Halloween, or Samhain, is the time of the Celtic New Year, the end of harvest and the winding down of warmer, sunnier months into a darker, more introspective time of year. Watching the orb weaver spiders spin their silken webs in our garden brings to mind creatures like worms, newts, snails, slugs, earwigs, beetles, and rats – all of which we have our share of, in addition to the more obviously beautiful butterflies, ladybugs, bees, and songbirds. Then (not in our garden) there are the snakes, bats, black cats (like our departed Sam), wolves. Looking at the moss and lichen on nearby trees and rocks, I marvel at their interdependence (lichen feeds and grows on, yet gradually destroys rocks). Together with humans, all are integral parts of nature, and each has a function we cannot always see.
They all have their own purposes, which can interfere with our own at times; flora and fauna that culture and society teach us are “bad,” and to be feared, but which may not pose any threat to us at all. They also have their own beauty, which may be lost to us in our superstitions and fears.
Death and destruction are part of the web of life, but for of course, fear of death is uppermost for many of us. Since my father passed away when I was a teenager, I’ve felt mortality very closely. Growing up as a punk with distinctly Gothic sympathies, I drifted in my mind between that shadow world, and the sunny, bright world of the living. Perhaps acknowledging and discussing openly our fears, our hopes and plans for our own passing, should become a bigger part of our lives.
This time of year is also Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, the time for remembering our dead. I think of the relatives and friends B. and I have lost (my father first and foremost among them, as well as our beloved cat). Now the veil between the living and dead is supposedly the thinnest, making it easy to pass between the worlds. Celebrate these festivals with your loved ones, and always keep them close!