The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Lao Tzu (604-531 B.C.), philosopher, author of the Tao Te Ching
Samhain approaches. It's an ancient holiday, officially beginning at sunset on October 31.* Lasting three days, Samhain marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the "dark half" of the year. According to Celtic mythology, it is a time of enchantment, a time when both mortal and immortal can pass back and forth between this world and the Otherworld. Like many of the Celtic holidays, Samhain aligns exactly with a Christian observance -- All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day (October 31- November 2).
Samhain marks the time of year when the ancient Celts began their storytelling cycles, gathered as a community around the winter fires. This cycle continued throughout the "dark half" of the year, until Beltane, May 1, when the warm weather and agricultural duties required full attention.
Recognizing the approach of the storytelling season, I have put together a narrative cycle of my own, framing it inside the Ten Oxherding pictures. What I particularly like about this series is how the path to enlightenment concludes by returning us to the world and the human experience. The series reflects precepts of Zen meditation, a Japanese tradition of Buddhism (Mahayana) that emphasizes a combined spiritual practice of meditation and intuition. In other words, in order to truly understand these images, we must reflect and intuit their meaning.
The writing that accompanies these illustrations incorporates ideas from this web site. In that way, this particularly telling of the Ten Oxherding pictures explores the idea of a living myth. And if you take time to reflect and intuit, you might discover more than the writing itself. You might find some new aspect of yourself and your own personal myth.
*Samhain celebrations traditionally coincide with All Hallow's Eve (Halloween, October 31). However, Samhain is a cross-quarter day, meaning the actual date lies at the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Varying from year to year, in 2013 the date is November 7.