Thoughts on Samhain: When Your Roots Become Your Branches

This is a post from October 2011 which I wanted to share again.

I enjoy living in a small rural town. Each fall I look out my kitchen window on a back yard filled with walnut trees and corn. This year the reformed Amish family didn’t plant sweet corn so my husband and I planted a small patch of popcorn. It’s long since been harvested and the stalks bundled up for decoration in the front of the house. Cool crisp wind blows in from the east and north now bringing frost instead of stifling heat from the Gulf. The fresh air has cleared out the rottin’ nut smell of the summer’s cicada boom and through the open windows of my home blows away the stale air and smell of old window air units. I can track the sun through the year by how it shines through my neighbor’s young orchard and the older oaks across the street. Thin rays of white and pink don’t break through the trees until after seven and it appears further south.

The rich smell of Mother Earth’s autumn perfume, black damp earth and thick tree sap slowly dripping it’s way toward roots, has me longing to find my own roots and prepare my spiritual stores for the long cold days ahead. My husband and I live with chronic illness. We never know when we’ll have good days or bad. When we’ll be able to function (do the dishes and make it to the grocery store) or not. So when we are feeling well, we have to prepare for the days ahead just as anyone would prepare for bad weather or an emergency. Just as people gathered the last harvest of Summer and celebrated at Samhain. Life is really spirals you see. Cycles that happen over billions of years with the birth and death of stars, centuries with geological ages of our planet, the cycles of civilizations, cycles of a lifespan, cycles of the seasons, and daily cycles.

I also don’t like living in a small rural town. I had a major seizure in July where I was able to think, but I could not talk. My brain and mouth were not connecting. All I could produce were stuttering and buzzing sounds. I was seeing flashes of light and became light sensitive. I could barely walk on my own and I went from periods of convulsions to being unable to move. I was trapped in a body that I had minimal control over. My daily routine is very controlled, I have to eat at the same time, take my medications at the same, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. That routine and communication are a major part of who I am. So this loss of control and meaningful communication was terrifying to my very core. Luckily nothing showed up on the emergency room CT scan so I didn’t have a tumor but that also meant the doctors didn’t know what was going on. The closest EEG was an hour away in a larger town. I didn’t have health insurance so I didn’t get to see my primary physician until September. Honestly, he had let me “sit in” on my husband’s appointments many times when in reality he was diagnosing us both and getting me as many free medications as possible. Gods bless that man.

After consulting with my doctor, we decided I’d have to wait until the next seizure before having an EEG. We didn’t want to over medicate me since I was already on so many prescriptions because of Turners related endocrine failures. Since then, I’ve had more seizures and I had my EEG in the “big city” which is just ten thousand people. The problem is there is one neurologist in the tri-county area so I won’t know what’s going on until mid-November. Now when I have these seizures there are periods when I can’t think. I just stare and shake.

When you’re whole world is turned upside down your roots become your branches. When you can’t trust your body … when you’re body is no longer who you are, who are you? In a way I’m used to this. When I have a month of infection after infection and normal life functions aren’t functioning normally such as keeping food down or easy breath, who am I? I have to be my mind.

Sometimes, though, my mind isn’t who I am because of the chemical imbalances in my body.
Who I am can’t be defined by how I react to situations because life is full of so many variables. I don’t always know how I’ll react. Oh sure I have ideals and can picture the valiant me or the strong me but that all depends on how I feel and what’s going on at the time. It’s that way for all of us to a certain degree. It doesn’t make us flaky. It makes us human. It makes us souls experiencing the physical world.

With my body stripped away as a constant, with my actions stripped away as a constant, I get a taste of death. A sacrament of Samhain if you will that leaves only my sense of being. My sense of existence. The calm observer which has no expectations. It’s a brief moment of kissing the limitless as T. Thorn Coyle has so aptly named one of her books. Brief because even this state does not last. We, especially those of us who are disabled or deal with chronic illness, are plunged into sensory overload from pain, disorientation or any other malfunction that can occur in our intricate yet frail human machine.

So when I am lost, when my branches are my roots and my roots are my branches, I turn to nature and watch. I watch and find my core in existence.

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