Samhain – a time to rejoice and time to remember

I may have mentioned – I often do – that I love Samhain and this time of the year. The whole atmosphere around us changes. If I had to choose a season, it would be the dark times. Summer is pleasant, but it doesn’t inspire me.

The racing wind and driving rain like we had this weekend fill me with energy. You will find me staring out of my window, watching clouds chase each other across the sky, watching rivulets of water gathering into puddles. The moon calls to me, when she peeks through the cloud ridden night sky. Even November fog brings an air of mystery.

To gather with friends and family to celebrate Samhain is a joy. Yet this makes me wonder. Is it right to feel so happy when we are commemorating those we have lost? I feel uncomfortable wishing people happy Samhain. It shouldn’t be happy should it?

This Samhain brought home to me why it is ok to be happy at Samhain.

We set a table to hold things to remind us of the family we have lost. My father made me a brooch in the shape of a spider with eight wire legs, and yellow and purple glass for its body. That sat comfortably on the table. My mother’s silver earrings sat next to it. The eternity ring my husband gave me lay next to them, followed by a piece of amber on a silver chain, a present from my sister.

Yet I didn’t think of them with sadness. Neither did the people with me. We talked about this. We all felt the same. Samhain gives a time for remembering people without the grief that can well up inside us, catch us unaware when we are least expecting it.

We see our place in the ever-continuing cycle. We are remembering those who have gone before, but not just the recently passed. It is everyone who has lived, who have in some way or another had an effect on the way we live today. They have shaped our world. Their lives have been necessary, as have their deaths, but this is not frightening, it is the way of the natural world.

Death is painful in many ways, as you experience not just the trauma of losing someone, but also the need to come to terms with your life without them. In my experience it is more painful losing someone before their expected time than letting go of someone who has reached an age where we accept their time has come. Yet in the wider world, when we can take that step away from grief, it is as it should be; it’s how the world moves forward.

I hope that in some small way how I live and act – my life – will have an impact, leaving something wholesome, when I pass: that I will leave a positive mark to help shape the world for the people I leave behind.

Portland Jones, Pagan Federation Disabilities Liaison for the Midlands