The High Days: Samhain

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Samhain is the witches spiritual New Year. This time of the year is typically at the end of the growing and harvesting season and a time when we go into the darker half of the year; shorter days and longer nights. It is an in-between time, half way between Summer and Winter. Being that the harvest times were over, livestock would often be killed and food supplies were prepped for the upcoming Winter.

This is also a time of the year when the veil between the world of the living and the world of spirit is thinner. It is said that at this time, the dead can walk amongst us living. Bonfires were lit to scare off evil spirits and lights were put in windows to guide ancestral spirits home. Samhain is the perfect time to connect with those who have past on: set up an ancestral altar in honor of the dead or leave food and drink out for the dead. This is also a great time to do any divination work and to communicate with spirits.

Samhain is also a time of reflection and spiritual renewal. Take some time to reflect over the previous year and all that you have accomplished. Then spend time reflecting on what you would like to achieve in the months to come.

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The Nine Virtues: Fertility

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Being a gay man, I don’t think of fertility in the terms of reproduction, as I may never have children. Instead to me it relates more to being creative. Fertility to me is giving birth to ideas, nurturing them and watching them grow. It is creativity. It is creation.

Fertility, to me, is also this idea of abundance. Fertile earth, a fertile mind, etc. that are abundant in creativity. Allowing us to give brith to something, even if it is an abstract concept. We must create the perfect space for ideas, projects, etc. to be born and allowed to grow. Not only for ourselves but others as well. Supporting their abilities to grow. Just as we nurture say a plant, we must nurture the goodness in ourselves and others.

The Nine Virtues: Moderation

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Moderation is definitely the one Virtue that I struggle with the most. As a teen and well into my 30s I struggled with an eating disorder and a drug addiction. In one area I didn’t do enough to nourish my body and in the other I was doing too much of something that I didn’t need at all. Neither were the right thing for me or my body.

Finally, now through meditation and my spiritual path I have found ways to nourish my body in healthy ways. It is always a constant struggle to do both enough without overdoing it. I am now in a place, where through self control, I have been able to find a healthy balance in my life. It is a path that I must walk everyday to find that balance.

The Nine Virtues: Hospitality

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Hospitality relates to how we are treated by others when in their space or home, as well as how we act as their guest. We hope that as a host we can make our guests feel at home and to be most comfortable. As a guest we hope that we make our stay an easy one for our hosts.

When I think in terms of hospitality I immediately think about respect. Sadly, I think respect is something we are losing a lot in today’s society. I try my hardest to be respectful of those around me who I come into contact with on a daily basis. Saying “Hello” and smiling as we pass. Holding doors for others. Saying “Thank you” and wishing them well as we part ways.

Respect for ourselves and others is the perfect way to be the most gracious guest and host in any situation.

The Nine Virtues: Perseverance

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We can often face setbacks or failures, but in order to grow and learn, we must continue to try and try again. This is perseverance.  Even in the face of adversity or times where we feel we can not go on. This is the time, more than ever, that we must not give up. We must keep working towards our goals.

I have a friend who is a life coach who says that motivation is a crock. That most people do not achieve their goals because they are too busy waiting to be motivated to do so. We must go out and create and achieve what we want, through hard work, despite maybe not being motivated to do so. That is true perseverance. Never giving up, and finding the means to carry on.

 

The Nine Virtues: Integrity

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“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one else is watching” – C.S. Lewis

I’ve always loved this quote because to me it really sums up what Integrity is about. It is being true to ourselves and doing what is right, even if no one sees us do it. First and foremost we must honor what we think is right and true. We must be true to ourselves and others.

We must keep our word to our ourselves and to others. We must be able to stand up for what we believe and do what is right, even if no one is looking. We have to honor and respect ourselves and those in our lives. Do what you say. We must also manage our behavior and actions to stay true to our word. Keep your promises and do what is right in all circumstances.

The Nine Virtues: Courage

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For me, courage has always about being true to myself, and standing up for what I know to be right, even if it’s not the popular opinion. Several times in my life I have had to go against the grain of society’s expectations or what my family thought best for me. I knew I had to have courage to move forward in what I wanted to do in my life, in order to be my most authentic self.

Courage is the ability to do what needs to be done, even in the face of fear, pain, or grief. Courage can help us to grow and to give. I think of courage has a practice as well, everyday we must have to courage to stand up for our beliefs and what we think is right or wrong. Have the courage to face and manage your fears so you are able to do the right thing.

The Nine Virtues: Vision

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The ADF defines Vision as our “place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present and future.”

In order to see where we are going, we must also honor where we have been and where we are currently. I see the virtue of Vision relating to how we use our past to create a path towards our future. Learning from our mistakes etc.

I also think in terms of insight and intuition when thinking about Vision. The messages and insight we may receive from the Divine, guides, etc. How we interpret and follow the messages can define where we are on our path.

I am a huge fan of Vision Boards, and I always have at least one up at any given time. The images I put on my vision board help keep me directed towards the path I’m working on. It gives me a goal and purpose to work towards. Having vision means to know where we are in relation to the cosmos, and what direction we are heading in.

The Nine Virtues: Piety

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The virtue of Piety is related to our devotion to our spiritual practice. I think of Piety in terms of action, not just words. We must be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. We must honor the Divine in every little way we can throughout our days.

In action we must honor the Gods and Goddesses, our ancestors, the nature around us, observe the High Days and the Wheel of the Year, and honor the rites and rituals of our path. We can work on our spiritual practice through devotion, connecting to the Divine, meditation, continuing our studies of our path, journaling and more. Piety about is about real devotion to our spiritual practice.

But these practices must not merely be something that we do, but something that we incorporate into our lives. They are a means to further develop our devotion to the Divine and to a strengthening of our spiritual path. And these practices must be a consistent practice.

The Nine Virtues: Wisdom

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Wisdom is probably one of the Nine Virtues that I relate to the most strongly. In situations where I seek wisdom I often think of my grandmother, who was one of the wisest people I knew. I can still, to this day, hear certain words she would say. These always lead me in the right direction in any situation. For instance, if I’m angered and taking it out on someone else I hear her say “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar”.

I have always first and foremost considered myself a student of the world. A seeker of Knowledge. To me Wisdom is a collection of our own personal experiences and knowledge as well as those we take on from other’s around us that we tend to agree with.  It is also our sense of common sense, intuit, insight and the ability to know what it is right and wrong (discernment).

Hopefully, our wisdom leads on the right path. Even if we stray, we can learn more knowledge, so that we can continue to grow. I think Wisdom is an every changing idea as our life experiences continue to grow and change.