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STORIES OF SPIRIT…Embracing the Darkness [the wheel of the year, hygge, and spirit honoring]


The first snow has settled on the forested hilltop, I call home, bringing with it feelings of slumber and deep knowing.  It calls to me to get comfortable; put on my sweater pants & neckwarmers, and begs me to go deep into my own being.  We, like all living things, are connected to the planet we live on, and her cycles have a great pull on our lives.  When we listen and flow with the current of nature we find balance and understanding.

I began acknowledging the effects of seasonal change on my life when I was in my early 20’s and started exploring Wicca and other Earth-based spiritual practices.  The rotation of the Wheel of the Year is a significant factor in most spiritual practices associated with nature, for such teachings recognize that we are part of our world, not separate from it.  This belief is a powerful one that makes us look at ourselves and the world around us differently.  It is a lens through which we can perceive that which is hidden, both in ourselves and in the environment.

The Wheel of the Year is a cycle of seasonal holidays observed by most pagans.  It consists of 4 quarter dates, marked by the Solstices & Equinoxes, and 4 cross-quarter dates that note the halfway points between. 

We are fast approaching on one of these markers on the Wheel of the Year-Samhain/Halloween.  Halloween which is known as Samhain in the Celtic traditions, Alfablot (sacrifice to the elves) in Old Norse, and Día de Muertos/Day of the Dead in Hispanic culture, and All Saints Day to the Catholics.  All of these celebrations take place within a period of 3 days; October 31st-November 2nd and they are all associated with honoring the dead (note-All Saints day is about honoring dead Saints in particular).  Coincidence?  I think not…

Until modern times people had to live in close relationship with the Earth, as we were more likely to have healthier livestock and fuller harvests if we knew a thing or two about the cycles of the planets.  This relationship also allowed us to refocus and renew our own spirits, for slowing down in winter gave us time to be crafty and cunning, to tell stories around the fire and to reconnect with our families.  These cycles were not limited to those who experienced the drastic seasonal changes of the North, for all places cycle…

Knowing the cycle nature takes in our area is vital to mental balance.  In the North, the darkness of Winter can be hard for many; Seasonal-affective disorder is a thing.  It is particularly hard if we create unreasonable goals for ourselves in the winter months.  This is not a call to full-on hibernation, it is instead a notice to be kind to yourself, to recognize that your body wants to move slower in the dark season.  To take it as an invitation to sit around the coffee shop and chat with friends on your day off, instead of tackling a major project.  It is a suggestion to pick up a handcraft such as knitting or crochet and become productive in a way that lets your mind wander and dream…for the Winter months are for dreaming and planning.  It is also a reminder that when we connect to the season we do not seek to avoid it.  The Norwegian people have this one down…they call it Hygge!

Hygge {Hue-gah}-The feeling of comfort and cozy, with friends or alone.  It is about embracing the unique aspects of the Winter.

For those of you wondering why the fuck I am talking about Winter when it isn’t even Halloween yet, don’t worry…I am getting there.  Halloween in Vermont very often comes with snow, those of us who live in the North are familiar with the need to incorporate Winter Jackets into our kids Halloween costumes.  (A few years ago, my granddaughter went as a Vermont Wonder Woman, which means she had a jacket under her outfit and a Winter hat instead of a circlet).  Therefore Hygge/embracing the Winter season is important to us now, for Winter is certain to embrace us.


Samhain/Halloween has changed a lot for me over the years.  I am still in love with costumes and the mirth associated with the season, but as my spiritual practices have evolved, my reverence for the Dead and the Otherworld has become paramount in my celebrations.  I take the time to remember my Beloved Dead (friends, family, loved ones and ancestors) at this time.  When I pull out my box of Halloween decorations, I find resting on top, pictures of my loved ones in Spirit.  I pull them out lovingly and give them a place of honor in my home.  My home becomes a place of memories as I go about my daily life.  I place most of the photos in my kitchen, as that is where my working altar is.  Here along the window sills, and upon my altar I place photos of the ones I love…a picture of Adam walking along the ocean, my father in his Marine dress uniform, the high school photo of my grandmother Eulalie, Grammy Brown when she was most likely my age, my grandfather sitting in the backyard, my friend Mike with his mouth wide open in laughter, my husbands grandparents whom I loved like my own (particularly Grammy Bickford), and my Aunt Sissy & I hugging the last time I saw her.

You can choose to live this way.  It is not a religious thing, it does not require you to say any vows or swear allegiance, it is simply a choice to be connected.  Something we could all use in these times of change.  Hell being more connected to our world, naturally makes us more compassionate and concerned with what’s going on, but it also gives us a sense of belonging…

Here is a how-to on embracing the season & honoring your Beloved Dead-

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What you will need- pictures of your Beloved Dead (friends, family, loved ones, ancestors), memorabilia-trinkets that help us remember, religious or spiritual items if you choose, any candle

*choose a space to display your photos and memorabilia-this can be one shelf or throughout your home, it does help to have them somewhat contained, so my suggestion is to keep it to one room.  I choose the kitchen, as it is where I keep my working altar.

*Keep the photos up as long as you like, but I recommend at least the 3 days before and after Samhain/Halloween.

*During the time you have the photos up, talk about your Beloved Dead, tell stories of them, sing their favorite songs, drink their favorite beverages, eat their favorite foods, REMEMBER THEM…this is the greatest honor we can give to our Spirits, the gift of remembrance.

*Remember the Hygge of the situation, embrace the dark season and the places in our memory it takes us.  Be comfortable while you remember and honor, cuddle up on your couch and watch an old Halloween special, remembering your childhood when your mother/father/grandparent sat with you as you sat fascinated by the magic of the season.

*Light a candle on your altar, or in the room, you have your photos set up whenever you are able.  This is a symbol to your Beloved Dead that you are calling out to them.

Remember that everyone has the ability to feel their Beloved Dead, like a candle flame in the darkness your Spirits, can use to find you.  Although the ways they communicate with you may be subtle…dreams, songs, birds, knowing, feeling, smelling, they are trying.  If you are seeking deep connection with your Dead I suggest reaching out to a Medium https://www.salicrow.com/, for we are more like Light Houses; giving off a much broader span of light and attracting more spirits, making communication easier.

Whether you choose to connect with your Beloved Dead this season or not, I highly suggest welcoming Hygge into your life.  Savor and enjoy every moment, the cold rainy days & the snowy blustery days as well.  Our environment stirs up emotion in us and helps us to better understand ourselves.  My other suggestion is to get yourself good winter gear.  Be warm, you will like it better!

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