Ever feel uncertain about what you’re doing? That maybe there’s some better, other way? Yeah me too. But I think there’s a way through.
Samhain season is upon us yet it feels cliché to say it’s my favorite time of year. I think the sentiment is true for a lot of Witches. There is the bounty of the harvest, the changing colors of the foliage, the plentitude of witchy homegoods, and general spooky goodness all around. But there’s also a lot of expectations too.
Season of the Witch?
But I don’t know if I really do have a favorite season anymore. I find something beautiful in every step of the growing cycle around me: from the first bursts of impossibly bright greens in Spring, to the bolstering beauty of Summer, and even in the reserved and frozen decay of Winter. There’s push and pull in each that I can find magic in.
These last few weeks, I have found myself wandering around my backyard. I’ve observed the leaves changing in the herbs and the spotting and rotting of the tomatoes done in by the excessive rains. I’ve watched flocks of birds feed on the seeds of the unmowed grasses and the morning glories strangling themselves in their own bounty. I know should be doing something about all of this – besides watching. Be a good gardener, tidy things for the winter, put stuff away. But it all sits. Death begins to linger.
But I feel I have to try. I’m decorating the yard for Halloween while watching the solar lights come on and then dim a little quicker each night as the days shorten and the dark takes over. The sudden resurgence of summer-like heat has rotted the largest decorative gourd and it weeps by the door. I leave it.
Death creeps in cat feet and drops like a clumsy elephant…
The older I get, the only veils I tend to talk about are the ones I dance with. I know that the spirits are always present all year, but as the Summer turns to Fall, we notice death more. We notice life receding. We remember. We begin to feel loss even more closely as the buzz of the blooms fade.
There has been a lot of loss this year: personally, communally, collectively, culturally. Many names close to my heart. There have been good things too – and I hold those moments very dear too. But the spoon of salt often lingers longer in the mouth than the kiss of honey. Loss wounds, binds, pushes, and pulls. You don’t expect to be counting down last minutes of togetherness, lost in a spell of memory and grief. Loss also forges moments of transformation and discovery you didn’t even know were on the menu to begin with. There’s got to be meaning, or does there? Why?
Which is a poetic way of saying: sometimes I just really don’t fucking know either. There are some days I look at the world and my soul feels so heavy that words can’t even come. I can’t fix it all. What can I say that I haven’t already said before? How do you emerge out of a churning sea to hold a drop of rain – just for others to see because it’s expected? Even though all the while you’re not waving, but drowning?
The stones behind us, the fire before us…
It’s hard and rough-going. But you have to remember the rules:
- Take care of yourself.
- Take care of others.
- Don’t be an asshole.
Outside of the demands of my larger schedule, I haven’t been a good planner this year. And I felt a bit like an asshole reaching out to a small group of friends the day before the Full Moon to be like, “um, so want to come over and burn some stuff in the yard tomorrow night?” Like isn’t this sort of stuff supposed to be planned far in advance? But I felt the pull so I put it out there, and indeed they came.
Because we’ve all been in the same place heartwise and it’s what we all needed – to take care of ourselves and each other. To commune in our grief, to bear witness to the darkness, to stand together, and breathe in the fire. I had panicked a bit when it was clear everyone was coming over. Once again, I felt like I was “supposed to” do something like planning now.
I pulled out some of my old books and grimoires, maybe I could find a chant or something. But the chants of old (*cough*the 90’s*cough*) felt inane and hollow. The rituals felt like dust in my eyes and powder on my tongue. So I cleaned the house instead. I grabbed some incense blends and that was pretty much the end of prep. I’d figure it out later.
But then there we were, all standing in the backyard getting the fire started. We were chatting and joking around, but then the ritual began on its own. The mood shifted and something poured out of me, guiding our journey that I didn’t even know we were going on or that I was going to be the one to lead. And then each person brought something to it in their own way. Magic took over, thick and present in the air. Together we communed in the firelit shadows, kissed by the wind and leaves, and watched by the planets, stars, and bold moon above.
The only way is through…
For not the first or third or probably the last time this year, I have found myself asking myself, “who am I to do this thing?” Especially when surrounded by equally experienced and knowledgeable folks. But every time, the effort has been embraced and brought meaning to others. Despite my doubts and downtalk. And in that, I feel I have an answer that may apply to you as well: “I am the one who is here.”
And in all of this reflection forged in the mire and muck of this year, I would like to offer you something else that I am reminding myself of: Start with you and connect out from there. That’s the change we can do, the magic we can work. It starts with the weaving we do absent of fear and impregnated with hope. Small but mighty steps that do have meaning to those around us, and spiral out from there.
Release the expectations of supposed-to’s, should’s, and appeasing the invisible but loudly unpresent. They are not you and they will never be you. They do not know you. They will not walk your path. It is yours alone.
Walk the labyrinth of spirit, listen to the stones behind and below you, and feel the kiss of tomorrow’s fire upon your brow. This Samhain, the Witch that guides you forward is you.