The Samhain that Wasn’t

Following up on a successful, if belated, Loafmass, this year I wanted to have a good Samhain celebration. I tried to get to it by October 31st, but that didn’t happen — work ate my face last month and I was supremely busy.

That’s okay, I thought. Samhain season lasts until Remembrance Day for me anyway. I have some time.

I started the first steps of my Honoring the Mothers project, which was setting up the dining room table. And then I got ready to put together a Samhain ritual that was about the ancestors, about Manannan’s adoption of me, and about starting this year and a day project.

The night of the day I finished the table I walked into my office to journal…and heard a squelch as my feet got wet and cold.

Our house flooded.

I’ve spent the past week packing up things, doing a million loads of laundry, dealing with ruined items, getting sick from mildew, and dealing with landlords and insurance people in and out, in and out. I haven’t said my morning and evening prayers all week; I’ve barely been able to write because until tonight I wasn’t able to access my laptop; most of our belongings had to be taken down and moved around; half my shrines are taken down and packed up and the other half are inaccessible.

At points I thought the stress might kill me. I’ve had trouble breathing, trouble sleeping, trouble thinking.

Somehow in the middle of all this I found a few moments of peace, found a few moments of clarity. Although it felt as if my year and a day plan had been tossed out the window, it hadn’t. I just needed to factor things like this into it. Adjust. Pivot. Still, some part of me is deeply bitter at the repetitious play of my life: make a plan, watch it fall to shit. Get things slightly together, brace for impact. At some point, I start to wonder if maybe it’s not better that I just give it up. At some point, I start to wonder why my mother didn’t name me Sisyphus.

Now I need to make the decision if I want to do Samhain sometime this coming week or not. I’m physically exhausted and I have no actual physical space to hold any kind of actual ritual. But maybe I can write something simple, share a gin and tonic (my Oma’s favourite drink) with the ancestors and Manannan, and just be. Even if it’s at a ridiculously messy kitchen table. (Currently holding my laptop, my mom’s PC, two boxes of Christmas ornaments, a bottle of distilled water, Monopoly and 1980s Trivial Pursuit, a box of random crap, my music books, a stack of catalogs, a box of CDs, two of my headscarves and one headband, my library book bag — but not the library books — three journals, the proof of the Polytheist Devotional Journal I’m trying to work on, a box of Spongebob stickers, pliers, a screwdriver, and the liquor licence for my wedding last year.)

I think I should do something, even if I’m so stressed and tired I feel like whatever antennae I use to sense the gods and spirits have been cut off, taped up, otherwise incapacitated. Even if I feel like something broke in me this year, and help has yet to arrive. Maybe I just need to fake it till I make it, show up and do things and hope I can feel something. It’s not just my extremities that are numb these days. I’ve built up a thick shell around something darker, something I dare not express, something that needs cotton swabbing to keep it hidden.

I am fumbling my way through the dark, hoping I don’t hurt myself or others. I am trying to keep the beacons lit, striking matches against my rock hard flesh, hoping someone will see the flame on the horizon, ride to my aid, cut me out of this prison I find myself in.

Show up. Do the work. Hope it saves you.

It’s all I can do for now. It’s all I can manage.

~Morag


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