On 23rd October we will celebrate both Lunar Samhain and a partial solar eclipse in Scorpio.  Scorpio is the zodiac sign that encapsulates some of the cailleach, or hag's, qualities.  Scorpio not only understands shadows, but often prefers shade. Scorpio has a fondness for the occult, deep psychology, sex. The eighth house in a horoscope is ruled by Scorpio, the eighth sign, and is often referred to as the house of sex, regeneration and death. Loss, grief, transformation, these are Scorpio themes.  Like the snake that swallows its tail, Scorpio knows how to shed its skin, reinvent itself and reach for infinity.  This is also the Cailleach's tale: wisdom/dementia, destruction/rebuilding, beauty/horror, gain/loss, giving/receiving. She is the polarity and the third way.

Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic winter season. After a prolonged warm and summery Equinox, the wind is blustery, stripping all the crimson Virgina creeper from our house's southwest wall.  The hag is speaking. She has arrived. We scurry to light the fire during the day to ward off the dampness; the rain hurls itself off the Atlantic. There was thunder at dawn this morning. The Cailleach has come.

Solar eclipses always herald change, but what they take with one hand they give with the other. With the Cailleach you will need to give Her something before she will reciprocate with Her gift.  This is very like the reciprocity that I associate as fairy morality.  Offer them something shiny or precious and they will give you something special in return.  Let go of your anger, shame or other destructive behavior at Samhain; these are, after all, 'precious' attachments of ours so are suitable offerings to the Cailleach.  The Cailleach will support you and repay you threefold; my good friend had his final drink on Halloween night in 2009.  It had taken him nearly a year to make his long goodbye to alcohol, but that Shadow embrace was what could be described as a shamanic purging. He remains sober and also has no desire for alcohol.

We will also inevitably grieve for those who don't make the transition into transformation. Not everyone can face becoming a phoenix rising from ashes.  Not everyone can face the fear and horror and kiss their Hag. There is no blame attached to this. Love them and maintain safe boundaries for yourself and for them as much as is practicable. Mourn for them but also know you cannot do their reshaping; that is their spiritual work. Bear witness to their Hag, be respectful, show courage in its face but do not flinch. The Cailleach has no truck with flinching.

Samhain Nighthawk

The owl needs the mouse.

So too does the mouse need owl.

The owl is not the enemy of mouse.

Owl and mouse dance over the midnight landscape,

are each others destiny, culminating

in a bleak but righteous beauty.

Just as clouds obliterate

the moon in its longing for earth,

or the sun shielding it at eclipse.

Just as the Cailleach sets us free.

Her razor winds blow us to bits.

She loves us enough

to remake us out of all

our unloved pieces into

one new beloved whole.