“Samhain- A Celtic Winter Song”


“Dawn Mallards”, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels

I love the Celtic Seasons and the mystical qualities that go with them.  After decades of struggling with the major religions, feeling beaten down by Christianity and Judaism in oppressive measures in the hands of oppressive people,  coming to Celtic Spirituality was coming home.  There was something about this devotional that fit with so much of my own questing nature. It was part of the spiritual practice that reflected an earlier, primal animistic spirituality and in a real sense, also reflected that which I had been finding in my own study of Shinto.  I felt no dogmatic pressure and found a particular peace.

There is a small book I find most helpful in a daily way:  Caitlin Matthews’ “Celtic Devotional”. A few words from this book on Samhain (Sow-when)

“The winter quarter of Samhain brings the gifts of restoration and renewal as the cold weather closes in. The soul is lead to more reflective depths.  It is traditionally associated with the remembrance of the ancestors, with the coming of death and the conception of new life. Samhain corresponds with the period of old age, when wisdom, freedom of spirit and clarity are experienced, a good time to celebrate the lives of wise elders, and those who have brought resolution and peace.”

The season of Samhain is from November 1st to January 31st.

My father, though he has been dead twenty five years this November 5th, is one of those who impacted me with his own freedom of spirit and unflagging courage.  He didn’t live to read this poem, but every line has something of him in it.

Lady Nyo

Dark mysterious season,

when the light doesn’t

quite reach the ground,

the trees shadow puppets

moving against the gray of day.

I think over the past year

praying there has been a

kindling in my soul,

the heart opened, warmed

and the juiciness of life is

more than in the loins–

a stream of forgiveness

slow flowing through the tough fibers

not stopper’d with an underlying


but softened with compassion.

This season of constrictions,

unusual emptiness,

brittle like dried twigs

desiccated by hoar frost

just to be endured.

I wrap myself in wool and

watch the migrations–

first tender song birds which harken

back to summer,

then Sandhill cranes,

legs thin banners

streaming behind white bodies,

lost against a snowy sky.

They lift off to a middling cosmos,

while I, earth-bound,

can only flap the wings of my shawl,

poor plumage for such a flight,

and wonder about my own destination.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010-2014, first published in “White Cranes of Heaven”, published by Lulu.com, 2011

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4 Responses to ““Samhain- A Celtic Winter Song””

  1. czbz Says:

    So beautiful…thank you for this: “can only flap the wings of my shawl, poor plumage for such a flight…”

    You are gifted, Jane…that was amazing.



  2. ladynyo Says:

    Ahhh….shucks. LOL!

    well, CZ, the seasons really impact upon me in many ways, as it does for most of us. I, too, find myself in the kitchen preparing heavier dinners, dishes, pies, because “the season told me to.” LOL!

    Thank you, CZ. I’m trying to write a couple of poems based on the ‘intentions’ of the Celtic Seasons….Samhain has a strong part of contemplation in it….settling down in the dark, the quietude of the season (until the Xmas stuff gets going…..) the thinking of elders who have helped us and guided us and are departed. Samhain is after all, the season of death….a natural order of life…and I think about my beloved 102 year old Aunt Jean who was really the “Better than Good” Mother to me, though I didn’t realize it until I came to some knowledge about narcissism and what it had done to my life.

    So, we gather our wings under ourselves and head into the months ahead. I am so grateful for you, for your wisdom and knowledge and how compassionate a woman you are, CZ. I am honored to have you as friend.

    Love, Jane


  3. TR Says:

    Hi Jane,
    This is beautiful. I have the book on my list to read! xxTR


  4. ladynyo Says:

    You know what, TR? This was an early poem and remains one of my favorite. LOL! Perhaps I have peaked too early in poetry.

    Glad you liked it. Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Love, Jane


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