Samhain can be an intense experience for many. Whether you use this time to connect with ancestors, reflect on the year so far, or it’s your New Year’s Eve or day, it’s a huge event in many Pagan lives. There are celebrations, feasts, rituals, and, hopefully, much merriment! The downside of this is that a few days into November, you might suddenly find yourself feeling a little down. November doesn’t have too many major festivities in it, and (in the UK) it tends to be a cold, brittle month with little to look forward to.
Even if Samhain is not a part of your particular spiritual practice, you might find November a bit of a void within the year, where it’s more difficult to connect and find solace in your faith or spirituality. If that’s not the case, fantastic, and please do share with us how you stay connected with your path all year as we love to share the positivity! If, however, you find yourself caught between the autumnal majesty of October and the oncoming festivities of December with a feeling of discomfort or emptiness, then do read on.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that feelings of disconnection or sadness are totally normal at this time of year. Please note: If you are feeling unusually down or having intrusive thoughts, please speak to your doctor or reach out for help via another channel as your mental health is vital and should not be ignored. For a general feeling of post-festivity or pre-festivity grumpiness though, it can simply be a combination of the following:
- It feels like there’s nothing to look forward to
- A huge build up to Samhain which was great, but now you feel deflated
- You lavished your deities in attention and now wonder what’s right to do
- Conversely, you may worry you didn’t pay your deities/spirits enough attention
- You have a ton of stuff to do before the Winter Solstice or Yuletide and it’s stressing you out
- You see other folks already creating Pinterest-worthy crafts and you wonder where to find the time
- This time of year is always more depressing in our climate, with potentially one in three people suffering symptoms of seasonal adjustment disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is more prevalent in the darker months.
Give Yourself a Break
There’s no rule that says you have to be “on it” as a Spiritual Pagan TM 24/7. If you are run down, washed out, bushed, done in – whatever you’re feeling, your deities will understand. You are not going to be punished for taking time to look after yourself.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Scrolling through social media might show you reams of folks already weaving holly into ivy and discussing the finer points of fresh versus synthetic mistletoe. You might see folks with pictures of full stacks of presents, wrapped, tagged, and ready to go. My folks, please let go of any need to “Keep up with the neighbours” and simply do what works for you. You might buy all your presents one day before you’re due to give them, or on that day, and you know what? That’s totally fine. You might not even do presents within your family or traditions. That’s cool too. Don’t let your personal preferences be trampled by the expectations set by the media, social and otherwise.
Go Back to Basics
If you genuinely worry that you’re going to lose your connection with your spirituality, take it all the way back to basics. Think about how you first got in contact with your chosen deities or path. What were the first simple steps? Here are a few ideas that you can do throughout November, even if it’s only once, to remind yourself of your path and why it’s important to you.
- If you’re able to, go outside and observe the season. Feel the cold prickle your skin. Breathe the damp or frigid air. Notice the trees. Which ones are bare? Which live on in lush green? Which are clinging to the last of their autumn leaves?
- Notice the creatures that persist through winter. Even from your window, you may be able to spot birds like the robin or the blackbird, plus squirrels and other rodents that root through hard, cold earth or piles of leaves for berries and nuts.
- Feed the birds. Leave food outside – a new trick I just learnt is that rather than throwing the waste fat from a pan away, soak oats in it and leave them out for the birds. They will love this nutritious snack, and you can feel that connection to nature and the creatures we share our cities and villages with.
- Light a candle. Simply sit with it. Let your thoughts ramble by, but don’t cling to any of them. Let them pass, like clouds. Be peaceful, even if only for a minute.
- If you have a tutelary deity that demands regular attention, ensure you have a supply of their favourite offering in stock before winter hits.
- Write their name on a piece of paper, or in a journal. Write it, say it, shut your eyes. Remember what they mean to you and the impact they’ve had in your life. Send your gratitude out into the universe.
- Any time you are happy, write it on a scrap of paper. Pop it in a jar. From time to time, when you are feeling down, take your Happiness Jar and pull out a random scrap of paper to remember a time that made you truly happy. You can even decorate your jar as an extra moment to bring creativity into your November.
- Volunteer with an organisation if you are able to. This can be anything from sitting with someone who needs someone to talk to, to helping out a cause you believe in with their social media presence. There are volunteer positions available for folks of all abilities and backgrounds, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from helping others can actually help deal with our own feelings of low mood or dissatisfaction.
Did any of these ideas resonate with you? Pop over to the Families Group and talk to us about what November means to you this year.
If you are feeling seriously down or your mood or mental health dips alarmingly, please do talk to someone. Here are some resources and you can always talk to your GP in confidence too.
The Samaritans offer confidential support for anyone experiencing despair or distress. Call 116123 any time of day or night, or visit www.samaritans.org.uk
PAPYRUS is a young suicide prevention society. Call 08000684141 Monday to Friday, open 10am to 5pm, then 7pm to 10pm. Weekends, open 2pm to 5pm.
CALM, the campaign against living miserably, for men aged 15 to 35. Call 0800585858 5pm to midnight or visit www.thecalmzone.net
All images via Unsplash