Samhain marks the time when the year starts to wane and venture towards the Winter Solstice. It is a festival of darkness and death which is balanced at the opposite point of the Wheel of the Year by Beltane, a festival of life and fertility. Samhain is not only a time to honor and remember our ancestors, family members, friends, pets and other loved ones, but also a time for us to seek a better understanding of our psyches and the depths of ourselves. At this time, the veil between the worlds is at it's thinnest ~ we can see into the depths of ourselves to seek understanding, guidance and to remember our roots.
The tarot is a perfect tool for exploring the self, for taking the journey into the void, to seek guidance and a higher understanding of ourselves.
Tarot is a passion of mine and I love to incorporate tarot into my rituals and everyday life. For every turn of the Wheel of Life there are cards from the Major Arcana of the tarot that incorporate the energy and lessons of each Sabbat.
For me, Samhain is best represented by Death and The Hermit.
In most decks, the Death card shows a skeleton death figure bringing death to all he touches ~ the King with his fallen crown, the Bishop, the woman and the child. But there is a sun rising in the distance, a symbol of new beginnings and hope, reminding us that for every ending there is a new and brighter beginning waiting to follow.
The Death card is a powerful energy, for who can not look upon the figure of death in these cards and not feel uneasy? He brings with him endings, transition, elimination and explicable forces. Of course, the Death card rarely relates to a physical death, but rather, a transition to a new state. Death is not just the physical ending; it is something that occurs continuously at many levels. At every moment, we die to the present to allow the unfolding of the future. At Samhain, this lesson is never more present. We are honoring those who came before us and taught us the lessons that have helped shape the beings we are today; we are also exploring the depths of ourselves ~ we are searching for what gives us our meaning, and eliminating that which no longer fits and has no further use in our lives. The Death card itself is a card that initiates great change; while there may be sadness and reluctance, there is also relief and a sense of closure. The Death card is also about “getting down to basics”, focusing on what is important and removing the unnecessary.
Death is associated with ending, transition, elimination and inexorable forces.
Which of these actions are going to be part of your Samhain celebrations?
Putting the past behind you
Concluding unfinished business
Closing one door to open another
Waiting in an in-between state
Moving from the known to the unknown
Shedding old attitudes
Concentrating on essentials
Cutting out what isn't necessary
Riding your fate
Being part of a powerful movement
Accepting the inevitable
The other card that has particular meaning for me at Samhain is The Hermit. The Hermit is traditionally represented by a grey bearded fellow who has chosen to withdraw from society to live a life of seclusion. He wishes to focus on the inner world and the search for wisdom, and knows this will only come from quiet and solitude.
Samhain is a time that allows us to search for the deeper reality that is beyond the obvious in our life. This quest is solitary; the answers we seek lie in ourselves, not the external world or in others. This is a search for truth that will be found with the stripping of diversions, which directly relates to the stripping away of the unnecessary we face with the Death card.
The actions associated with the Hermit are introspection, searching, guidance and solitude.
Which of these will you be practicing in your search for your wisdom this Samhain?
Looking for answers within
Seeking greater understanding
Going on a personal quest
Needing more and being prepared to search
Giving up distractions
Withdrawing from the world
One of my favorite things to do with the tarot each Sabbat is do a ritual spread that applies particularly to the energies and lessons contained within the Sabbat. One I have found for Samhain is called the Fruit of Wisdom layout.
Place your first card in the middle of your table, and place five other cards in a circle clockwise from the top.
Card One ~ Reflection, fears and blocks
What is holding you back from creating the life you want? What blocks you from your desires?
Card Two ~ Acceptance
Who or what do you need to accept? What cannot be changed?
Card Three ~ Release and let go
What is no longer useful to you? What habits, relationships or thought patterns are worn out?
Card Four ~ Keep and nurture
What talents, skills and abilities do you need to keep and nurture?
Card Five ~Crone's wisdom
What is your intuition telling you? What can you learn from your situation?
Card Six ~ Cauldron of rebirth
What future are you building as a result of reflecting, accepting, releasing and nurturing?
For those who like a bit more “meat” to their readings, try this un-named spread:
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
10 11 12
Cards 1-3 ~ What are the karmic lessons I need to learn in this cycle of growth?
Cards 4-6 ~ What are the strengths I possess which will aid me in my growth?
Cards 7-9 ~ What are the obstacles I face in my current cycle of growth?
Cards 10-12 ~ What guidance will aid me in my journey?
Card 13 ~ What is the overall nature of the energy I am working with this cycle?
To complete your reading, meditate with the cards, write a journal entry or keep the cards on your altar as part of your Samhain ritual.
A lovely affirmation for this time is “I awaken to the Samhain season and release all that is holding me back from fulfilling my spirit's desire. This, or something better, is manifesting for me now, for the good of all and harming none.”
Dance the tightrope of Samhain with brilliance and caution beautiful children of the Goddess!