Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallowed

I love this time of year. The surge of power as the year dies. This is the true new year, and I just do not understand why this is not new year for everyone.
The days grow darker, and I pull my house together in preparation. The screens come down the storms go in, the big old farm windows that lift in and out in season go in again- and the noise level goes waaaaay down (a very good thing).
The colours are glorious- this is New England, after all. The very quality of light changes, thinning and piercing. The skies are grey and the treeline is gold and orange and red. Mount Wachusett looms purple, watching over us in the distance. Nashoba Valley bursts with apples and pumpkins. The days are crisp, and the nights are nippy. Will fleece do, or will I turn on the heat and stop shivering? (Heat wins- when it gets to the thirties, heat always wins!) The clocks have changed, so now the morning rising involves the rosy sunrise. Now the drive home is with the purple western sky at my back, and the sky is dark when I pull into the drive. I light candles each night, five or more, and when I retire, I light a few candles while I read myself into dreams. This is the time to make light.
And this day is All Hallows Evening- the holiest day on the Celtic calendar. This morning, I touched the stones from Newgrange. I looked at the little brass dish with the triskele, full of stones from the floor of the holiest place in Druidom, and I charged myself on its energy. Everything I did today took second place to the undercurrent I felt.
The veil between the worlds is at its thinnest tonight. I guard myself, yet I open myself.
My grandmother told me how, as a child in 1870's Ireland, they brought food out to the graves of their ancestors as a mark of respect; and how the braver brought food out to the hill they called the faery rath. The faery rath was excavated in the 1970’s and proved to be the ancient temple at Newgrange, with its sisters at Knowth and Dowth; the holy temples built by my Neolithic ancestors 500 years before the pyramids. I felt in my bones what was done there- saining in birth and in death, the passage between the worlds, the light of both.
Here in America, the celebration is a dim mockery of the original holy day. Children disguise themselves from the spirits and souls of their ancestors, and don masks to keep the dead away. They demand sugar- food offerings from the living. That's cool, if a tad commercial. I pride myself that my children never needed to buy their disguises. We always had a ready supply that we utilized far more frequently than most of the neighbors. My dress-up box provided fun for a generation. I was not averse to the occasional disguise (my urban professional is a mark of pride- today I was told that the drug rep in the meeting I attended as a student thought I was a lawyer!)
My gifts awaken on this day. I smell, I sense, I see, I think, I hear, I touch, I sing. I lit candles, I placed a spotlight to my front door. I placed a table near the door with autumn leaves in a Celtic knotwork pewter vase, with a tin pail of candy and some small gourds upon it. The little ghouls clamor, and the big ghouls with their candy roar with laughter when I approve of their pillowcases- this is the night for sugar greed.
This is the night for demands to be met. This is the night for far vision. This is the night for holy candles. This is the night for guests to be accommodated- whatever world they come from.
On this night we acknowledge- the veil between the worlds is thinner than we like to think about from day to day. This is something I have known always- but on this night, the world agrees with me.

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