Easter has just passed. What do you make of it, the way this spring festival of resurrection lands in the southern hemisphere season of dying?
Of course, if you are in the northern hemisphere, you will be in high spring right now, and fully aligned with Easter rejoicing. And so you might enjoy this post about spring.
However, in the southern hemisphere seasonal cycle, we are approaching Last Light/Samhain, the night of the dead, that falls on April 30. For the resurrection and regeneration aspect of Easter, we have a long wait — till spring equinox on September 23rd, or first full moon after it, on October 14th.
Here in the southern season of late autumn, nothing could seem further from the symbolism of Easter, with its eggs filled with new life and the wild mating of hares/rabbits.
But there is another strand to the Easter story: the theme of death.
And so one way of easing the sense of anomaly might be to tune into the sequence of death and sacrifice that precedes rebirth.
Walking the inward path
An Auckland church, (St Matthew-in-the-city), maybe unconsciously, reflects this aspect by each year creating a labyrinth in the week leading up to Easter. The labyrinth, based on a mediaeval design, is set out in river stones. Visitors are invited to remove their shoes, and walk quietly through many twists and turns, until they reach the centre.
Winter is a fitting time for such a journey, to embrace the darkness, and enter the inner quiet. There the seeds of regeneration, in their own secret way, lie sleeping and gestating, awaiting the signal to stir and awaken.
In the dying season, whether outer or inner, we are challenged to deepen into trust: trust that no season lasts forever and another cycle will inevitably come round.
In the dying time we reach deeper within, beyond distractions of the outward seasons such as spring and summer, and into the dark where life gathers and returns.
Some tasks for Last Light
✪ Make your will, or revise the one you have.
✪ Attend to your end of life wishes, and write them down. (You will find guidance at the end of my book Spirited Ageing.)
✪ Visit the grave of someone dear to you and lay flowers, stones or shells there. Talk to your loved ones who have passed, and sing to them.
A Simple Ritual for Samhain
Here are some ideas for a simple ritual to honour those who have died. (And of course, feel free to improvise, with your own creative ideas. This is just a skeleton).
★ Write their names on cards, bark, or small pieces of paper.
★ Create an altar containing what you gather from nature that is dying – twigs, empty cicada shells, dry leaves, bones.
★ Make a circle of small candles on your altar, and whether you are alone, with friends or family, light a candle for each one who has died and whom you want to remember in this season of the dead.
★ Sit quietly, feeling the presences. You may wish to sing, chant or play music as you sit. Enter into Being. Feel connected with Source.
★Give thanks, say goodbye to the presences and ground by sharing food together.
A Blessing for Last Light
As you enter the dark
May you find trust
As you embrace non-doing
May you find freedom
As you look into the face of death
May you find courage
As you touch into the depths
May you find nourishment
PS Would you like to learn how to create rituals for the passing seasons, and times of transition, loss or celebration?
Check out my exciting new online course, The Sacred Art of Ritual
This post is an extract from my Seasons Newsletter. You may sign up for the newsletter on the home page of this website, and receive a free audio gift.