On Samhain: Going Underground
To be at home in a place, to live in a place well, we first have to understand where we are; we’ve got to look at our surroundings. Second, we’ve got to know our own histories. Third, we’ve got to feed our ancestors… Lastly, we’ve got to begin to grieve. Grief doesn’t mean sitting around weeping…grief means using the gifts you’ve been given by the spirits to make beauty…This locked-up grief has to be metabolized. As a culture and as individuals, we must begin feeling our grief — that delicious, fantastic, eloquent medicine. Then we can start giving spiritual gifts to the land we live on, which might someday grant our grandchildren permission to live there.
—Martine Prechtel, from Saving the Indigenous Soul, Sun Magazine, April 2001
Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself come from, and where you will go.
—Rebecca Solnit, A fieldguide to getting Lost, 2006
Why “Celtic Tantra”?
Tantra celebrates the dance of masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti, Green Man and Earth Goddess. This sexual dance generates the energy which enables us to experience and celebrate our essential nature as loving, creative, sexual energy-beings.
The Celtic tradition celebrates the dance between man and nature, and invites us to transform our lives by attunement to the generative cycle of the natural year.
Our intention in all our work is to rediscover, weave together, and reconnect with these two traditions, and to share the experience with you in our workshops.
The time of Samhain in Celtic tradition
In Celtic tradition, the year is divided into two halves. The “dark” part of the year is called “Dream Time.” This is the time of change and decay in the outer world, and the time of inner journeying. The other half of the year is the “light” part of the year, the time of emerging into the light, and all the bustle of new arrivals, new projects, and new adventures in the outer world of manifestation.
Samhain is a very powerful Gateway. It is all about going into the dark, letting go of what we know, and surrendering to the unknown. In the natural world, harvest is over, leaves are falling, the sap no longer rises, storms jostle the trees and drown the fields in floods, and outer forms decay. Martine Prechtel calls this the time of “composting.”
Going into the dark can be scary. But in Celtic tradition it is also the key to transformation. It is the cycle of “composting” or dismemberment, followed by the gestation in the dark that leads to regeneration in the spring. For this reason, the Celts apparently regarded Samhain not only as the door into the dark, but also as the start of the new year, leading eventually to manifestation in the following spring.
Samhain is also the traditional time for the honouring of the ancestors. Many traditional societies, not only the Celts, seem to have a “Day of the Dead,” festival at this time. A feast is laid out. The dead are remembered and welcomed, and for one night the living and the dead share a feast together. Such honoured ancestors become the Dreamer’s allies in the inner journey underground. Who better? They already walk those dark paths, and have knowledge and skill to guide us through the labyrinth.
Our Samhain workshops are a experiential process which prepares you to step through the Samhain Gateway. We start the process of letting go with a solitary meditation What is falling, what is ready to be let go? Can you allow yourself to drop old attachments and encumbrances as naturally and gracefully as the tree sheds its leaves?
Afterwards, we go deep into the experience of the inner jouneying that follows the letting go. As we do so, we add exercises to empower you, clearing away energetic blocks that stand in the way of full aliveness. After that, the process of lighting the chakras, so that your energized “inner flute” will to keep your inner fire burning strongly throughout your winter journey.
Finally, we also turn to ancestor-work. Modern Western society has often been described as an “orphan culture,” in which we have cut ourselves off from the support of our ancestral allies. In Western culture, the ancestral line often carries a lot of pain and shame in it, which must be healed before we can access our ancestors as allies. So in this section of the workshop, you will explore structures which open up the possibility of transforming karma into dharma, and so allowing you to access the support of your ancestral allies.
We have been leading Samhain workshops now for over 10 years. We have found this to be a wonderfully powerful work at a wonderful time of year. May Samhain become for you, as it was perhaps for our indigenous ancestors, the Gateway into a personal journey of enlightenment and renewal.
©Robert & Marta, Celtic Tantra September 2017