Monday 31 October 2022

Happy Hallowe'en

On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the light shall have the harp of gold.

By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan’s Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.

When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon’s sword the Dark shall fall.

Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu,
ac y mae’r arglwyddes yn dod. 
 ~ Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising series

I love this poem so much. I don't know exactly why, but from the very first time I read that opening line, I was hooked. Every Hallowe'en, it rises unbidden and I must seek it out and read it again. I'm certain I've shared it here before, but have it again. And if you haven't read the series it's from, go! Go now, and find Over Sea, Under Stone and read it. I know it's meant for children and it's mostly adults who read my book, but go read it now with your child eyes. I hope it stirs something in you like it did me.
It's the third book in the series, The Green Witch, that captivates me the most. The dream-like sequence with Jane under water with the witch. It haunts me. 
I love liminal things, being at the edges. I love to stand on the sand with the sea washing my toes, or dipping them into the stream beneath the trees, or to stand in the depths of a woodland, at the boundary between civilisation and wildness, between reality and possibility.
I've always felt a very liminal person. Today is the day of the dead, the day the veil thins and we can almost caress our dead loved ones. Death, being dead, has always frightened me. One part of my brain accepts that after death comes nothingness, a lack of existence, and that terrifies me more than I can bear. But I have other parts of me too, and I have learnt to let them talk, to let them soothe the fear so I can still breathe, still think. Parts of me that aren't afraid of death, but fascinated by it. Parts of me that wish they could be a Ferryman.
To try and help me deal with my fear of my own mortality, my Dad explained to me that one of the roles of the Hindu Goddess I was named for, my middle name, Kali, is death, is a psychopomp. The word appealed to me: a spirit or other divine being who guides a soul from one life, one state of being, to the next (that I, a white western woman, am named with Celtic and Hindu influences, is something I sometimes feel I need to address for concerns of cultural appropriation. I will leave it, for fear of overexplaining, with that a dear friend of my mother is Hindu).
I'd like to be both a doula and a death doula, someone who spends time with a person entering the world, and leaving it. I think it's why the Witches are my favourite Discworld characters: I immediately understood that was a role of theirs.
Hallowe'en is a day for reflecting on death, and Death, and other worlds. It's a day for considering who we are, and who we want to be. Death in Tarot doesn't necessarily mean the end of life, rather it represents change, the end of a stage. It is paired with the hope of rebirth, in some form.
Covid has shifted the world, and the world is trying to realise itself again. It could go in many directions. Some of the most hopeful have already been closed off, but at my core I'm an optimist.
I've always felt in a liminal state, torn between possibilities. I feel as though I may be starting to peel through them to find the balance point, the place where I'm meant to be.

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