Tag: The Dead Time

The Dead Time

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellEvery year I honor The Dead Time by posting some of my creepier accounts mucking about in the Middle World. Last year I compiled them, along with a few new stories, in  Real Wyrd: A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World
To our Western European Pagan forebearers, Samhain marked the beginning of the Dead Time. At harvest’s end when the sunlight was in short supply, it was a natural time of thanksgiving. On a practical level, it was appropriate to cull what must be stored for sustenance during winter, what must be seed for the next planting season. Spiritually, it was the time of honoring the spirit world—deities, Nature spirits, and the recently deceased. Closing the year, along with celebrations of successful harvest, so were the dead honored. A place-setting was laid at the celebratory table for those who had died that year, and food was left for them. I would imagine that ages ago, when resources were scarce, the gratitude expressed for the dead at year’s end was heartfelt and sincere, as was the enjoyment of the celebratory feast. These were the last decadent celebrations of the year, heralding the bleak winter ahead.
Samhain is commonly called The Witches’ New Year, though it was taught to me as marking only the year’s end. The new year didn’t begin until several weeks later, at Winter Solstice. Just as harvest closed the year in autumn, the return of sunlight at Solstice brought hope for the new year, as well as affirmed survival of the harsh cold. The time between these holy observations was the Dead Time, a space outside mundane time and perception, the mystical birth of the notion that the veil between worlds thins. I don’t experience a veil anytime, though this final harvest our psyche seems a bit more raw, more receptive to things we would otherwise filter out.
The darkest time of the year, the Dead Time brought the depths of winter, from which there was no assurance of spring. Not only was physical survival of the dark winter a challenge, it also tested sanity and stamina. Worry that there wouldn’t be enough to get to spring pervaded life, thus, spiritual observation.
We don’t approach Samhain or The Dead Time the same our ancestors. We don’t generally live in fear that the light won’t return (although it’s something to think about), that we won’t be fed, or that we won’t have the opportunity to manifest our desires. We do however, acknowledge Seasonal Affective Disorder, a cyclic form of depression that many experience in winter, while other socially and economically beleaguered spirits cope with the holiday blues. In light of these modern trends, The Dead Time is still a naturally provocative passage.
As time, itself, seems to suspend between Samhain and Winter Solstice, giving us natural pause to hibernate and reflect on what we’re finished with and can leave behind, what we most want to carry forward and grow, we can still experience death and rebirth as our elders did. Hold these observations in mind as you approach the next waning of the sun and the procession to the Dead Time. Enjoy the solitude of shadow, and know the light will soon warm!

Samhain Sentiments – Compassionate Work with the Dead

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellFor several years I’ve made effort to talk openly paranormal experiences from the perspective of someone who views them not as Nature’s side shows or intrusive investigation into the spirit world, rather as an honest look into times that the unseen pokes back in startling ways. Ultimately, creepy experiences are still about spiritual imbalance and restoring balance where possible, and where wanted.

It’s that last bit that gets many psychics and intuitives who work with the dead, discarnate souls, and general bump-in-the-nightness into personal trouble. Many contemporary empaths bring to their work a good/evil dichotomy that implies where imbalance is observed, balance/healing must be done. My experience has been more along the lines of open dialogue, which implies listening to the distressed being’s story, as well as compassionate companionship in facilitating them to what they need. That may be total release, to move on to their next destiny. It may be a kind gesture that affirms them in some way. It may be realization that the dynamic is note mine to affect at the time.

Ultimately, my experience has been that healing can’t be forced on beings in the unseen, any more than it can be forced on those of us in the formed realm. That bit of insight, along with a few others came a a few years ago, in a blog post called, Six Things the Dead Want Us to Know About Life.