Today is Samhain, often called the Witches’ New Year. It is the final harvest sabbat, one of the ancient Celtic cross-quarter days marking the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. Although the exact midpoint is no longer on October 31—this year it falls closer to November 7—many witches still observe the traditional date as a sacred time in the Wheel of the Year. It is an in-between period as the nights are growing longer, the trees are surrendering their leaves, and the last fruits of many crops are gathered.
It is also a time when we honor our beloved dead, those who have passed back into the great cycles of decomposition and regeneration.
We are always moving with the dead.
Go for a walk, and every place your foot falls is full of those who have come before.
We can know this, even as we also know that death is a great mystery. In some sense, there is no death, only life, the endless transformation of states. And yet we also know loss, we are broken apart by grief, losing some parts of who we were when we lose those we love.
As the nights continue to grow longer, we descend into this realm of darkness, this mystery, this blackness of all that came before and all that is yet to come and all that we cannot perceive in excess of the visible and the present.
This is a time for surrendering certainty, for sitting with deep questions without answers, for feeling our way into the dark.
If you feel so moved, you might create an altar to your ancestors—of blood, of path, of possibility—the ancestors of the land, the more-than-human ancestors reaching across deep time.
You might think of this time as a moment in the spiral of time inflected with ending/beginning, letting go of what is no longer needed and opening to what you don’t yet know that you need.
I hope you are staying warm, soft, and slow. Those are some of the spells I am casting today.
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Michael J. Morris is a witch, an astrologer, a tarot reader, an artist, a writer, and a teacher.