Today is Samhain, another of the year’s cross-quarter days, at the midpoint between autumn equinox and winter solstice. It's another ancient festival marking the beginning of winter and descent into the dark months; the end of the harvest season and this year’s growth cycle, when herdsmen brought livestock down from their summer pastures and into barns for the coldest part of the year. Samhain honours and celebrates this descent into darkness, welcoming the necessary season of death and composting that makes space for rebirth. Now of course celebrated as Halloween, and proximate to All Souls Day and Day of the Dead, Samhain is an invitation to reflect on death and dying, to embrace the darkness from which all light emerges, and to honour our ancestry.
The beginning of this dark phase of the year also invites us to let go and clear out what is no longer wanted or needed, so that the winter can offer space for reflection and peace, and make way for renewal in the next cycle. We can enter the fertile void: a liminal place in which we can wonder, enquire and feel but don’t yet need to make sense; a space in which seeds of new ideas can emerge but lie dormant, nourished in the dark… (the fertile void is an important concept and phase of our journeys too).
In this spirit we have some audio reflections from Gemma to share with you, some updates from recent collaborations, and some glimmers of hope and inspiration below. We’ll be back in your inbox for the final time this year at winter solstice.
Til then, with love and hope,
Iris, Gemma, Hadeel, Jo and Lily
Surrounded by Samhain’s autumn leaves, Gemma recorded some reflectionson the unseasonable warmth of this autumn, her recent conversations with leading thinkers, makers and doers across different sectors, and what we can do to restore our lost connections.
A number of our other audio encounters explore themes relevant to Samhain and the fertile void – including those from grief tender Sophy Banks, healing-centred educator Dr Angel Acosta, and funeral director Poppy Mardall. Explore the growing constellation of encounters at https://newconstellations.co/listen/ or wherever you listen to podcasts (and we always love hearing your thoughts on them).
We are just back from spending a week with the incredible2022 Yale World Fellows, where we ran a powerful journey in collaboration with Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir (who previously recorded this beautiful encounter). This was the first time we have blended the journey methodology with Hrund’s work on how honing our intuition can help us navigate times of uncertainty. It’s also the first time we’ve run the journey for such a global group – from 16 countries, across every continent – and the richness of the wisdom, the variety and depth of examples and the range of perspectives and approaches that the Fellows drew on was stunning.
Among the extraordinary autumn colours of Sheffield Massachusetts, we explored the reality of our present moment, what’s obsolete in our current systems that we need to turn away from, how to connect with our intuition or InnSæi to spot the glimmers of the future we want to build and the values that underpin them. We supported each fellow to map their own set of stars or principles to help guide them through transformation towards futures of human and planetary flourishing.
We ran this in partnership with Emma Sky, Director of the International Leadership Centre which was founded earlier this year to support innovative, effective and adaptive leaders to address the most acute and complex challenges facing the world. Applications and nominations are currently open for the next cohort of World Fellows – the team is looking for exceptional leaders from non-elite backgrounds so please help spread the word. You can hear Emma discuss ‘The End of the End of History’ and hear other World Fellows on their podcast too.
What would a new economy that serves the future be, look and feel like? Who must be part of this new economy, and of making it happen? Last month, the funder collaborative Partners for a New Economy hosted a gathering in Cambridge, bringing together 90 thinkers, funders and change-makers working in myriad ways across different places and systems to transform our economies. We were there leading a session and created this audio encounterwith some of the participants, exploring their dreams for a new economy that would allow all people and nature to flourish, and how we might start building it.
We have a strange relationship in Western culture with death and grief: too often shutting it away despite the fact it touches all of us. We have seen how exploring our relationship with loss can be a powerful route to hope and possibility, and with Samhain an invitation to reflect on and lean into this, here are a few tools and resources we have found valuable.