Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead: this most important holiday commemorates the end of the harvest season, and the start of the fallowing of the earth as it rejuvenates in slumber until the following year. Fortunately, recent rain brought us a harvest with a plethora of pumpkins. Ancient lore tells of the incredible power of this versatile winter squash that magically transforms into soups and curries, pickles and pies. In a previous post I even located tales of vampire pumpkins!
This also is a time of mourning the dead, celebrating their lives, and communing with the loved ones no longer with us in this world. Most of all, I miss every day my mother, gone for more than four years now. But I also think of my father, whom I lost long ago, when I was much younger. Perhaps this is why I’ve always felt an affinity for the dark, the melancholy, the gothic: the poetry and fiction of Hawthorne; Poe, Stoker and other death-obsessed Victorians; even modern speculative fiction and fantasy, which delves deeply into the existential horror of the loss of those we love the most, and finally, our own mortality. I find it comforting, though, to remember – and in this way, to be with – those we’ve lost. Emily Dickinson wrote:
Because I could not stop for Death –He kindly stopped for me –The Carriage held but just Ourselves –And Immortality.