Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Souls' Day

Late October and November, before the holiday frenzy, has become one of my favorite times of the year. After the leaves have fallen, the wood stoves have been fired, wood is gathered, pantries are filled and root cellars stuffed–it is a time of abundance and plenty and feeling secure. Yet I realize that many do not have full bellies or full larders and granaries. But it is as much a psychic and soul-filling, too. When the Earth starts its tilt away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, I can also feel myself begin to tilt inward, too. I used to fear this, to know the dark was coming and that with it would my mood change, sometimes perilously. Now I welcome this time of the year just as I am learning to better welcome each new phase of my life, each circumstance.

For some reason, be it a busy October (so busy I realize a month has passed without my even blogging!) or a wonder hormone creme (hey, I just turned 47 a few days ago and I plan to absolutely crow about this waning time of fertility, rather than to fear it), I've managed to still retain my gregarious nature that often emerges in the spring, unloosed again like Persephone.

I just had my own Persephone experience. Our 21-year old daughter visited for two weeks in the latter part of October, between the end of her summer job and start of her winter one, both at the same New England resort. We had so much fun and needed "girl time" (hens don't always qualify). But on Friday I had to send her back again to the world and this time around it was a more secure feeling in doing so. I admire her independence and resolve and sometimes feel as if I have forgotten my own–not hard to do as a wife and mother.

In the meantime, All Souls' Day (traditionally November 2nd) or All Saints' Day, November 1st, is a time that was always celebrated in the Episcopal church where I spent my formative years. It is a day when we honor those who have departed, also known as "The Day of the Dead" in Spanish-speaking countries (or "I Morti" in Italy). Halloween, in its ancient sense, is the day when the spirits of the dead are supposed to be wandering the Earth unbridled and the juxtaposition with a religious feast day on All Saints' is interesting.

So today I especially remember:

Louise Truslow Grummon, Robert Morgan Grummon, Daniel Neal Grummon, Joannna Grummon Dotchin, Harriet Manton Seiberling, James Penfield Seiberling, James Henry Seiberling, Mary Seiberling Chapman, Elizabeth Yates McGreal, Edith Sloane, Waty Taylor, Walter and Dorothy Grim, Bill and Martha Bradley, John and Elizabeth Sanderson, Shirley Davison and other dear friends and family who have passed on. [Also, beloved pets over the years, including most recently, Lucy and Patch.]


At this time of year I also begin a period of winter reflection, a time spent closer to hearth and home, freer time to write and think. I plan to use the next six months for so much "inner work," including more writing (and more regular blogging again, too). We have just enough winter here to feel tucked in and cozy on a raw day of rain, ice or a bit of flying snow. Our late Kentucky autumn foliage is enough of a pageant to feel fall-ish and then we are honored by an early spring that begins in March and is full blown in April. Then by May 1st, May Day, like Persephone and the emergent spring, I am ready to return from the underworld of my own psyche and live above ground for a while with the land of the living.

I've learned to embrace this time of year, this more inward time, rather than to fear it. I am glad to be a Halloween baby, too (even if I jumped it by two days). Just imagine the children's birthday parties I had! The ease of witch references! As much as I am spiritual and at home with much religious liturgy, I also embrace my inner (good) witch, too.

NOTE ON PAINTINGS: All Saints' Day (Le jour des mort) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1859) and two paintings of Persephone by Pre-Raphaelite painter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1874), and Thomas Hart Benton (1939).

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