Halloween: 1999 and 2019

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I was searching my computer for a poem by verne that was published in the Survivorship Journal ages ago and came across some of my old writing. (If by some remote chance somebody has any poems by verne, they would be much appreciated. Just put them in the comments section.)

Here’s the poem – I think his spirit shines through.

A Toast

take a glass and raise it high
to those of us who won’t
lay down and die
some of us beaten and abused
by those we loved
others by our government
still we won’t
lay 
down and die

so take a glass
and drain it dry.

verne

~~~~~

I found this piece, which is 20 years old! It was the first year I was editing Survivorship’s Monthly Notes. Shortly afterwards, I went on to edit the Journal, as well.

 Halloween, October 1999

I’m really ambivalent about fall. As a child, I never could decide if I dreaded the return to school or couldn’t wait. On the one hand, there was the relentless pressure to do everything perfectly the first time, the social isolation, the contempt of the other kids. On the other hand, there was the hope that I would somehow magically discover the secret to happiness and social ease. Perhaps in second grade? Perhaps third? Perhaps a Ph.D. in Comparative Tibetan Literature would do the trick?

And then, lurking in my unconscious, was the knowledge that some pretty awful days were coming up. I’m sure even a first grader knows on some level that when the leaves start to fall, the Equinox, and then Halloween, can’t be far behind.

Halloween seems a very difficult holiday to reclaim. To me, it connotes death and destruction on many levels, and reclaiming death seems impossible. There is nothing in my heritage, either the day heritage or the night one, that allows me to feel comfortable with death or the process of dying.

Nobody I knew spoke of the dead with respect and affection, nobody in my childhood celebrated their lives. I wonder what it would be like to have my first associations with death be The Day of the Dead – a joyful picnic in the cemetery, with laughter and reminiscing, food prepared from ancient recipes, children running around and playing.

So how do I cope? Well, to tell you the truth, I generally try something different each year, because nothing has satisfied me so far. I tried making elaborate treats for the trick-or-treaters. I tried turning off all the lights and going to bed at 5:30. One year I painted the inside of the garage. I tried a trip to a tourist town I had never seen. (Bad idea. I found I prefer to be miserable in familiar surroundings. Of course, I never would have known that if I hadn’t experimented.)

One year I tried to ‘sanitize’ part of the ritual. Along with two tolerant friends, I built a fire in their fireplace. We took slips of paper and wrote all the things we wanted to say goodbye to and then burned the paper. We then wished each other Happy New Year. (October 31st is the first day of the Celtic New Year.) We wrote all the things we wanted to welcome into our lives on more scraps of paper, took them home, and planted them in the dirt so they could grow. That was sort of cool.

This year? I don’t know yet.

Halloween, October 2019

I don’t feel upset about Halloween . . . yet. I’m glad I am no longer all triggered two weeks ahead of every major holiday. I don’t feel the panicky pressure of the days ticking off, and I haven’t planned anything special.

I remember doing something really cool one year back then. Halloween is the Celtic New Year, and the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is believed to be thinner than usual. Since the dead can come and visit, there is a tradition of setting out a portion of the evening meal to welcome them.

So I put a plate of whatever I had made for dinner out on the deck. The next day, the food was all gone!!! I was awed and baffled until I noticed little footprints. Raccoons had come and had a feast. My friends thought the dead had shape-shifted into raccoons, which is a lovely thought. Ancestors or raccoons, it didnt matter to me. I felt a little less anger and resentment against my parents. It’s great to do something kind for somebody you hate; it softens your soul and eases your burden.

I’m saddened that I no longer have the energy to do as much writing as I did twenty years ago. By and large, I like what I wrote back then, and I feel that my style hasn’t changed much. I only hope that what I manage to do now measures up.

~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

October
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year
November
11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/2 All Souls’ Day
11/11 (?) Veterans’ Day
11/12 Full moon
11/28 US Thanksgiving
December
12/1, 12/8, 12/15, 12/22 Sundays of Advent
12/11 Full moon
12/21 Winter solstice/Yule/St. Thomas’ Day
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/15 Christmas Day
12/26 Annular solar eclipse. Totality visible in Saudi Arabia, southern India, Sri Lanka, parts of Indonesia, Singapore, and parts of the Philippines.
12/31 New Year’s Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
10/20 Hitler’s actual half-birthday
10/21 Hitler’s alternative half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and 10/20. His alternate birthday is celebrated on Easter of the current year and his alternate half-birthday six months later.)
10/21 – 10/22 Simchat Torah (celebration of the complete annual cycle of reading of the Torah)
11/9 Kristallnacht State-ordered pogroms against Jews in Germany and Austria)
12/22 – 12/30 Chanukah
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

13 thoughts on “Halloween: 1999 and 2019

  1. Great post. I smiled when I read how you left the food outside and the trash pandas ate it. I understand having less energy to write. Since I am an elder now I have less energy to do a lot of things. But I love your writing and it is always satisfying for me to read. Years ago I would feel the effects of Halloween in early September. Now it starts a couple of weeks before. So, I think I have healed a lot.

    Like

    1. You sure have changed in response to Halloween! Gold stars!

      Thanks for telling me how you feel about my writing. It’s often hard to keep going, and the feedback helps me so much – energizes me!

      Like

  2. Hi Jean,
    I can’t remember how you would like to have memories shared regarding mothers giving birth in cults? I would prefer to share more privately

    Like

    1. Thank you for considering this!

      I think the easiest way would be to send it to rahome @ ra-info.org

      Or print it out, enclosing your email address, and send it to

      RA Projects
      PO Box 14276 4304 18th St
      San Francisco CA 94114

      Then we can correspond.

      Or you can

      Like

  3. Jean,you have neen there for so many, for a very long time!
    I for one, am stronger for the faith, and hope you have instilled, in me and our community.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To Jean and all. have you read Kathleen Sullivan’s book, Broken Shackles, Or Brice Taylor’s (aka Susan Ford) “Thanks for the Memories” and/or Starshine. I am just wondering. They seem by far, the most legitimate and have produced monumental works. Kathleen was a CIA assassin, among other things. Brice Taylor had a far greater range of experiences due to her many varied duties.

    I have been studying psychology since 1982. The most fascinating part of it, is the stored away in the mind, Traumas, that remain hidden in hopes of releasing them into the conscious intellectual mind for healing and for learning. The late Dr. Janov practiced this sort of therapy, although I think those who treat MPDs/DIDs have discovered more along the way. What are your experiences with what some call Ab-reaction therapy? Or What have you heard about it. How popular or not, is it, among recovering ritual abuse victims?

    Like

    1. I read them years ago, when they first came out. Also Carol Rurtz’ sand the Hersha sisters’ books.

      I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on abreactions in therapy. My sense is that it has fallen out of favor and therapists are looking to what they believe are gentler and more effective techniques, such as EMDR.

      What I really do believe is that there is no such thing as one approach fits all – it’s an individual matter to be worked out between the client and the therapist, as a team.

      Like

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