The dark of Easter

by | Apr 24, 2019 | Rituals, Seasons Newsletter | 10 comments



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
©Juliet Batten


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.


  1. Hilary

    Hi Juliet – we had some brief wonderful sunshine over Easter … now back to our April showers – however nature is blooming happily around us. We can benefit through death … we learn so much as others in our lives slip away. The labyrinth seems to be a wonderful walk with thoughts in mind. Your ritual ideas are so appropriate as too the empathetic poem … take care and with thoughts for your autumn and winter – cheers Hilary

    • Juliet Batten

      Enjoy your spring Hilary. The labyrinth is a great place for reflection. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Hilary

    I delighted in this reflection on Easter – refreshingly directing a deep inner focus which feels very appropriate for us as we enter this change in season, and especially your blessing for last light. Thank you Juliet

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Hilary, and I’m glad you enjoyed the blessing. It just ‘arrived’ from somewhere.

  3. marja

    “to embrace the darkness, and enter the inner quiet.” I love to do this Retreating this time of year and surround myself with books, more writing and candles and looking into the wood fire.
    Great the circle of candles and love your poem “the blessing last night”

    • Juliet Batten

      Marja, you paint an enticing picture of retreat. It sounds magical. Thank you for your kind words, and enjoy the writing.

  4. Susan

    Hi Juliet,
    I was thinking that Anzac day is a southern hemisphere version of the day of the dead. Thoughts?

    • Juliet Batten

      Yes, I’ve often thought about how close they are to each other, and contemplated the resonance between them. So I agree with you Susan. Interesting, isn’t it? Thanks so much.

  5. marja

    Beautiful poem Always wanted to make an altar with natural objects. I prefer the summer and autumn but also enjoy the winter and I do tend to retreat with a book by the fire.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Maria. Winter is a good season for poetry. I hope yours is going well, and a book by the fire is always comforting.


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