As we approach Samhain (October 31 – November 1) our awareness naturally moves in the same circles as our ancient ancestors as we all prepare for a shift in the seasons.
In the Northern hemisphere, this seasonal shift manifests itself in autumnal themes, and Samhain is the cross-quarter holiday marking the midpoint between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice.
The ancient Celts simplified this seasonal transition by establishing two halves to their calendar: Light and Dark. Samhain marked the seam between light and dark in both agricultural and philosophical terms.
Most of you may already know this, but a little known fact is the connection between Pleiades and Samhain. The Celts were masterful astronomers and astrologists. From their geographic position, the Celts could see the star cluster, Pleiades, quite easily with the naked eye.
Pleiades is cluster of nine stars, but only seven are seen with unaided vision. Pleiades is heliacal, which means this group of stars appears to rise and set in the heavens. This particular group of stars is extremely noteworthy because the rising and setting of Pleiades heralded the birth of light and dark in the Celtic view of time.
Rising in May, Pleiades marked the official start of summer (light) and thus Beltane was celebrated at this time.
Conversely, Pleiades’ descent in the skies at this time launches the journey into the darker half of the year. So, when these shimmery beauties shone their brightest, at midnight on October 31st, the feast of Samhain was consummated and the new year was made official (Samhain observes the beginning of the year in the Celtic calendar).
What’s more, our ancestors knew the potential for transformation was ripe at this pivotal point in astronomical time. Ergo, many of the rituals and traditions observed at this time were all geared to tapping into the transformational power inherent in this time.
Samhain is a gateway into incredible metamorphosis and the position of Pleiades during this time is optimal for creating profound change in our lives.
In fact, the Pleiades stars can serve as a guiding light as we move through the darkness of Samhain.
Samhain is a time of descent into dark realms which are represented by the upcoming winter months. The Celts used this time to gird their loins because they knew potential hardships loomed in their future. Today, many of us admire the Celts because they were fiercely courageous and faithful to their own spiritual tenets. In truth, they were stalwart because they had to be. It took real fortitude to survive a harsh winter, and death was certainly a reality on many levels.
Realizing this, the Druids understood (and utilized) the potential guidance offered from all sources. One form of guidance can be found in the seven virtues represented in the seven stars of Pleiades.
In the same way, we can cast our higher awareness into the stellar realms and follow the Lights of Guidance as our Druid ancestors did.
When the potential darkness of decay or even death threatens to close in on us this time of year, I invite you to look to the heavens as our ancestors did for guidance, assurance and illumination.
This Samhain, at midnight, honor the old ways by lighting seven candles; one for each ancient virtue represented in the stars of Pleiades.
Upon lighting each candle, affirm these seven starlit virtues:
- Truth: Maintain honesty in all things, especially with yourself.
- Purity: Remain clean and wholesome and therefore pleasing in the eyes of the ancients.
- Faith: Be resolute in knowing all ways are blessed to those who have faith.
- Patience: Surrender to the perfect timing of the Universe.
- Kindness: Compassion, generosity and goodness are the guardians of the soul.
- Temperance: Sustain wisdom and discernment through self-control and moderation.
- Determination: All is lost if the will is weak. Illumination is granted to the persistent.
This Halloween season, if the darker connotations of Samhain like death and dark power threatens to overtake your joy – simply look up to the heavens, and recall those glittery lights of virtue sparkling back to you.
Likewise, as we in the northern hemisphere embark on the dark months of winter, it’s assuring to know these starry illuminations can serve as soul-guides upon our path, lighting our way to greater wisdom and life experiences.
I hope you have enjoyed these observations about the connection between sacred Samhain and Pleiades, the starry calendar compass between the light and dark halves of the year.
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