Samhain, pronounced sah-win is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. The Celtic roots of Halloween, it is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. To most modern Pagans, while death is still the central theme of the festival this does not mean it is a morbid event. For Pagans, death is not a thing to be feared. Old age is valued for its wisdom and dying is accepted as a part of life as necessary and welcome as birth. While Pagans, like people of other faiths, always honour and show respect for their dead, this is particularly marked at Samhain. Loved ones who have recently died are remembered and their spirits often invited to join the living in the celebratory feast. It is also a time at which those born during the past year are formally welcomed into the community. As well as feasting, Pagans often celebrate Samhain with traditional games such as apple-dooking. Death also symbolises endings and Samhain is therefore not only a time for reflecting on mortality, but also on the passing of relationships, jobs and other significant changes in life. A time for taking stock of the past and coming to terms with it, in order to move on and look forward to the future.
The sentiment behind this Celtic festival shares much with the Chinese Medicine understanding that this is a period of letting go. What can you let go of before we move into Winter? What is weighing you down? What have you no further need for in life?
“Sometimes you can’t have what is in front of you if you are not willing to let go what is behind you”
- James Van Praagh
To celebrate Samhain in Leeds this friday check out the celebration
that will be held in Farsley with the lovely Tanya and Bridget.
Sometimes we are asked whether acupuncture can be used to induce labour. There are treatments that we can do for this that encourage the uterus to start to contract and the cervix to ripen and open. We also include relaxation points as often women under the threat of induction are managing high anxiety levels and may be feeling frightened. However, our preference is to offer women ‘pre-birth’ labour from 37-38 weeks. This is usually 3 acupuncture sessions that occur weekly until due date. This style of treatment is designed to encourage your body to work naturally and the research carried out by the midwife and acupuncturist who developed the protocol suggests that women who have this treatment are much less likely to face medical induction, use far fewer interventions during labour and spend a slightly shorter amount of time in the first stage of labour. It is designed to work with your body and your baby and is a far gentler approach than acupuncture or medical induction.
Many of the women we see have been told that they may be induced as they are ‘higher risk’. This is usually due to the fact that they are over 40 or that the conception was through IVF. There is no reason why an IVF baby is any more at risk than a naturally conceived baby. For first time mothers, facing fear and anxiety about labour and motherhood, it is difficult to question some of the advice they may be receiving from their midwife or consultant. There is an informative article here, written by Sara Wickham, an experienced midwife, exploring the issues of induction.
We often see patients at this time of year who have already succumbed to colds and need to have their immunity increased. We also can predict that we will see some patients in the New Year who will have a few colds and maybe flu, and feel they have some sort of post viral symptoms, which are slow to improve. Often these include low energy and fatigue and lack of concentration and motivation.
The best way to look after yourself is to prevent yourself from picking up colds and flu by building your immunity now. Acupuncture is one great way of doing this. The other way is through diet and nutrition and eating foods that are rich in anti-oxidants and boost your immune system. This article here from the College Of Naturopathic Medicine has some great tips about which foods to build into your daily eating habits now.
As many of you may know, acupuncture is part of the NICE guidelines for the management of migraine. Acupuncture is safe, cost effective and has a strong evidence base for use with migraine. However, it is still difficult for migraine sufferers to get treatment paid for by the NHS. Meanwhile we are told that treatments like botox, are effective in treating migraine.
Colleague and blogger, Mel Hopper Koppelman, writes a fascinating piece here about the politics involved in migraine treatments. Recommended reading for those with migraine and those with an interest in science or the politics of health care.
It’s been a few years since I mentioned this website online. Yesterday I went back into it to check a few things as I had a new male patient with a complicated medical history that I believed had contributed to his low motility. I was reminded of what a fantastic resource this is for men with fertility issues or men trying to conceive. There is very little support around tailored for men and men can feel particularly isolated. The men I see often want to support their partners and put their own feelings about trying to conceive to the background. It is hard for women to talk about fertility. It is almost impossible for men. This website offers clear information relating to fertility and an active online forum where men can ask and answer questions, seek advice and get support. Check it out here.
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