A Samhain Practice to fill you as the Nights Grow Long.


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My spiritual journey began consciously at age 23, when I attended a Women’s Conference at the Unitarian Church called “Women in Religion—A Walk in Many Worlds.”

It was hosted by the late Margot Adler, NPR Reporter and granddaughter of famed psychiatrist, Alfred Adler.

That weekend, she introduced us to Earth-based, goddess-centered spirituality.

Margot was the midwife who gave birth to my first sense of awareness of energy rising from the earth into my being. In a circle of 120 women, those who were suffering some kind of trauma, hurt, anguish, sorrow, violation, or dis-ease were invited to the center of the circle. There were not enough women left on the outside to link hands in support.

Together, we raised our voices in a healing chant that changed my life and set me on a path that delivered me into belonging.

A part of this journey brought me to a deeper understanding of the way that our lives, our bodies, and our experiences mirror the cycles of the earth in her path around the sun.

At the core of Celtic spirituality is the “Wheel of the Year.”

The wheel consists of two solstices, two equinoxes, and four cross quarter holidays—giving us something to celebrate every eight weeks, or so.

For most, New Year’s resolutions are made on January 1, but for me, those intentions are set at Imbolc on February 2. When we lived closely with the land, before we were cut off by civilization and grocery stores, this was when we planted our seeds for the harvest that would come in the fall.

Each year, at that time, I take stock of the different segments of my life and determine which areas deserve my focus and attention. Like the 12 houses of an astrological chart, I consider how I would rate the different segments of my life, i.e., work, home, finance, spirituality, friendship, and romance. Once I’ve determined two of the lowest rated areas, I choose a few small, actionable steps for improvement, and into that soil I plant my intentions for growth and transformation.

Upon writing, we are currently in the midst of harvest season. In the recent past, we celebrated Lughnasad on August 2 which is the first harvest, and the autumn equinox on September 21 which is the second harvest.

Before us, on October 31, is Samhain (pronounced sow-win) which is the final harvest and ancestor’s night—when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. In farming communities in the northern hemisphere, these are the months that crops are harvested in the order of their fullness. And for those of us who find power in symbolism, though our hands may not be gathering the sustenance that will get us through the winter, we are reminded to consider what we have been blessed to manifest this year.

So, this is where I wonder what intentions you might have planted in February.

What did you see beginning to sprout at the spring equinox (March 21), when day and night were equal and the days began to grow longer? What did you joyfully bring to blossom at Beltaine (May 1) as the spring was turning into summer? What was illuminated in your awareness at the summer solstice (June 21) when the sun was at its peak?

And now that we are well into the season of harvest…what bounty is yours to rejoice?

For me, in a year of freedom from the corporate world, I have so much to gather into my cornucopia of abundance. I have nurtured and healed old wounds of betrayal, self-loathing, self-doubt, and disbelief. I have written with vulnerability and intention, and touched the hearts of others. I have held space for friends who are grieving, and provided support for friends facing huge medical challenges. I have learned a great deal about myself and my ability to be present, compassionate, thoughtful, and caring.

I have figured out that I do not have to return to the corporate world in order to be happy and prosperous. I have studied death and dying, and in the process have learned how to live more fully. I have learned to believe in things that I cannot see with my eyes, but vividly feel with my heart.

I have fallen in love with someone I never dreamed possible…myself. In my 49th year on this earth, I have lived my very best year yet, and I simply cannot wait to top it in my 50th.

I would love to share the sustenance of my harvest with you. Please tell me what you are bringing to the table of thanksgiving, so that I may offer my gratitude for the abundance you, too, have manifested in your life for the glory of your beautiful heart, and for the good of all that is.

Darkness is coming, and you have gathered so much light! The bounty of our yield and warmth of our togetherness will carry us through the dark months of winter, beyond the longest night of the winter solstice (December 21), and back to the beginning of the wheel of intention, at Imbolc.

As the days grow shorter, may you find priority in sharing valuable time with those you hold dear, be they family by blood or by choice. As the wheel turns, may your fortune grow in a multitude of ways previously unimagined. Thank you for being a blessing upon my sacred journey. Blessed be.


author: Melissa Baker

Image: Author's Own

Image: Artur Rutkowski/Unsplash

Editor: Catherine Monkman


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Melissa Baker

Recently retired from the corporate world, Melissa Baker is enjoying self healing and exploration through the art of writing, while being of service to her beloved community, and studying to be an end of life doula. Her blog can be found here. She lives in Winter Park, Florida with her cat, Morgan.

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Melissa Baker Oct 17, 2018 2:41am

Valerie, thank you for walking this path with me. We shall be torchbearers for one another throughout this darkness and back into the light. May your harvest be filled with joyful bounty!

Valerie Maynard Oct 15, 2018 2:08am

Melissa, I feel so deeply connected with the words expressed and sentiments shared here by you. I’ve always had an awareness of my life mirroring the cycles of the earth, but you have brought it home in such a beautifully illuminated way for me. I’ve been feeling some fear rise at the dark months ahead, but now I feel content to ride the wave of the cycle with all the magnificent light I’ve gathered. Thank you for sharing. I haven’t been on elephant for many months, and I was randomly inspired to take a visit. Yours is the first I read ❤️

Melissa Baker Oct 10, 2018 7:29pm

Nancy, thank you for sharing your harvest with me. I am grateful for all of the beauty that continues to manifest in your life. Can't wait to see you next week!

Nancy Smith Miller Oct 10, 2018 5:00pm

Thank you for introducing me to your powerful Celtic spirituality. Walked barefoot in the park behind the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis last week with my sister and felt such a connection with the earth. Much to be grateful for - health, strengthened relationships with family and friends, time enjoying the beauty of the mountains and the joy of seeing you send love and light into the world at every turn.

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Melissa Baker Oct 10, 2018 1:45am

Thank you! I bow to you and the blessings you bring to all you know. So grateful to share this journey with you.

Melissa Baker Oct 10, 2018 1:43am

Grateful in so many ways for the abundance and beauty in your life, dear one.

Melissa Baker Oct 10, 2018 1:42am

I am so honored to be sharing this journey with you, dearheart. You are an inspiration to me, as well. xo Here's to every new beginning and the abundance they bring.

Melissa Baker Oct 10, 2018 1:41am

I bow in reverence to these great blessings in your life, and so much more! xo

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Chris Day Oct 9, 2018 6:24pm

This is a beautiful piece! Embracing the seasons and using them to grow and take stock of what's important is a wonderful way to live.

Tracy Dover Huggins Oct 9, 2018 3:16pm

Sustenance and Joy 🍂🍁🍂

Suzanne Paszkowski Oct 9, 2018 9:55am

I am grateful for your blog, which has brought me some great inspiration and insights as I have been going through a year of transitions, as well! ❤️

Patty Vickers Oct 9, 2018 3:36am

Terrific information! This Celtic wheel feels so right, more aligned with Mother Earth. The bounty I'll celebrate: the end of a long cycle of isolation, convictions strengthened by trials, a renewed energy to work for women's rights, and the blessed comfort of family.

Heather Armstrong Oct 9, 2018 2:51am

Now I finally know the meaning of some of these words! :) Celtic spirituality is interesting and I am looking forward to learning more.