Of course, this year seems a bit oddly stilted to me, in large part due to the ambivalence toward faith I've been having. Samhain, for those who aren't aware of it, is the BIG holiday for a variety of reasons.
Technically, it's the end of the pagan "year". Thus, the day following day (November 1st) is the beginning of a whole new year, at least spiritually. Of course, in my case it's the beginning of my "holiday doldrums" that don't end until the end of the mundane calendar year. More on that dichotomy later.
It symbolizes the end of a cycle, so it's not surprising that Samhain also deals with the end of life. The fact that this was the traditional time for the harvest only reinforces the focus on death -- plants and animals dying literally everywhere. The coming winter adds to the drama -- ironically, if you don't kill enough plants and animals, you may be joining them before the spring.
That's the sort of raging uncertainty that almost demands a spiritual response. In this case, people would turn to those who went before for both a re-assurance that they might make it through the winter... or that there was something to look forward to if you didn't.
In an age where we no longer have to keep the fires burning all winter long, or perish, an age where (at least for the most part) we can avoid starving, it seems strange that there's still such raging uncertainty. For my part there's been this intense schism between my soul and my mind, the feeling that this should just be any other day running headlong into the sense that I must allow myself the introspection necessary to find the strength to survive the next few months, even if we're only talking about the survival of something as intangible as my soul.
That does seem a bit melodramatic and over the top when it's written out like that, but it strikes me as the only honest way of expressing it. Yesterday, I spent a few hours with lovingstones, some precious one-on-one time that we've both been craving. At one point she was massaging my feet as I sank back in the obscenely comfortable "princess bed", the late afternoon sun throwing rainbows on the ceiling and walls thanks to the sun catcher. I was suddenly overcome by this intense sense of fear -- that I've been limping along thanks to a convenient set of miracles, running on energy coming from seemingly no where. I burst into tears and gave that fear a voice. Eileen just listened, and it somehow seemed to help.
But going into tomorrow, and the day after that, and through November, December and into 2004... and beyond... that's going to require faith. If I look back over the last few years, and accept that we've actually managed to keep it together fairly well. Then there's that classic line that they include in all those financial prospectuses: Past performance is not a guarantee of future gains.
Yet, isn't that at the heart of all faith... that not only will it all work out, it'll work out even better than we CAN imagine?
I've been resisting the thought of attending an actual Samhain ritual. lovingstones is going to be doing the high priest gig at a ritual tomorrow. She's actually warned that it will be intense. My mom actually called me this morning about dreams that she and my youngest sister, Tracy have both been having about "a fire so bad you had to come live here". I suspect the fires in Southern California have something to do with that.
Since the fire risk here in the northern end of the state has actually been dropping, and the house is certainly NOT at risk any time soon... plus, I couldn't imagine an event so widespread that there would be NOWHERE on the west coast I could stay... I reassured her that I was fine, and that she shouldn't worry. And then I began to write this entry, and as I explored my feelings about this day and the life leading up to it, and began to wonder: Is the fire a metaphor for something else? Is the risk in staying near the flames, or fleeing in fear to a time and place that would reduce me to something even less than I am now, crisis of faith and all?
Is the crux of this Samhain the idea that I should put on a mask, and thus revel myself to myself... or withdraw into mundanity, thus pretending to be someone saner than I am?
Have I already made a choice?