When I was younger Halloween was my favourite holiday of the year. It was one that we celebrated fully. We carved pumpkins. We dressed up. We trick or treated with friends. And what I loved most was seeing the leaves of the trees change colour.
There is none of that here in the south of Italy and it is one of the things I miss most. Not celebrating Halloween per se, but celebrating the changes in the seasons and experiencing those changes as part of everyday life.
For me, October 31st marks the beginning of a new seasonal year. It’s a time of transitioning between the abundance of summer to the scarcity of winter. And for those of us guided by the changes in the season, this is an important time of intentionally weighing what’s worth keeping and what’s not to make room for new growth.
This is never easy.
As I looked at the packed suitcases ready and waiting, I’m reminded that we are still not quite sure where we are going yet. We’re still weighing out our options. At the same time we reflect on all that we’ve accomplished in the past year to give ourselves courage. Embracing the unknown does have it’s advantages but that doesn’t make it any easier.
I think the hardest part is letting go of the fear. And when I find myself needing a bit more courage to let go of the things I know I should, I reflect on a story that is close to my heart – the descent of Inanna.
And it goes something like this…
From the great above, a young woman places her ear on the great below and she becomes curious. She then makes her way to the gate of the underworld and asks to be let in.
But the only way that she can pass the seven levels of the underworld is by giving up one aspect of her being at each gate.
At the first gate, she gives up her crown (which represents her earthly identity).
At the second gate, she gives up her scepter of lapis lazuli (which represents her mental power).
At the third gate, she gives up her necklace (which represents her will).
At the fourth gate, she gives up her breastplate of sparkling stones (which represents the protection and love of her family).
At the fifth gate, she gives up her girdle (which represents her personal power and the letting go of friends). At the seventh gate, she gives up her clothing (which represents her belief system).
She enters the experience of the underworld completely naked in every possible way so that the knowledge she gains can transform her.
In Sumerian mythology, life and death were intertwined like the strands of the rope, two aspects of the whole. And the decent of Inanna represents a dual process of regeneration through letting go. I think that it’s only by having the courage to let go that we rediscover our resilience.
Just like the trees and their leaves in fall.
So what are you willing to let go of in this season?