As one of the cross quarter festivals, Samhain falls during the zodiac sign of Scorpio and indeed some people celebrate astrological Samhain when the Sun is exactly half way through Scorpio, on November 7th this year. Scorpio is the sign of fixed water, intense and passionate. All of the water signs are feelings-driven and sensitive and Scorpio can take this to extremes, carrying us deep into the shadowy realms of the emotions, tuning us in to a deep well of feeling. Scorpio energy is profoundly tuned in to the cycle of life, death and rebirth, our power to transform ourselves and the world around us. This is a sign of willpower, courage and determination, where we learn from deeply felt experience. We cannot transform ourselves simply by reading about it, we need to put the work in, on both the inner and the outer levels. In Scorpio season our intuition and imagination are strong as we turn inwards, learning from the deep instinctive knowledge we carry in our bones.
We connect with our ancestors at this time and Scorpio carries the energies of our emotional inheritances, the patterns handed down to us through our family line. Shifting these can be painful but is powerful work with the potential to liberate our ancestors as well as ourselves. Scorpio is the sign of elimination as well as regeneration and during Scorpio season we can slough off old energies, emotional patterns which no longer serve our growth. Both Samhain and Scorpio urge us to embrace energies of release, to honour the necessity of death, to allow our creative selves a fallow period. Scorpio is the release from form, which we see in the nature around us at Samhain. The trees have, for the most part, shed their leaves, plants wither and die as winter approaches, animals hibernate or retreat to find shelter. But a closer look at the skeletal trees reveals the buds already developing in anticipation of the following spring. This is a season of both creation and destruction and the two are inextricably linked. The Samhain fires were lit for purification, to purge negative energy and leave the way clear for a new beginning and Scorpio partakes of this same dynamic.
At Samhain, the nights are longer than the days and Scorpio energy reminds us that darkness is important, it’s the crucible from which all is born, the source of our creative power. At Samhain, as the Sun travels through Scorpio, we can connect with all of our darknesses - the personal, the natural and the collective. It’s a time of mystery and transformation, of metamorphosis and healing. In the stillness of Samhain night, in the deep waters of Scorpio, we can sit with our darkness, giving our attention to our shadow self, our inner processes. We consider what is reflected in the waters of the unconscious, especially this year with Mercury also retrograde in Scorpio at Samhain. Mercury retrograde in Scorpio brings us an awareness of how our unconscious selves affect our conscious awareness and our everyday lives. Scorpio pulls us deep into the source of our emotional responses, often conditioned from a very young age, and asks us to examine them, to acknowledge their power. In Scorpio season, we are plunging into the still pools and submerged feelings at the heart of ourselves, seeking understanding and buried treasure.
Each sign of the zodiac is ruled by a planet and the modern ruler of Scorpio is Pluto, or Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Pluto, due to his links with the Roman god of wealth Pluton, also rules buried treasure and hidden abundance. In embracing our shadow self, we may also awaken our bright shadow, the luminous parts of ourselves we often give away for fear of not fitting in. Our creativity, our desire and ability to speak out, our most passionate self expression, all of these can be reborn in Scorpio season. This is a deeply liminal time, the pause for breath as the old year recedes and the new awaits birth at the Solstice.
Scorpio energy is linked to gods and goddesses of the underworld, the Dark Mother who rules over
life, death and rebirth. The Babylonian goddess Tiamat, often represented as as dragon, made Scorpion women to guard the passage to the underworld. Tiamat was linked to the primordial ocean, source of all life, the deep waters and powerful tides of Scorpio. The goddess Hekate can also be linked with Scorpio energies, both in her modern guise as the goddess of witchcraft and thresholds and her older form as a version of the Great Mother, ruling birth, death and rebirth. All journeys to the Underworld, right back to Inanna in Sumerian times, are associated with Scorpio energy, as well as the deities encountered there, such as Ereshkigal, sister to Inanna (but quite likely actually a much older deity). We also see the energies of Scorpio in Dark Mother goddesses, the Black Madonna of Christian tradition and the Veiled Isis of Egypt and modern day occultism.
Astrological Magic for Samhain
Scrying and divination
Scorpio energy has a deep rooted urge to know, to penetrate the mystery and discover hidden knowledge. The already thin Samhain veil is thinned even further by Mercury retrograde in Scorpio this year, making it an especially good season for scrying and divination. Many people do a tarot, oracle or rune reading for the coming year at Samhain. Or you can take a more intuitive approach, scrying in the flames or smoke or the Samhain fire or in a bowl of water, allowing images to form and speak to your intuition.
Astral travel, deep meditation and shamanic journeying
Scorpio season is the time for inner travels, for journeying to the Otherworld in our preferred way. Whether you use a drum or drumming recording or a different method of altering your consciousness, the path to the Otherworld is clearer than usual at this liminal time. Travel to seek help, to offer help, or simply to make a connection.
Working with dreams
Our dreams also bring a powerful connection to the Otherworld and keeping a dream journal by writing down what you remember when you wake is a powerful practice. We can also consciously seek to incubate a dream by meditating on a question or issue as we fall asleep, asking our guides that we receive insights in our dreams. Over time we build up a kind of personal library of symbols which allow us to interpret our dreams more easily.
The dark time of the year is the natural time to work with our shadow selves, facing and learning from our fears, investigating our conditioned emotional responses. By journaling or meditating on our shadow we gain self knowledge as well as the power to transform and grow. This can be intense work so keep some clear boundaries in place, casting a protective circle around yourself as you work and making sure to ground yourself with food and drink afterwards.
A Scorpio ritual for release
Cathartic rituals to let go of toxic energy are especially powerful at this time of year. A simple ritual for release allows you to honour everything which has brought you to where you are today, acknowledging its power before letting go of those energies which no longer serve your growth. This ritual can be done any time between Samhain on October 31st and astrological Samhain on November 7th.
Gather some loose incense to burn on charcoal or loose herbs, an unlit candle and a fireproof container.
Extinguish all the lights in the house, open the windows to let the darkness in and simply sit with it. Allow yourself to become comfortable with the lack of light, to see and to feel the beauty in the darkness.
Holding your herbs or incense in your hand, summon all those energies from the year that you are ready to release – stagnation, sorrow, pain, negativity. Pour them into your herbs, noticing that without the emotional impact you attach to them, they are simply energy.
When you are ready, light a candle and use it to light your charcoal or fire, throwing the herbs into the flames, allowing the energy to transform and be released.
Re-light all your candles from the flames and turn your awareness towards the light and fire of Sagittarius, which will come in due time.
Lys is a pagan astrologer and tarot reader based in London, you can find her on Instagram @wildstarlys or on her website