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)

Out from the Cult

Upcoming Holidays
May
5/29 Memorial Day
June
6/9 Full Moon 
6/18  Fathers’ Day 

6/20  Summer Solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/23  St John’s Eve
July
7/4  Fourth of July/US Independence Day
7/8  Full Moon
7/25  St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
August
8/1 N Lamas/Lughnasadh
8/7  Full Moon
8/7  Partial lunar eclipse: visible in most of Europe, most of Asia, Australia, Africa, and eastern South America.
8/21 Total solar eclipse: totality visible in parts of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska Iowa,  Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina; partially visible in other parts of the United States, Canada, Central America, northern South America, western Europe, and western Africa.
Important dates in Nazi groups
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party

.

born into a neon winter
garish and harsh
colors so bright they flamed
no closing my eyes
nothing to suck
only burning neon flames

grown in a cold cold winter
grey and silent
no movement
no comfort
only me, alone

then oh!
on the horizon
sunflowers, rivers. green hills, sun and sand, soaring gulls, deer,
rabbits, suburbs and suburbs of warm homes, laughter, dancing,
song, beds and food and drink
a plentitude, a plentitude

It was a long road, but I got here.

I Need Some Help

I had an idea for a 365-page journal. Maybe 366. On each page, it would have the date, a quote relating to abuse or healing, and perhaps also a line drawing of a flower or leaf or something else simple and from nature. I would call it “Book of Days.”

It sounded so easy! And then I started working on it and it wasn’t so easy after all.

Poking around finding quotes is fun. But when I find a fantastic one, it makes all the others look sort of dull. Now I am thinking I ought to get about 1000 and choose the best ones. My work has just tripled!

And then how do I get it published?  It would be useless as an e-book, because nobody could write in it. I doubt if anybody would want to download and print a 366-page PDF. Even if they did, the pages would float around and get lost because the book wouldn’t be bound.

These days there is such a thing as “print on demand.” You send a company a digital file of your book and they keep it on file and print the number of books you order from them. I priced a few and they turned out to be about what I wished the retail price to be. In this day and age, 366 pages is one beeeeeg book.

Some of these companies leave the marketing to you, others do the marketing (except for book signings, of course.) That brings the price way up. But I do not think it would be a good use of my time to do the marketing, which would be a half-time job, at the very least, in the beginning. Especially since I have never done it before and would probably make a large number of beginners’ mistakes.

So I’m asking for help on three fronts.

One is with the quotes. Got any inspiring lines that you are willing to share? Here are a few of my favorites so far —

It is never the child’s fault. – Anon

In all the years still to come, may your body walk as fast as the love and passion that moves you. – Catalina

I learned that it is the weak who are cruel and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong. – Leo Calvin Rosten

Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break. – Shakespeare, Macbeth

The tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds. – Mexican proverb

Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. – Saint Francis of Assisi

Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water. And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes you cannot even breathe deeply, and the night sky is no home, and you have cried yourself to sleep enough times that you are down to your last two percent; but nothing is infinite, not even loss. You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day you are going to find yourself again. – Finn Butler

When in worry
When in doubt
Run in circles
Scream and shout.
“EEK! EEK! EEK!”
– contemporary Wiccan spell

Two is with the illustrations. Can you draw maple leaves? Daisies? Weeds?

Three is with printing advice. Have you published a book? What good choices did you make? Did you make mistakes I could learn from?

I’m open to all feedback. Even if you think this is a really dumb idea — I need to hear it.