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Samhain New Year Reflections

At last the weather is cooling, the leaves are falling, and the time of Samhain is here. Samhain marks the beginning of the new year in the Celtic tradition so I decided to begin my reflections on the growing season a bit earlier this year. A time when the strokes of this season’s brush are still evident on the land and in my mind. For me, the beginning of a new year requires a look back.
As a seed harvester, the past eight weeks have been busy. This Autumn we experienced the driest and highest October temperatures on record which lead to an extended seed harvesting season. But of course, not all was well. Through the wildfire smoke, the uprisings turned violent in Iran, the economic pain felt here at home by most of us, and the general unease, I continued to dutifully pluck seed heads provided by plants who seemed as startled as I was by the timing. The days still got shorter but the rains didn’t come.
For me, the current social, political, and climatic uncertainty creates an ever present state of uncertainty that fluctuates between a low level trickle and raging river of fear and despair. The promise of another day has always been uncertain and not to be taken for granted. Yet there are times I feel I can’t keep up with the speed and torrent of this water anymore.
At the same time there is another river of divine beauty on this earth that takes my breath away every day. Of fierce courage and of people around the world fighting with their lives on the line for sovereignty, for justice, and for a better world for all of us-both human and non human. And there are people who carry creativity with words and colors and soil and cloth who show me that the waters in THIS river are just as strong, just as raging, and just-if not more- powerful.
I live at the confluence of these rivers.
Upon reflection during this time of Samhain something is becoming clear. I go to the garden to heal. To remind my big heart that despite the pain of the world there is beauty. To tell and to show Mother Earth that yes, I see the harm, but this little patch in my care; this part of you is safe. Safe for the insects to feed and to fly. Safe for the birds to perch and fill their bellies and raise their babies. Safe for the roots to grow deep. Safe for the seeds to grow and flower and lay down new seeds for future generations.
Clarity and calm also comes to me when I realize it is not the number of seeds harvested, the amount of money made, or the size of my social media following that determines my success. Though yes, those things matter, but I will not define success or failure on these terms. I will think about how I felt, how I contributed, how me, my community, and those I love were nourished by this land. How many snakes made a home here? How often did I take the time to collect the fallen fruit to give to the deer? Here are a few more questions I ask myself as I look back on 2022. I offer them to you as well in an attempt to find connection and shared values around the patches of earth we love and are so privileged to care for, whatever and wherever they may be, in the hopes that the land you tend can tend you back as well.
Was this garden life giving to me and to the greater than human world?
Where can I leave the land to just be and offer freedom and sovereignty to the Earth?
Where can I give rather than take?
Where in my garden do I go to say thank you? To the land, to my ancestors, to the ancestors and living stewards of the land I live on?
As things begin to die back- what brought me to life this season?
Where did I try my best?
Am I doing too much? Do I need all of those …?
As I begin to answer these questions I have made some decisions about the future. I will leave the tall sunflower stalks for the Robins to rest. I will leave the flowers full of nectar as long as they last for any foraging insect to feast on. I will lay blankets of plant matter to warm and protect the unfathomable life at the surface and beneath the soil. I will respect the sovereignty of life that wants to grow here and not rip out every “weed” only to replace it with my will. I will be with the beings of this land in love and serve them in generosity. I will fill my heart with this beauty to keep despair at bay. So that I can turn and face and do whatever is required of me outside this fence to join with others to make a better world.
As I take time to reflect, I am still busily doing the seed work of cleaning, germination testing and planning for this season's seeds to be available out in the world at local holiday markets in November and December and on the website in January. I will send out an announcement here and on social media when I have more details.
Take care of your heart out there,

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