Today is Halloween and also the second day of the festival of Diwali and to have both celebrations at the same time is quite magical, because while their roots and religions are quite different, ultimately their messages of giving thanks, praying for prosperity and letting go of things that have passed are the same.
Halloween has been celebrated for many years and is believed to have originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain. Traditionally this is a time when the end of harvest is marked and the beginning of winter begins, when the line between our world and the ‘otherworld’ is thin allowing pagan gods or nature spirits to enter our world. In the past, people would leave offerings for these spirits, dress up and also ask the souls of their departed to come back to the home for a feast.
Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in Indian culture and is a five day festival of light; light over darkness, good over evil , knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. It correlates with the darkest new moon night of the lunar calendar and in celebration, candles are lit, sweets are eaten, houses are cleaned and prayers are said to the Lakshmi (the goddess of fertility and prosperity).
While having a little mini-break with friends in Wiltshire at the weekend we decided to visit the Avebury henge and stone circles and were fortunate to witness a ceremony marking Samhain. During the ceremony, the earth was blessed for her harvest, food was passed around and shared by all and songs celebrating life were sung reminding us to go within, have faith in our intuition and the rhythm of life.
I felt deeply connected to this celebration, not only because of my pagan roots (my great grandfather was a Druid) but also because my practice of Chinese Medicine places great emphasis on honouring rhythms of nature and cycles of change within the body. In my practice I am currently talking about how this time of year encourages us to focus on going within and appreciating the natural change of Yang to Yin, of movement to stillness. It is generally a time to quiet the mind and slow down and fighting it will only lead to symptoms of imbalance in the body.
So, as the days draw try not to feel despair about the long winter months ahead. Schedule in time to cultivate habits which allow you to see the light. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
- Get outside as much as possible. Even murky daylight is good enough to help our circadian rhythms and ensure we have enough melatonin to help us sleep.
- Light candles and fires (if you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace at home).
- Appreciate all that you have in your life. Is there stuff that you need to let go of? Relationships, situations – get some professional help doing this if it’s tricky.
- Cook stews, soups and eat warm food wherever possible.
- You can’t pour from an empty cup so fill up your cup. Write short list of things that make you happy, that fill up your cup and do one of these ever day (I have making my bed as one of mine!) Even if it’s escaping to bed 10 minutes before your other half to do a pre-bedtime mediation, try to do it, you’ll feel the benefits.
Wishing you peace and light.