old patterns, old possessions, old circumstances, and old relationships that no longer serve me. But I’ve harvested so much in the past year that I’m sure it will be enough to carry me through this time of transformation and purging. New friends, new experiences, new ideas, renewed inspiration… Samhain always has its sting, of course, but I have high hopes that this year, that sting will be accompanied by a sense that I’ve harvested enough to carry me through the long, dark, and cold winter ahead.

With that said, I think I’ll be going. I’m in the midst of a major purging of possessions, and I’d better get back to it. I’ve allowed a fair amount of clutter to accumulate around me during this rut, and especially this more recent period of illness. Now, with Samhain approaching, I feel a need to wander among my possessions with a scythe, hacking and slashing at old papers and trinkets until only the most meaningful among them are left standing.

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My name is Treesong. I'm a father, author, talk radio host, and Real Life Superhero. I live in Carbondale, Southern Illinois. I write novels, short stories, and poetry, mostly about the climate.

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