10/31/2011 07:28 am ET Updated Dec 31, 2011

Samhain 2011: Celebrating our Ancestors and the Earth

In this week leading up to Samhain, there are dramatically high tides, a dark moon and cold coming after an unseasonably warm month. The darkness each night seems so early; the turning of the wheel is upon us. This is an excellent time of year to listen to the rustling leaves for messages from our intuitions and from our beloved dead and ancestors.

These are times of great challenge, from environmental devastation leading to the flooding in El Salvador, the earthquake in Turkey, the starvation in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, to the crumbling economic systems that still favor the 1 percent. This is a wonderful time to listen to prophetic voices that may arise from within or without, from personal connection to the Earth or collective experience. We need the wisdom of our ancestors, the guidance of love and intuition from the Earth so that as this season of death turns towards rebirth, we will find a profound renewal that serves all of the interconnected web of life.

Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, Goddess Worshipers, everyone who chooses to honor the seasonal changes will gather, many on Saturday night, many more on October 31st, to honor the Earth and our beloved dead, to acknowledge that death is a part of life, to witness to our losses, and begin to welcome the new year. Most will gather in private with friends, and many will offer public rituals--many are already listed on Many rituals are traditions of many years standing, and many are created anew this year. There is no need to celebrate in solitude.

We are all going to die. Death is a transition into mystery, into spiritual realms, perhaps to feed ongoing life on earth, perhaps to journey further in spirit, perhaps both. Perhaps neither. It's a mystery. The question is how can we most deeply listen this year, when the veils between the spirit and earthly realms are most thin, to receive guidance, courage and clarity for the days to come?

My personal preparation includes unburdening my heart by the ocean. Nature feeds me and moves me to awe. Political activism is part of how I honor that awe, so I stand up with the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is joyous to come together as a radically diverse 99 percent, and acknowledge the devastating economic system that does not serve the people, that is destroying the environment, accumulating wealth for the few beyond all reason and making a farce of democracy.

How do I take responsibility for my part? How do I think outside the boxes of what I've been taught? How do I contribute to positive visions for a future worth living in? All good questions to ask the darkening night, the stars in the sky, and the spirits that abound.

This Samhain, I hope to take courage and comfort from the ceremonies, from listening to ancestors who have gone before, from moments with my beloved dead and from time spent in community. Face to face. In sacred space. Not online, not brokered by Facebook or email or cell phone or text. In person, in body, and open and present to spiritual realms. We need all the help we can get.

Get off line. Go Outside. Listen.

Blessed be.