The New Moon is the darkest point of the lunar cycle. Samhain is the pagan sabbat that marks the peak of autumn and the beginning of the dark half of the yearly solar cycle. This year, these two events are lining up within 24 hours of each other: the dark moon and the entry into the darkest time of year. The New Moon’s sign, Scorpio, embodies this idea of moving into the dark, encouraging us to investigate our deepest fears. Meanwhile, the sign’s co-rulers, Pluto and Mars, are also just finishing up a conjunction (alignment), magnifying the intensity of our focus on the shadow realm.
This Monday is Samhain (also celebrated as Day of the Dead, Halloween, and All Soul’s Day) marks the point on the Wheel of the Year when we see the days grow noticeably shorter. Leaves are falling from the trees, and we see decaying vegetation on the ground. We are being prepared for our transition to the winter months, when vegetation has died or gone dormant. These visible signs of the end of a cycle remind us of death, literally and figuratively. Our thoughts naturally turn to the idea of mortality. All things must end, and there is a passage into darkness before the cycle begins again.
Leading up to Samhain, the energy is magnified by Sunday’s New Moon in Scorpio (exact 10:38 AM). With this Moon, it is helpful to set aside some quiet and reflective time during the day. Psychic protection is also important now, as our openness and emotional sensitivity are running high. But it is also a fruitful time to receive omens and notice synchronicities. The veil is thin throughout the entire second half of the fall season, so those in the spirit realm are more able to communicate with us than at other times. In fact, Sunday and Monday are powerful days to do ritual and ancestral work.
How else can we make use of this time, with so many forces guiding us to confront the dark?
It’s not an easy question to answer, and the answer is different for each of us. “Confronting the dark” can be just an idea, an abstraction. It is all well and good to talk about “facing your fears.” But how do we actually do that? The dark, by definition, is something we can’t see – or at least it makes things hard to see. How do we know when we need to go deeper, when going into the dark is a necessary step to moving forward?
Here are the questions that have been up for me: What fears are (still) holding me back?
My answers have been surprising. Currently, I am fairly content with most areas of life: partnership, home, business, and creativity. But what I can pinpoint is the nagging fear that this very contentment, this happy part of my life, shall also pass. That things are so mellow right now, that something dreaded is about to happen. And, that nagging fear is really keeping me from fully experiencing the pleasure of the present – the joy I have already, all around me, in my daily life. So the pain that I have is anticipatory pain. I am trying to prevent the pain that I know will come in the future by creating it in the present.
My work, then, has been in confronting that fear: that this happy time will all come to an end. There are two approaches to this work, and they seem to conflict. Firstly, I’ve had to look at the source of the thought – “something dreaded is about to happen” – and see its roots in my childhood. Things were unstable, and something dreaded often did happen. It was a pattern I got used to. For me looking into the dark means acknowledging the origin of this belief, shedding light on it – and recognizing that it does not apply today. Much of my anxiety is based on childhood memories. So, changing the belief isn’t accomplished in an instant. It’s an ongoing learning curve.
The second thing to confront about this fear is that, on the other hand, it is true. All things do pass. This phase of my life will, too. How can I acknowledge that reality and not mourn it in the present? I can acknowledge the things I am enjoying each day, as they are happening. I can embrace a daily gratitude practice. I can take a walk in nature. These are all things that bring me to the present and remind me not to get stuck in fear of a future I can’t control.
Here are some questions for your reflection during these next few days, as the Moon grows dark and we move toward Samhain:
What fears are (still) holding me back?
Where in my life am I feeling pain at not being able to move forward?
Where do I just feel stuck, bored, and stagnant? (And maybe that stagnation is beginning to turn into pain.)
On the New Moon and on Samhain, you can more easily delve into your own dark, and find the power that lies in answering these questions. This is also a powerful time to ask for help from the spirit world – ancestors, guides, and guardians – to assist you.