Seasonal Magics

Halloween

Whether you celebrate All Hallows, Halloween, or Samhain, this is a favorite time of the year for many of us and age is not a factor except maybe for ‘trick ‘o treating’ for candy. And I hear some folks do this as well at Halloween parties, so technically, we Boomers can still participate in this wondrous activity as well.

The following is a story I wrote for a writing group many years ago, but gave me pause at the time to think about my ancestors and the pumpkins that lead the way providing light within the dark and spooky night. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Halloween!

Of note: This is more a young adult or adult story written for telling by candlelight or campfire with the grownups. Lol. Again, Happy All Hallows!

The First Halloween March

It came to pass in a time and place that now exceeds the limits of mortal memory, that the first great Migration of Souls made their way across the land. The season was that of The Great Harvest Feast in the realm known as Peace. In the story told for as long as anyone can remember one- half of the population of each kingdom in the realm would gather in person in the kingdom of the great squash king to celebrate the ancient prophecy now that was now becoming reality. The other half of all the kingdoms would remain home to tend the crops and look after the livestock. But they too would be bestowed the gift that would follow the royal wedding.

The legend unfolding had long foretold a sacred marriage between the light and not so like light forces at work throughout the season within the kingdoms. The royal couple would then be blessed with the ability to bestow the energies of peace and compassion upon the realm, as well as the gift of sunshine and warmth enough to make the land more bountiful and allow neighbors to be out of doors with one another and celebrate for a glorious day lasting from All Hallows Eve to the night following. After which, the days would continue to grow shorter into the winter, but they will filled with more sunlight and less clouds.

The prophecy had begun to unfold within what seemed a single heartbeat, and the message of the royal wedding was carried upon the winds to all the kingdoms in the realm. Plans for the royal wedding were set in motion throughout the countryside as soon as the announcement was made. Plans that have sat on shelves collecting dust for as long as anyone could remember. Ancestral elders had left directions for the celebration many generations ago.

The sacred vows would be recited on the eastern bank of the Citrine River, the place of new beginnings, at precisely the dawning of the great festival day. Following the nuptials would be a feasting such as none had seen before, stretching the length of The Kingdom of The Great Squash King who was beside himself with happiness as he watched  the kingdom set up for the wedding and feasting in a great flurry of anticipation! Only the best foods and beverages would do, and those who could not attend would receive banquets of their own. The elders had taken charge of the decorations which was planned by several generations that had gone before while waiting for the day to put them in motion.

As part of the ensuing nuptial festivities, the souls of the spirit realm who dwelled within the nocturnal mists and cared for the sick would leave their homes and travel across the land of occasional sunshine. Only the wisest of the elders knew the exact location of the Great Veil of the world, the wisdom having been passed down throughout time, as it would be their task to lower this covering between the world of the living and the departed for a single day. The dear departed would be free to walk amongst their friends and family until night fell once again upon the land from the night known as All Hallows until night until the night of the following day.

Stories passed down throughout time on the realm also held that at the precise moment of midnight on their wedding day, the night would forfeit much of its time spent in darkness to the day that followed allowing for more hours of sun to reach the crops across the land and the sun to shine upon the feasting celebrations that would continue into the following evening. The day following the wedding would be one of brilliant robin’s egg blue skies and a warmth that only the ancestors of the elders would remember. The kingdom of the squash king is situated closest to the realm known as earth where their people have many full moons a year of sunshine and soft rains to feed the peoples with food and pleasure, and the peoples of this land are scurrying around speaking of just such a brilliant gift as they set the tables for the great feast. All was wonder and happiness for the kingdom of the squash king.

There were many, however, who had forgotten about the great march across the land that would also celebrate the royal wedding but would be of a more somber purpose. The march from the land of the Keepers was also commencing. A march of such immense joy, the likes of which had not been seen for longer than anyone could remember, balanced by the reality that this march would also include the sick who had no family of their own and were cared for by the keepers. The very ill would make this final journey as well. Those who would walk across the great veil to become ancestors themselves and join their friends and family who have gone before.

The Great Halloween March would also travel the way of the Citrine River, although it would culminate as the day of blessing ends when the great veil is once again raised on the morrow. Many adventures often occur when traveling the Citrine River paths and history often tends to repeat itself. Some of these adventures are wondrous, and some occasional mut be filled with unplanned circumstances.

And this march would be accompanied by the pumpkin tribe, cousins of the squash king, for they alone carried the pumpkin that would carry the first light of the new year and time to come.

Pumpkins were given one of the highest honors within the Spirit Realm, where much of the land consisted of murky mists and watery firmaments. Those that lived and farmed within these swampy shores moved about amidst secondhand illumination. Negotiation from one point to another sometimes required a bit more than their acute night vision, and candles were often placed within weeds or vegetables that were used as lanterns to light the way. Pumpkins were often reserved for the most sacred of occasions, as they possessed very magical qualities.

The very quiet community that exists within this misty world once consisted of a small band of female spirits known as The Order of the Keepers of the Pumpkin LightThey were farmers of the energies required to keep safe The Sacred Flame. Each Keeper understood even the most subtle connections between life and the energies that sustained it. They also knew the exact hour the prophecy of transference would come to fruition even before it had been announced upon the winds. For many generations in fact, the keepers had passed down secrets necessary to assure that The Sacred Flame would be kept lit season after season, awaiting the time it would become the illumination to light the way across the realms, so that new fires would be ignited in the worlds beyond The Great Veil. Most of the remaining members were now healers, as there had been time enough to attend to other things than planning for the march that had not happened for so very long.

They keepers have always been very aware that for there to be profound change, there is also great sacrifice. This is how equal energies are exchanged and balance is allowed to wax and wane throughout the year.

Fire and light were the most precious of energies here. There must be light for the harvesting of crops, and to be a symbol of hope that light itself will never be fully extinguished. It takes a very special vehicle to transport light to this realm, and that vehicle is always one of the sacred pumpkins. Pumpkins grown on this realm within a special patch of fertile marsh, tended carefully by the most diligent keepers. The matron of the keepers selects suitable specimens herself and then bestows upon them the honor to carry a portion of the sacred flame for the coming year. This year however, each of the special vessels will carry the flames and become a guiding light for pilgrims who will cross a vast distance as part of the legend foretold that only they knew would come to be. One pumpkin in particular, the light which will illuminate the way for those who will cross the veil the evening after the wedding.

Pumpkins chosen throughout the years had possessed the quality of perfect preservation, even after separating from its vine. They do not age or wither for the time of a year less a day, at which time they relinquished the light to yet another, making the sacrifice of themselves for there to pies to feed the people for the next great harvest feast. This cycle and tradition had existed for as long as anyone could remember. This sacrifice has become a symbol of the faith maintained by the Souls of the land; that life recycles. All that life will die, but it will live again in another form, usually in another place. It is how balance in maintained. It is a lesson on The Light and The Dark.

On the day of The Great March, as all the inhabitants of this realm gathered to begin the long walk, there were three Keepers who held most unusually tight to one another. The youngest of the trio had become increasingly weakened in body and spirit the preceding year, and now required much assistance to make the journey she had dreamed of all her life. The Order had endeavored just hours before to fill her spirit with the energies of strength and hope, adorning her in the brightest Golden robes, which flowed now without restriction around her body. On her left side, a Keeper held her gently, hoping the vibrations of her blue gown would lend healing their energies to strengthen her sister’s frailty. The one known as the Azure Keeper placed an arm around the younger, supporting her with mind and body alike. To the right of the tiny spirit, a figure wrapped in Violet carefully observed the waning force just beneath her wing. She silently petitioned The Great Spirit for endurance to stay on the course with courage, even though her heart was heavy with sadness.

For she knew that for there to be perfect balance maintained within the universe, each wondrous event has a counterpart of something precious that is lost somewhere else along the journey. And on this day, the tiniest Keeper known as The Quiet One was fading quickly, even as the sacred light grew within the pumpkin grew in strength the closer, they came to the Squash King’s home. The Keepers fell silent now, making their way along the journey in silence and prayer. 

As it happened, not by coincidence at all, the humblest of the chosen pumpkins this time around was who was known as. Jac had been chosen to guide the way of the trio. Even as Jac made his way through the murky water in a forward manner, he repeatedly felt the need to turn his stem backwards, slowing the three often to assure that the group conserved their precious energy. Especially the tiny spirit who was waning so quickly along the way.

The leaves of his vine had surrendered themselves to offer a grounding reference for the smallest figure to fix her feet upon. When it seemed at times that she was unable to continue, the determined pumpkin would summon all available courage energy, and emit the most brilliant orange color! This repeatedly offered at least a momentary lifting of spirit for the frail one, and occasionally, even a smile. Ever mindful of the sacred task of maintaining the flame within his core, Jac offered a many a petition for the tiny spirit whose light became dimmer and dimmer as the day progressed. Jac prayed for additional courage, offering his wishes amidst the fire within his body, and held his stem high as they continued ahead. He understood the consequences of their arrival at the end of the march through the swamps, for he would spend all his own energies to share them with those who would travel to a new land. He had reluctantly accepted the fact he would not see the tiny frail spirit again until it was his time as well to cross beyond the veil. There comes a time for everything, and everything has its own time.

As the trio continued along their path, tiny creatures of the water gathered to swim within the light of the pumpkins. Plants that flowered at no other time budded, and sprouted in gleeful perfusion as each lantern passed their way. Life continued to flourish all around the group of souls as they slowly made their procession forward.

In the Mortal Realm of man, Samhain was approaching. The beginning of winter for the ancient peoples of many realms. Joy had begun to wane with the light of the shorter days, and there were many who had become weakened of spirit. The peoples of the land had come to take for granted the warmth of their sun that they did receive, the abundant crops of the field they still managed to harvest, and the game of the woods who gave of themselves so that the kingdoms would be fed. There were less offerings to the Great Spirit, and the precious medicine of laughter had become shorter in supply. It was a very good thing that there was now a momentous event to lift the hearts and spirits of the people. It would be a very good thing if the people of the realm remembered how many blessings had been bestowed upon them in the year that was ending.

The people of the kingdoms who had adequate light had also become scarcely aware of the adjoining spirit world, and long had they forgotten to honor those who lived in relative darkness so that their world could know balance. They had been unaware too of the message that was being whispered on the Autumn winds, too intent on remaining sad instead of opening themselves to hope. It was a message to remind all that life is to be lived fully, and that everyone is responsible for everyone else. Kindness and sharing are as much a part of life as food and shelter.

The massive migration of travelers across the realm had arrived at their destination. Looking down upon them, they appeared to any onlookers at windows as a flowing plain of seaweed that surrounded the place where the marriage would take place and the many feasting areas that had been set up before their arrival.

The souls who had spent much of their life in service and in darkness had arrived as well and paused to allow their eyes to adjust. As the mist was burnt away by the morning sunlight, their vision slowly cleared. They too were in awe of the wondrous world around them. Color! Such as none had been accustomed to or remembered. The brilliance pierced their minds. Bright Blues, subtle Corals, clear Yellows! Greens that can only be visualized within the White light of the Sun and that they never knew existed.

The wedding and the great feast would commence the hour before midnight, culminating at precisely the moment that time stepped into the new day. Until then, there was feasting and conversation among all who had traveled this day, and the day was filled with cloudless blue skies. There was no talk of the souls who lived in the west who had traveled as well, nor any sadness as there was little awareness of the Great Veil and its purpose at this time.

The Souls who had completed the long journey from the west, however, knew precisely how precious the gifts they had received throughout the year were, and that sacrifice is a gift given in love. The people and the keepers from the west spent the day giving thanks for their blessings and dedicated the food they did partake of to those who had already crossed the great veil, and those who were readying to cross it now.

The trio of three, who had been content to remain sheltered within the edges of the mists for a time, had continued onward following the winding curves of the Citrine River. They had carried their youngest for several leagues now while her strength continued to wane. Her spirit’s light was fading quickly, and she was no longer able to stand. The Order of the Keepers had gathered around her, desiring to continue to hope that she would be able to see with her own eyes the wondrous day that would follow and the robin’s egg blue skies. Surely such an innocent devotee could be a small part of the great freedom the entire realm would all enjoy this night.

They had barely reached the site of the Great Veil when they realized that their hope was not meant to be, and the keepers held her close as the innocent one smiled briefly at her friends before they watched the light of her spirit float effortlessly and silently into the veil where she would join her family and ancestors, but not before the image of her suffering joined Jac’s flame and it became the brilliant glow that would accompany her as she traveled to the other side.

Sadness poured over each of the. keepers. Not because she had passed beyond sight, but because they had lost a beautiful friend. They remained throughout the afternoon singing songs of lament and of joy as well.

But there was yet another mission to complete. The Sacred Flame needed to be lit after the royal couple completed their vows. And the giant bonfire lit at the very spot of the veil between the worlds would stay the passing of any more souls until it was extinguished on the morrow. Now was the time for the Jac to complete his destiny; the humble pumpkin who had kept safe the journey to line the path to the great celebration, lit the way for the innocent one to travel across to her new beginning, and to reveal the symbol of change to the kingdom.

Jac held back his tears now, for he had work to complete.

The celebration did indeed exceed any that ever was or would ever be in the spirit realm known as Peace, and the kingdom of the squash king. The processions of the wedding couple was lit by a hundred brilliant pumpkins! And the people rejoiced. At the precise moment of midnight, the gift of a full day of brilliant sunlight and robin egg blue skies began.

King Rueben The Squash King would wake after all had returned to where it was meant to be, realizing he had dreamed of a realm where everyone was in service to everyone else and kindness was found within all. A wondrous place of peace and joy where all enjoyed the sunshine and relieved the keepers’ burden by taking turns caring for the sick, the weak, and those without family. His heart was renewed, and he issued a proclamation that everyone, young and old, would from here forward strive to care for the land, the people, and the realm with compassion and gratuity.

The kingdoms accepted the proclamation readily and with humility. It was a new world. And all things were as they should be within the realm.

As for the humble and loyal pumpkin Jac?

Unbeknownst to Jac, at one heartbeat past the midnight hour after the momentous day of sunshine, the matron of the keepers had placed one tiny spark of the essence of the youngest Keeper within Jac’s body, exactly where he had carried the Sacred Flame just hours before. The humble pumpkin was now ablaze with light, as if it were on fire from within! Jac lit up much of the celebration area on the night of the wedding and through the feasting and fire circles the day and evening to follow. Just as Jac’s flame was extinguished, when the next night’s darkness appeared, he joined his pale frail friend and her family who was waiting for him on the other side of the veil. And he was happier than he thought he ever could have been.

Jac’s seeds became a field of humble pumpkins that would await their own missions in their own time.

Some events in the history of many realms exceed the limit of memory yet begin the traditions we practice today. One such mystery is the origin of the mysterious Jack-o-Lantern. Who can say for certain how this wondrous way to shine light within the darkness first came to be. We each choose the lore that touches us in a peculiar way. I have shared with you my own choice of pumpkin story, and that of a humble relative, the squash king.

Pumpkin, and Orange itself are the energies of courage and bravery. A color that when needed, begs to be seen by all.

Remember this coming Halloween that being of service to another, whether human or animal, is a sacrifice of kindness and compassion we all should endeavor to complete. It is one of the best qualities of our humanity.

Remember as well that we are the light for others who are living with darkness and will have the opportunity in the months to come to be a beacon for folks who need their way lit brightly. And for those who have crossed the Great Veil to join their families and friends on the other side. Set out an offering for them on All Hallow’s Eve. Even the smallest of treats or an act of kindness you complete in their memory will suffice. Listen for your ancestors in your dreams and remember when you see a pumpkin this year, remember Jac’s courage and the sacrifice he made for those he loved.

Should you be one of those who is quite comfortable with things that go’ bump in the night, consider spending some time with your own special pumpkin this season. Carve it with care and remember those who have gone before who you might remember as you carry your own light into the night. Your pumpkin may become a vehicle to reach out for those who would visit on just such a night. So, light your own sacred flame within your pumpkin and await the hour of Midnight on Halloween. The moment when you may find a bit of the mystery that is magic itself.

It is just a thought. Think about it. Happy Halloween!

First Harvest

8/1/2023

August 1st has long been celebrated by many cultures as the Lughnassadh, or The First Harvest. The Ancient Celts celebrated three great harvests: that of Lughnassadh on August 1st, Mabon on or about the Fall Equinox on September 20th/21st, and Samhain beginning the evening of October 31st and going into the 1st of November.

The first harvest, Lughnassadh was named after the ancient God Lugh, the Celtic God of the Sun and Light and Life, who represents the sacrifice made so that the crops can both nurture man and be reborn again in the following year. Also known as Lammas Day in many cultures today, the harvest is celebrated by baking loaves of bread which contain the harvested sprouted grains of the fields. There are many associated rituals performed, homes are decorated with the bounty of the fields and feasts prepared, and the bounty of the fields are enjoyed by all.

The key meanings to this first harvest are gratitude and acknowledgment of the great wheel of life continuing to turn, for it will shortly be Fall and the second harvest Mabon will fall on or about the fall equinox which will in turn, lead to the final harvest that the modern world celebrates as Halloween.

My mother used to decorate the house with fall leaves around this time of year, and I have friends today who race to begin getting their Halloween decorations up by the first day of September. Which is usually when the trees begin to shed their brilliant-colored leaves and decorating with the readily available gifts of nature is as simple as taking a walk by the woods. And my mother would have us make a list of things that we were grateful for about the same time. So as traditions go, it seems the ancient ones still effect future generations.

I make sure that on Lughnasadh, or Lammas that I serve bread with the ‘feast’ meal (usually my dinner) and acknowledge the blessings of food on the table and the continuity of traditions of all the modern tribes of mankind. And I will again make a list of what I am grateful for and give thanks by way of my prayers and pay if forward by creating a place in my yard filled with birdseed for the fliers and fresh veggies for the bunnies and other critters roaming the yard here and there.

Traditions are important as they are part of how we acknowledge the cycles in our lives, and this is one of many that I have adopted in my later years to honor my connection with those of family I now call my ancestors. And a good portion of my genetic makeup is Irish. This day is a celebrated holiday in Ireland.

From my hearth to yours, may this season bring you all the fruits of the fields and may your table always contain the breads of life…

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