the thinning veil

Kate Forsyth

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.”



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.

LB Continue reading

calling upon our ancestors

These days some of us celebrate All Saints/Souls Day (Christian holy days), Day of the Dead (Mexican holiday honoring the dead), and Samhain (Celtic holiday marking harvest’s end, when the veil between worlds is rumored to be thin).

Heaven by Ozan Ozan

As a result, it’s an appropriate time to remember our ancestors, those beloved family and friends (and maybe some not so beloved) who have departed from our earthly lives.  Lots of conflicting residual emotions remain as we discovered writing together this week.

Several incarcerated writers recalled lost children, one of whom died in her mother’s arms moments after birth.  Several ‘inside’ women remembered grandparents who had loved them deeply, died too soon, and watch over them now as guardian angels.

Others yearned for relationships with family members they wished they’d known.  We shared a rich evening of calling upon our ancestors:


Hello, I was named after you.  You were my father’s favorite aunt.  I’ve been told I have your spirit and strength.  You were eccentric and maybe a bit strange in your ways, a very unique person.  I thank you for paving the way!  The way you dressed in your jingley bracelets and your vibrant makeup…  You traveled the world and brought back memories to share with anyone who cared to listen.  You, with your long, dark hair and baggie, excessive layered clothes and odd, beautiful scarves, a trait I chose to take up without ever having known you.  Your quips and knowledge, I still hear about.  The way you were shunned and misunderstood by some, but loved and accepted by most.  Thank you for being you and for making it OK to be me.  -LS