Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy New Year, or Why I Don’t Go Out on Halloween

Today is Samhain, Celtic New Year. Today is the day when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, permitting spirits to cross back over into our world, and permitting unwary souls to wander from this world into Faerie. Tonight, in the Druidic tradition, all the hearth fires would be extinguished, then relit from the bonfire lit by the king and blessed by his Druids.

Or so we think. No one really knows, because the Druids died out long ago, when Christianity came to the Emerald Isle. I’ve seen conflicting sources about what day Samhain actually is – some say All Hallow’s Eve (October 31), some say All Saints’ Day (November 1), some say Dia de los Muertos (November 2). I suspect that the ancient Druidic observance of Samhain had more to do with the cycle of the moon and the seasons than it was tied to an actual calendar day, but that’s just my theory.

On a more intimate note, today is my personal New Year’s Eve. Because I was born on All Saints’ Day, around Samhain and Dia de los Muertos, this time of year is deeply meaningful to me. Today is the day I contemplate the year gone by, and what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. Samhain just gives me an external justification for my intuition that the year is winding down and the new one is just ahead. My heritage is mostly Celtic, which justifies the emotional attachment to Celtic New Year, and I grew up in an area with a large Mexican population, so Dia de los Muertos also has some emotional significance, although I have never observed those traditions.

Regardless, most people seem to accept the idea that this particular night is special. Secular America has de-emphasized the supernatural elements and significance, by focusing on candy and fun costumes and silliness. Those things are fine and dandy as far as they go, but for me it is important to remember that there is more in the universe than our five senses can perceive. And that this night of any night, there is more supernatural activity than usual.

How do I know? I can feel it. I started feeling it last night. It was not quite 11:00 p.m. when I stopped at a red light and looked out over the hills of north Austin. I could see a lot of traffic, and suddenly I could feel a restlessness in the night air. I prayed for God’s protection of the city and its population.

Looking back on my childhood, I realize that I’ve always been able to feel the otherworldly atmosphere on Halloween. It scares me, because all of the spirits I’ve ever felt have been malevolent.

One Halloween when I was in college, I was at campus late and decided that rather than driving home, I’d go to a friend’s house. She worked nights and left a key for me outside her door. I was welcome any time. So I went over there around midnight. The moon was high and almost full, but her yard was peculiarly dark. I was uncomfortable as I walked from the car to the front door, and I could not find the rock where she had hidden the key. I stood there in the yard for a moment, and could feel hate focused on me from all directions. It was oppressive and momentarily paralyzing. Suddenly I couldn’t stand to be there another minute, so I rushed back to my car and went home.

I am not afraid of the Evil One. Neither he nor his servants have power over me, because my soul belongs to the Creator. But I will not expose myself to their hatred and malevolent intent, either. I stay at home on Halloween, safe in the protection of my God’s love and power.

Tonight the veil is thin, my friends. Be careful, be vigilant, and do not let yourselves be led astray. I pray that God will keep you safe from harm, and that the coming year will overflow with blessing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Living with an Invisible Illness, part 1

Many people I know suffer from invisible illnesses. I wrote this today during a bad flare. Nothing practical here, but hopefully in the days to come we can change that.

Fibromyalgia haiku

This flush on my face
So cheerful, seeming healthy
Lies – All is not well

“You look so healthy”
Appearances deceive you
This body - broken

Trigger points scream red
Without external pressure
Pools of pain inside

Large muscles spasm
Small ones clench, no release
No relief exists

Cannot filter noise
Near or far, it all pierces
I’m flying apart

My brain, wrapped in gauze
Thoughts disappear in the gray
What was I saying?

Sleep may be reprieve
Or not – hours pass, but still
Bone-deep exhaustion

Flares may fade away
“Normal” return for a day
But “Health” never will

This is my life now
Hurt, tired, and misunderstood
God is my refuge