For me Samhain is a very special time of year. I look forward to it in the way many youngsters look forward to Christmas. We usually have a ritual followed by a party, sharing the time with family and friends. This year will be different. COVID 19 restrictions will not allow the type of celebration that we normally have.
Birmingham lockdown rules say that I cannot welcome friends nor family I don’t live with into my home. National rules for England say I cannot meet in a group of more than 6 outdoors either. Add to that I am self-isolating, unable to leave the house. I was contacted by NHS trace and test to inform me that on one of my seldom forays into the big wide world I managed to come into a problematic contact with someone who had COVID. I am not complaining about the rules. I fully understand the need for them, but it certainly makes for a lonely Samhain this year.
I suspect some people reading this will think I’m making a fuss. I know of solitary practitioners who prefer to celebrate on their own. I know of people who would like to share the season but are unable to participate for one reason or another. Yet for me this is a new experience, so it has made me think deeply about Samhain, and what seems appropriate for this new situation.
This dedicated time to honour and remember those who have gone before is a poignant occasion. This year it will be more so than usual, as my husband now counts among those who have gone before, having passed away in November last year, four days after Samhain. I will lay a memento of him on my altar and light a candle for him.
This time of year brims with loss and death. All around us we see the world changing, leaves falling, bare trees, plants dying. We face the time of darkness and with it can come fear, the primeval fear of surviving the dark times but also the introspection as we leave the warm days of summer behind and spend more time indoors. I intend to do a stock take at Samhain, have a good look at what I’ve achieved this year so far, and what has fell off my list. I will take a look at the things that I am fearful of, things that are holding me back. I will make use of the time on my own to delve into my inner world, recording my thoughts and meanderings, so I can read them again over the coming year, keep them fresh in my mind.
I shall decorate my window. I have done this for many years now, using black card and coloured tissue to create a picture. A light behind this makes the image stand out in the night, for neighbours and passers-by to see. They can’t be calling to the door this year, but they will see I haven’t forgotten.
I will make good use of this magical modern technology that allows us to be with people even when we aren’t: an online sharing of Samhain with friends from moot.
As Samhain is after all a harvest, I will treat myself to a special meal. I’m still working on the menu. I’m spoilt for choice, and I acknowledge how fortunate I am to be in that position when so many people aren’t. If you are celebrating Samhain, I wish you a peaceful and precious time.
Written by Portland Jones, PF Disabilities Liaison for the West Midlands