The holy day of Samhain is, in the Celtic tradition, the first day of winter: a time of sacrifice, divination for the New Year, communion with the dead, of endings and rest. On this single night (Oct. 31), the world of spirits, ancestors and mortals might meet. Within the mythic cycle of the Goddess as Crone, she deepens into herself and enters the dreamtime, the place between the worlds where past, present, and future exist simultaneously. The season invites you to enter a place of stillness and simply be where you are: not moving forward or backward but utterly present, suspended in the space between past and future. It is here that you may hear her voice in the crackling fire, rain and wind…Review the year that has passed with introspection and retrospection. Commune with your ancestors and honor your beloved dead…What do you leave behind in the year that has passed, and what do you wish to take with you? How will you prepare to listen to the Old Wise One within? –Ruth Barrett, Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries
During this season, the veil is said to thin between this world and the next. As we came together to discuss and write about the traditions of Samhain, Halloween, and Dia de Los Muertos, the veil between all of us thinned. We wrote verbal altars to those who have passed and it struck a chord in all of us. The intensity of what rose in our feelings was reflected in the written work and strengthened our circle.
In the writings below, you will see the power in what was written and join the circle with us.
I’m not ready for an altar. You twitched the veil and let me glimpse the other side. A resurrection of smoke, a liquid pooling of silk, they sway in this impossible breeze, flutter, billow…what emerges? Is that your hand, or the hand of an incomprehensibly foreign stranger to these shores, a Neverwas, a Neverborn? Should death lie between us forever, a charm too mighty to cross with any leap, too far for you to come back to me, or does a bridge exist on this one day, a spider’s thread, just strong enough to bear your thistledown soul? Is that you – can I feel you with me? Is that hand yours, a beacon in my long darkness, or is that clutching grasp meant to steal what little is left of my soul, to drag me down to the hell others have long since wished me to? What lies beyond? Those who picture blessing and angels offer none to me, not even mine. The veil sways, beckoning me closer. Can I hear your voice if I press just my ear against it? Dare I chance it?
I sit back, away, and I sigh. I’ll let the endless days pass. I’ll wait. I’ll sit through all the nights. I’ll wait. I’ll watch the cycle of the seasons and age writing its tale across my skin. I’ll wait. I’ll wait to see you, touch you, hear you. You’re safe where you are and I have many dangerous roads to walk and I must never shirk my duty. Watch me, watch me, remember what you see. I expect to hear all about it when next we meet. I’ll hear your merry laugh, you’ll pat my cheek and say, “You sure were silly, but you made it through that day.”
THE LOVE OF HONOR
Flowers, feast, love, and skulls,
all of which come alive
to honor all who have been taken from our lives.
How the flowers and gifts lie upon the graves,
the rituals and spells which bring all
back to our lives for these few special days.
Parties, parades, flowers, and graves: this
is how we honor these special days.
There is another kind of veil
for girls like me to fret upon—
how tight the weave? How long cascading?
And does this must light enunciate
the pores I pore over. Photosynthesizing
in my front yard all summer long and into fall.
I can’t manage the care and keeping
of men anymore—but plants? The perfect
bridegroom to hinge my plans upon.
A future to neatly map and believe in.
No abandoned dishes in the sink,
no unequal roommate in domestic dealings.
Unseal a vision of beauty emblazoned on a seed packet,
steal little vows away in shallow dirt graves,
and come 54 or 62 or 86 days later, you’ll pick
what they promised. No gambling
on the shaky honesty of an online profile—
digital glamour shots never germinate
into a grown thing of beauty. I’ll take the shade
thrown by a trellis of snap peas to the snarky kind
doled out for men lacking the growth
shown by my green babes. In pots, in planters,
in raised beds where I can still savor the sight
of that impressive rise. My family is the opposite
of toxic, purifying the air and asking so little.
For a drink, for a sunny spot, for my admiring eyes
to affirm in sickness, in health, I take you. I do.
HELLO FATHER FROM THE OTHER SIDE
taken from me too soon,
death by suicide,
I’ve missed him every day.
Every day since he left me,
I still mourn the man that raised me,
even seven years later.
Every year around the time,
the memories flood my mind,
memories of the small girl I once was,
being lifted into the air by the only man
that mattered, green eyes so happy.
Little giggles escaping through those little teeth,
eating claims or watching Dan Earnhardt,
his final race, or going to work
every day with my daddy,
watching Dukes of Hazard, riding
on four wheelers or snowmobiles
in the winter. I was spoiled,
in the years that followed I grew.
He gave me a car for my 16th birthday,
also a sweet sixteen birthday party.
Everything was fine ‘til I turned nineteen
when Daddy didn’t approve of my dating a black man.
Color didn’t matter to me.
He was the best father in the world.
I miss him dearly,
sadness fills me this time of year
as I remember he won’t be there
to walk me down the aisle,
or see his grandchild, or see
my 26-year-old, beautiful face.
Nothing, no more memories to make.
I wish he was still here with me,
but I can’t change anything
so I hope and pray he is in a better place!
Knowing that I still love him,
that god is with him!