Gathering beloved memories at Samhain
As I walk the paths of Earthaven Ecovillage, the fallen acorns remind me of my beloved sister friend Rowan Farrell, whose death I’m mourning this year.
Long ago Rowan learned to make acorn bread. She would gather up a bucket of acorns, crack their shells, leach out the tannins and then grind the nuts into flour. She offered me a piece, wide and flat like zucchini bread. I still remember the moist texture and nutty flavor.
As the leaves fall from the trees, Samhain season (aka All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween) is a natural time to reflect and grieve other losses in our lives. Many cultures consider this to be a time of year when the veils between the worlds thin. And this year it also falls under a full moon!
What, or who, are your losses this year? Perhaps there are things you have chosen to let go? And others that were beyond your control?
Sobanfu Somé, now an ancestor herself, encourages us to embrace our grief, to feel the depth of our sorrows and to release the emotions that come with it. When we hold our feelings in, we can begin to feel numb, disconnected and stuck. She also reminds us that there is no time limit on grief, that it takes as long as it takes.
How is it that you allow yourself to grieve?
There are so many ways . . . I like to make a small altar with a candle, a photo and a sprig of rosemary for remembrance. This allows me a space to focus and to connect with my loved one when I am grieving. I have also made picture collages, with images that remind me of my loss. Or I go to a safe place in the woods, where I can cry aloud among the company of plant allies.
It's been a year of loss for many of us. When another beloved–a precious mentor of mine–died this summer, a sister proclaimed “a tall oak tree has fallen." I often associate oak trees with the women who came before us, those upon whose shoulders we stand. Even though they have left the earth plane, they gave us all that we need in the seed of an acorn, that we may plant it, tend it, and grow into the fullness of our own being.
As I gather a handful of acorns I feel a sense of promise. I dream of the future, imagining the women who will someday stand on our shoulders. The acorn holds both the memory of those who have passed and the promise of those yet to come–much like the cycle of life and the seasons that are integral to the spiral we walk in the Wise Woman tradition.