The Celtic year is meant to be a time of soulful reflection, on what to let go of, and what to invite in. I'm sure there will be great bonfires and spiral dances. In the Northeast US, though, there is devastation, loss of life, and let's not forget the trees. This lament for the trees came by way of author Jean Houston, and is written by Zen Priest and poet Bonnie Myotai Treace.
"I grieve the end of orange leaves. The soon beating death of trees so many, cracked and broken, pulled from earth, struck and whipt by wind: trees that will not be mentioned with love, just blamed for downed lines, troubled lives. My people, they will be breaking, falling, dying. I sing their lives. Stronger than silk, milk, midnight. Deeper than shadows, intimations, rootedness itself. The taffeta sound of their falling is my grief endlessly landing falling again then landing again endlessly..."
This is a grieving season, for a seasonal end, and our trees go out with a colorful warm palette display. It's a natural time to give in to the waning rhythm, and rest, be in the man or woman cave. And to acknowledge deeper experiences of loss, separation from loved ones, soulful intimacy. In the three magical days of the Celtic New Year, we can touch the eternal and sacred. And we can each experience a deep inner death and rebirth.
The yew tree, known as the Ioho in Irish, has been known as a tree of death, and of eternal life. It's sacred to the Druids of Ireland, and is often found in graveyards. Is this because the yew tree is poisonous to animals, and will keep them out? Or is it a bit of surviving pagan knowledge, wonders author and Druid Chief Philip Carr-Gomm, that this evergreen lives to be 3,000 years and is a symbol of eternal life.
In his book, The Druid Way, he writes, "In the Druid tree-calendar Ioho is placed at the time of Samhuinn (pronounced Sow-in). Samhuinn is the time of death and rebirth of the Celtic year, in the three days between 31 October and 2 November. At this time, we honour the Ancestors, the Departed Ones and prepare for a new cycle of the year. Later these days were Chistianized and became Hallowe'en, All Saints and All Souls days."
This is my favorite time of the year and I'll be taking some time to make it meaningful. I have something in mind -- a simple celebration -- that will include trees. This is the time of the void, when we're stirred in the cauldron and transformed. In an age that pulls us out of ourselves, just being present to the deeper self is an achievement. That's what I'll be going for and I wish that for you too -- and a soulful transition in this Celtic New Year.Philip and Karen Smith/Getty Images