The medicine woman's role is often that of gatekeeper to the realm between life and death. Because of this, the observance of Samhain on the wheel of the year affords the medicine woman a place of honor, for her role is one of soul-full harvesting before a time of rest.
In olden days, the fields lay fallow as the herbs and wild crafted plants dried from broomsticks tied to the rafters. Here, a 120 year old image of Baba Yaga depicts her, staff in hand, magical-medicinal mushrooms at her feet, surrounded by the cycle of death and everlasting life. The last busy days of harvest wane with the October moon. The cycle of life slows down, and priorities change. As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, the lighting of candles, provisions are stored, and a fire in the hearth mark the process of readying for winter.
At this time, the medicine woman, too, turns her attention inward. Meditations, trance, long nights of dreaming and prophecy stir the cauldron of the night. She stitches stories and herbs into poppets to assist loved ones in sleep. For the adept, deep mysteries of Samhain offer a rare opportunity to step between the worlds and speak directly with otherworldly guides, spirits or the ancestors, and honor them through remembrance in the form of an altar or offering. The medicine woman's endeavors give comfort to those who recognize the growing darkness.
The Veil between the worlds is thin
Our hearts reach cross the sea of time
To bring our loved ones in
Samhain, Samhain we honor all our kin
We honor those whove gone before
As the Great Wheel turns again
A Samhain Song, by Lisa Thiel
The Crone wisdom of Samhain symbolizes a slowing down which accompanies the aging process of all things. Those who knock at the medicine woman's door may ask questions related to managing the psycho-somatic symptoms of cyclical changes like menopause, aging, the end of relationships, a change of jobs, or a move. The person turns inward; there may be a need to acknowledge these closures, and regroup, recharge energetically, contemplate and plan future actions. Still others may seek physical or psychic protection or face their own mortality.
Let it lie,, she might say. Now is a time to rest before rebirth. Go within to plant the seeds of regeneration. Ask Spirit or the Dark Mother for support, but release attachment to specific outcomes and allow what comes to come.
Power your Samhain ritual and honor the Celtic New Year, the archetype of the Crone as medicine woman, or the ancestral realm. Allow the colors of deep purple, midnight blue, or black to reflect the essence of the Samhain night. Work with Samhain essential oil combinations or flower essences, such as blackthorne.
In your rituals, you may choose to:
Work with the waning moon, Sheila-Na-Gig, and/or the symbolism of the Crone's scythe
Add bowls of autumn leaves, cones or nuts to your ancestor altar
Use winter squash and pumpkins as food or ornament wherever you please
Turn gourds into water dippers, rattles or martin houses marked with your personal symbols for power
Practice candle magic, working with meditation and trance states to tap your intuition
Sew poppets stuffed with magical dream time herbs such as mug-wort or lavender
Open to receive explicit insights from the ancestral or spirit realms
Allow the chaos of the Samhain revelry to plant the seeds of regeneration
Stand against injustice or harassment, or seek retribution in both realms
Research and reclaim the medicine woman's depiction as Witch, Crone or Hag
Ultimately, Samhain is a powerful cauldron for explicit, intentional change, personified by the medicine woman's Crone aspect. Honor the ancestors as thyself, seek to comfort in these times, and treat relationships in both the spiritual and materials realms with great respect and care.