This past month cycle has surely been interesting in terms of self discovery and insight, especially the last two weeks. I know I’m not alone in saying so, due to pretty much every conversation I’ve had with someone lately. I always encourage looking to nature for explanations and healing (as within, so without) as we reflect the seasons, weather and energetic pull of the planet(s) in our own physical and psychological being. Observing these shifts of different aspects, how they affect us and how to maintain our harmony with them is a health practice, undoubtedly!
Anyone following astrology has probably heard that 4 planets are in retrograde phase right now; Pluto, Saturn, Mercury and Mars. When planets are in a retrograde (backwards) cycle, the energy or feeling they inspire within us, is encouraged to be introspective and reflective, rather than expressive. In regard to those planets mentioned, we are looking at inner transformation or restoration (Pluto), rehashing past events & regarding present structures in our life that we no longer need (Saturn), analysing our inner voice/ communication with our own self & inner truth (Mercury), committing to some ground- level-self-improvement in anticipation for a ‘power up’ whether it be education, health, fitness etc (Mars).
Personally I can say I’ve been feelin’ all’a that! My physical body has been out of alignment therefore causing pain which has forced me to rest. This giving me the space to have some serious convos-with-self regarding unacknowledged truths, regrets and to map out a new approach and dedication to my health. Its been heavy, but it helps to know we aren’t alone, right?
Samhain (pronounced SOW-in) also just passed in the southern hemisphere. This is originally a Celtic festival marking the last of the autumn harvests and the beginning of winter, or the ‘darker’ half of the year. Obviously, there were no Celts living in Australia, but the recognition and understanding they gave to the psychological impact of the seasons is worthy of a mention.
Samhain is celebrated October 31st in the northern hemisphere, and May 1st here in Aus. The opposite end of the year is the beginning of summer and was celebrated as Beltane (May Day with May poles and bonfires etc in the north). Due to these dates being the beginning of the build up to the two most opposing and extreme seasons (summer and winter), it was considered that they were liminal times when the veils between the ‘worlds’ were thinnest.
Like a pizza base flipping in the air, the integrity of worldly energetic barriers wobble ever so briefly, as the seasonal shift toward these two points of summer and winter occur. What does this have to do with how we are feeling?
Well, we humans are observational creatures, who like to mimic our environment and tribe. When we see the energy of the earth at Samhain become more withdrawn, cold, damp (more yin) we too become mentally withdrawn and introspective. When its colder and darker we seek safety and warmth with our families, eating restorative foods. Essentially we prepare to hibernate and reflect on the year that’s passed.
During the liminal wobble of Samhain and Beltane we understand that this dense, massive change is upon us. We observe change is happening in the external environment and so anticipate change of our internal selves. The ‘veil’ that becomes thinnest to us psychologically is the communication between our conscious and subconscious mind. This may manifest as moments of extreme clarity in regard to something we have been mentally baffled about for some time. We might experience a genius mental download of information or inspiration that was hidden in our depths. We might decide to have some kind of mental crisis looking back over the past year and decide to get the hibernation gear ready early. It’s up to you how you work the influence that’s around you, after all (;
In essence, Samhain sets you up for transition and transformation. It is the perfect time to start some kind of inner growth/psychological/physical healing work. It is also the time where you probably most feel like you need it!
This time of year also brings to mind the myth of Persephone and her descent (or abduction if you rather) into the underworld. The short story: Hades, God of the underworld took a fancy to Persephone, Goddess of flora/spring and abducted, or maybe even politely convinced (I interpret myths my own way & am aware I will never get a job at a museum) her to travel to the underworld with him to become his Queen. As Persephone wasn’t around to tend the vegetation of the world, it started to die off; the land becoming barren and cold. Her mother Demeter noticed this, realised Persephone was missing and threw a hissy fit searching for her and pleading Zeus (baby Daddy) to bring her back from the dark depths.
Hades was eventually convinced to return Persephone to her mother, but not before the underworld Queen had eaten seeds of a pomegranate. This ensured she would have to return for three months of every year, in which time the land of the living would experience winter without her presence.
I could write a whole other article analysing this myth and drawing the parallels with our human experience of the inner and outer worlds, and maybe I should have.. too late now, I’m not doing this over.
But lets suffice to say it is a coming of age story. A bit like when you go off with that ‘wild’ guy (or girl/person) your parents disapprove of. It’s not about him after all. It was never about him. You chose to test yourself, to claim your independence, to learn more about yourself in a spontaneous bout of rebellion. Usually you get a lot more than you bargained for and it’s not always great. But in the end you do learn and your self-awareness coronates you Queen of your own life and mind.
These life milestones or descents to darkness, only to rise transformed and learned is something familiar to all of us (I wrote more about it in this article). In this myth Persephone embraces the underworld with the feminine qualities (not gender specific) of human nature; receptivity, observation, stillness, compassion, adaptation. Once she understands her environment she is empowered and takes a functioning role on her throne, ushering and judging souls alongside Hades.
Thanks to his Queen, Hades now knows a thing or two about life and fertility. He realises all life will end unless he allows her to return to the living; and so here is the life/death/ transformation cycle. The seeds of the pomegranate he offers Persephone tie them both together in this cycle forever. What has this to do with us again, you ask?
It’s a metaphor, as all mythology is. Connecting us to a more poetic story of the winter blues, or depression, or epic personal transformational accomplishments. We understand that we have an internal cycle as well as the earth having a seasonal cycle and sometimes they mirror.. everything is cycles!
During such times we could take a leaf from Persephone’s book (like as of now with all this funky change energy going on). We can sit compassionately with ourselves, embracing the shimmering darkness & raw truths presented. We can ask what this information wants to teach us and be willing to adapt & transform from our introspective visit.
Hades, it should be mentioned, was also called Pluto. The very planet that is retrograde right now which influences changes, transformations and phoenix moments. Hence its name.
So tell me, how have you been feeling lately? What compassionate Persephone-like methods do you employ to help you in moments of stillness and transition? Don’t be shy, someone out there needs the medicine you have to offer!
Handing you all crowns,
Sami Lou x0x