During these last two weeks, we have been marking the change in the year that is often referred to as Samhain. This is the ancient Celtic name for a celebration that happens throughout the world, with many names: Hallowe’en, Dia de los Muertos, All Saints Day. This is the time when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead, between the visible and the invisible, between the humans and the fairies and spirits, is thin. At this time, we can reflect on the past, the present and the future, on those who had come before us, and on those who will come after. It is in essence a celebration for giving gratitude and appreciation to the ancestors. Samhain occurs at the time of the last harvests before winter, and it prompts us to express gratitude to Nature. The act of working together on the land also serves to strengthen the bonds within a community, and the celebration of Samhain helps us to acknowledge and appreciate each other.

On October 27th we harvested the blue corn that we had planted 6 months earlier, to the day. We joined as one to pluck the cobs, with immense gratitude to those who had provided the watering and weeding, and to the land which gives so much. The Hopi say that the blue corn holds the teachings, which means that the process of planting, tending to, harvesting and eating the corn keeps us in alignment with the cycles of Nature. Now we are honouring this knowledge and the ancestors, to remember and acknowledge that they continue to walk among us, live together with us.

A week later, on November 5th, we gathered as a group again to harvest our very beloved chestnuts, in the beautiful golden grounds of the chestnut plantation, on the edge of the Forest. We spent the day outside, in the warm Autumn sun, opening ouriços (the hedgehogs or urchins that encapsule the chestnut) and taking out that amazingly nutritious and tasty fruit. We shared lunch together outside, in a delicious soup picnic. Working together as a team, we all felt connected, to each other and to the field and the trees. Over lunch we reflected on how, over the years, we have given these trees our love and attention, and, at harvest time, we felt their gift in exchange.

Whilst working in the harvest, we began to focus our intention – our personal meditation, you could say – for the ceremony the next day, on Saturday Nov 6th. We had harvested together, now it was time to celebrate together! This celebration happened in the Medicine Wheel, a magical place on the terraces, above the old manor house, soon-to-be Nature Spa. In that location, there is a stone amphitheatre, constructed many generations ago. And within that held space is our medicine wheel, a circle of stones representing the milestones of the year.

Each of us had a chosen task. The fire keepers started early that morning, collecting wood for the winter, and for the sacred fire of the ceremony. We all prepared food and drinks for the feast that would follow. We gathered as a group, and walked up the hillside, and through the terraces, to the Medicine Wheel. We took our time to look around, hear around, feel around. We noticed the colour, flowers, fruits, animals, and witnessed again the heritage of the ancestors in this land.

We all gathered elements for adorning the Medicine Wheel – the ritual space. The entrance archway and the Samhain stone became covered in olive branches, ivy, hawthorn berries, wildflowers, bamboo, oranges, apples, figs, chestnuts, mushrooms.

We entered the Medicine Wheel through the decorated archway, clockwise, in the direction of the year. We joined together in a circle and the firekeepers lit a warm and strong sacred fire. We invited into the circle those who were not there present but whom we wanted to have close, so we called them by name. In this circle of trust, with no judgement and deep listening, we each shared where we were in this moment, how we felt, and our intentions on how to move forward in our lives. That involved letting go of some things from the past to make space for what we are creating in our lives. Those things that we let go off, we offered to the fire. Each one of us shared, listened and encouraged the others.

When we left the circle, again progressing in a clockwise direction, we felt lighter, happy and united as a group. We walked back to the house with smiles and hugs. We finished cooking a feast made of chestnuts, pumpkins, quinces, cheese, bread and wine, and we ate with delight. We even sang and played instruments that hadn’t been played in years! We left for home late in the night, under a sky full of very bright stars.

Even though what we did together was a ceremony, with ritual, in the end it felt very normal. We were together, really present with each other, we walked up the beautiful hill through the terraces, picked amazing flowers and fruits, made a warm fire, shared our honest feelings and intentions, and then made delicious food and ate it together in celebration. These are all daily things, which are not necessarily special or extraordinary. But it turns out that they were, because we did them with our hearts open, in the spirit of appreciation, and with a set intention.

I felt honoured to have an important task on my first celebration. It as a journey over the days before, to embrace and learn to control fire, something that was alien to me.

I felt the need to document the preparation, but the lack of pictures of the ceremony itself is proof of the emotional involvement of all of us. Of being fully in a place and of active participation. And having the personal testimonies of the people in the circle made me feel closer to them.


It is Samhain
The darkness calls
We prepare our Selves
To leave the everyday
And cross the threshold
To meet the ancestors

It is Samhain
The darkness calls
Surrounded by Autumn’s grace
We ascend one hundred steps
And navigate an ancient pathway
United in a song of Peace

It is Samhain
The darkness calls
Following our inner compass
We each gather a token
A symbol of our transformation
To offer as a gift

It is Samhain
The darkness calls
We slip through the portal
Into the ancestors embrace
And share the great mystery
Around the sacred hearth

It is Samhain
The darkness calls
In our laughter and our grief
We each hold a place in the circle
Everything changes
We are One.

It is Samhain
The darkness calls.


Now during Samhain I acknowledged that Beltane was not an isolated ceremony. The promises that I made then have been kept since then and achieved in a way. Sharing those promises made me keep the intention to fulfil them. So while the intentions from Beltane are still going on, new ones arouse and are also to be kept, having support and trust from the circle of people.


It was a sacred communion, it felt like opening a door and stepping through, and I was able to give myself a beautiful gift. It would not have been possible with such a profoundness if it had not been in this circle. I’m grateful for that. Feeling light and grateful. It was a big release as I was letting go of something in the fire. Also, when people talk from the heart, it touches on everyone, if you really listen.


Light. Amazing. Relief.


It was a very meaningful moment, that I will keep in my memory as a milestone for myself and for the future.


During Samhain, I felt very close to the other worlds, the forest world, and my friends and family who have passed to the other world.


I was very moved by the sharings that happened in the circle, especially because we had several generations represented. It felt like a timeless moment, that could have happened at any time of human history. And it’s beautiful to know that, no matter our age, we are still going through the cycles, and living endless stories that everyone else goes and has gone through. I was very grateful particularly for the men, who shared vulnerable testimonies in our circle, with no shame, with trust, showing that this is possible for everyone.