BANALITY, or: Abandoned by Angels

I lay my head down
in the boneyard of relatives
to feed Aunt Bea’s chickens.
Over in the corner
in the shade of Grandpa’s old pear tree
my mother lays among buzzing yellow jackets
feasting upon apples scattered in decay.

Momma pushes away all of her children,
those of us still alive;
screams for us to grow up;
demands we stop listening to the news;
shouts we better hunt us up
some animals for breakfast.

Desperately she lifts tattered, dirty burlap,
shoves small bones ragged with chunks of meat
into her vagina as she mourns and grieves
the deaths of three babies
from dirty, unwashed hands.

I glance up and see Aunt Bea peeking down
thru broken shutter slats guarding old attic windows.
She won’t come down;
expects us to visit her instead.
We do not dare, of course.

Aunt Bea is hungry beyond pain,
yet she avoids the bone yard where
her sister screeches
in the shade of serpent grief.

She pushes notes at us
from under her door,
notes so raw her letters leave us
wet with terror.

Aunt Bea’s eye sees me as it always does,
quivers with relief as it watches my head twitch.
Her one enormous eye, wild, heavy, swivels “Yes!”
I stand up headless and walk away
as chickens cluck and peck at my face.

My old twin head Wilson, severed across the throat,
rolls in staggered jerks beneath
swarming hens, roosters, and slaps of Momma’s shoe.
I’d once saved Wilson’s life from drowning.
My twin washed up on Absinthe Beach north of Yurka
five years after vanishing off Nikumaroro.

I return to the shed to cook down
p-ephedrine with hydroiodic acid,
red phosphorous, iodine, and lye.
Daddy slouches naked in the shadows
among broken antique furniture once
slathered in now faded yellow, green,
red, purple Dutch Boy lead paint.

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Headless Sally

Ghost Hunting amid the Echoes of Tragedy and Carnage at Saylor’s Creek

Midnight came and went across the woods and fields of a 118-year old Civil War battlefield. With a firm grip on powerful flashlights turned off, we crept along the edge of the bridge and peered downstream into the darkness for ghosts. Well, for a specific ghost in particular, a ghost named Headless Sally. The three of us stood there in the dark feeling stupid and scared all at once. It was cold, too, down there in the damp mini-valley of Saylor’s Creek. A full moon hung in the sky casting shadows through trees and thickets leafless in Winter.

Earlier during the day we had agreed to hunt for Headless Sally under a full moon in a relatively clear and calm night sky. Luna draws out the madness in people, draws out mindless ghosts questing about on soulless autopilot, the objects of long-faded desires lost to spiritual dementia. And here we were, three Witches of Silverwood, leaning over the bridge railing facing downstream looking for the ghost of a floating head or perhaps her headless torso. We were confident of our abilities to protect ourselves against harmful or mischievous spirit entities. Besides, we figured after midnight on a cold weeknight there would be far less traffic on a lonely country road to disturb our focus than earlier in the day or on a weekend.

We have visited with ghosts nearby at the Hillsman Farmhouse at the epicenter of the Battle of Saylor’s Creek. Fought on Thursday 6 April 1865, as heavy rains fell and the creek rose, the fields, woods, creeks, and farms were the scene of a ferocious and savage three-part battle between Confederates and Federals. American Civil War combat was often at close quarters with severe injuries from up-close discharges of firearms and artillery as well as hand-to-hand fighting.

The Hillsman home was occupied by the Federals and used as a battlefield hospital. The family and servants there were forced downstairs into the basement, but afterwards helped dig mass graves for the dead. I don’t know if the “servants” were Black slaves, lowly-paid Whites, or White indentured servants. Indentured servants as an institution, shockingly enough, endured in the U.S.A. until 1917, long after slavery itself was legally abolished. Few narratives from Civil War battles more than mentioned the presence of slaves as if they were a bothersome afterthought.

The medical staff operated on screaming Union and Confederate wounded without question. Stories were told of so many amputations deemed necessary as the gory battle unfolded, the pile of severed limbs and body parts tossed out the windows reached up to the windowsills. Soft lead Minié ball bullets tore large holes through soft tissue and shattered bones. Cannons firing loaded canisters bursting with lead and iron balls packed in sawdust mowed down troops on both sides.

Sanitation was unknown, and this lack of hygiene helped generate severe rates of infections such as gangrene. Doctors and nurses, including surgeons, may care for their patients and feel passionate for their professions, yes. Their knowledge and technologies, unfortunately, were surprisingly Medieval during what many historians consider the first Modern, Industrial Age war. No wonder so many ghosts haunted the area. Sally, however, didn’t die in the war.

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The Lost Creek Monster

Did a Sasquatch tear up the woods between two Virginia farms?

The mystery of this strange event has never been solved. Recent scientific discoveries and claims, however, may provide the inquisitive with clues.

It’s springtime in Virginia. The year is either 1967 or 1968, and possibly as late as 1972. My memory of time and dates from long-ago events are a little hazy these days. Not the incidents and sequences of events, however long ago they occurred. These events are crystal clear in the “documentary film” of my memories.

A giant and mysterious beast went berserk in the woods shared by two intermarried family farms. The destruction was extensive and required immediate repair. We farmers kept our herds of cows and heifers separate to prevent them from getting all mixed up. Both farms had planned to turn loose their herds into adjacent fields separated by the fences along Lost Creek. Compounding the mystery was odd feeling the destruction appeared to be far more playful than malicious. Or perhaps it was a warning?

Maybe there was more than one entity. Perhaps a small family of these unknown monsters was responsible for the bizarre rampage. At the time people, adults as well as us kids, thought a tornado was the most likely culprit even if a tornado made no sense at all as there were no storms. So we imagined a giant, troll-like creature and named it the Lost Creek Monster. We certainly hoped if there really was such a beast there was only one at most. Feeling a bit superstitious, we nonetheless prayed the monster would leave us alone. Especially if it was the Devil. But we were just as afraid of God.

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Out of My Body and Across the Sea

Once I had an OBE, an Out-of-Body-Experience, and flew across the sea. There were a few times I am certain I had other OBEs, one bordering on a NDE or Near-Death Experience. This particular OBE had one significant difference, though, that distinguished it from all the others. As of March 2013, this event remains the only time I managed to intentionally astral travel. All of my other OBEs were unintentional and spontaneous. This particular astral journey was startling in its clarity. I remember it vividly many years later as if it happened yesterday.

During my time as a Wiccan, I was exposed to a number of practices and paranormal phenomena at odds with mainstream orthodox science. Among these were strange “things” called astral projection, astral travel, or out-of-body experiences. They are different terms for the same phenomena. One could dismiss such things as magical thinking, a level of psycho-spiritual and socio-cultural evolutionary development considered inferior. Magical thinking is a cluster of different religious and psychological belief systems wrapped up in elements of what many deride as “superstition.”

The one primary distinction shared within this cluster is the idea thinking certain thoughts either intentionally or unintentionally generates actions and events in the outer or “real” world of matter and energy. Research into psychic phenomena and brain waves demonstrate the power of focused mental energy to affect change in the environment beyond the body. Meditation, prayer, casting spells, calling down old Deities, and focused ESP represent different examples of focused mental power.

There is still much to learn regarding the mysteries of consciousness. The experience of Afterlife beings raises questions about definitions of life, especially beyond biological death. None of this mattered to those who feared for my soul, however, as they were sure these “things” were real. My Fundamentalist Christian friends and a few family members swore I was deluded by the Devil and flying straight down into Hell.

One afternoon, however, regardless of Heaven or Hell or the Levels In Between, I faced my fears and deliberately left my body for what proved to be an exciting adventure.

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Doppelganger Among the Cows

Once I saw a doppelganger, although I wasn’t aware of it until the next day. This mysterious event still baffles my mind. Strange and still unresolved questions were raised for which “hoax” would be the easiest yet least likely answer. There are questions regarding the possibility for the bilocation of matter, especially biological organisms, at high levels of material cohesion. Can a person split themselves at will or unconsciously? Other questions provoke inquiries into the evidence consciousness extends beyond our living bodyminds as well as continues, at least for a while, after death. One may speculate as well upon the spiritual ramifications of doppelgangers.

I was not the only witness that warm, sunny afternoon. First, however, what is a doppelganger? Yeah, what the heck is that? And is it dangerous? There’s no way this was a hoax. Well, a hoax is highly unlikely. I’ll explain why further down in this article.

Doppelgangers have existed in myths and legends since Ancient Times. I’d never given the phenomena much attention or credibility prior to this event. Yet my wife and I and others witnessed a doppelganger. Later that afternoon, one man even worked unknowingly alongside this doppelganger. When the man discovered he had done so, he freaked out and prayed feverishly to God so he wouldn’t be snatched up by the Devil and flung down into the fires and stench of Hell.

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Valentine’s Lupercalia and the Death of Love at the End of the World

LOVE

LOVE IS.

LOVE IS LIFE.

LOVE IS POWER.

LOVE IS DIVINE.

is god love ? is love god ? and goddess ?

or is love merely a human attribute projected upon an imagined image of deity ?

 If indeed God is Love and Love is God, can Love love?

We humans make messes of Love.

Such as celebrating our lust as things fall apart.

Ancient Pagan Festival of Lupercalia

Saint Valentine’s Day

Blood and Life

Birth and Death

One Love

Many People

Valentine’s Day

Armageddon of the Heart

Bereft of a Lover, she reads alone in the chill of February. It is the only way she knows to escape from her pain without dulling her soul.

Bereft of a Lover, she reads alone in the chill of February. It is the only way she knows to escape from her pain without dulling her soul.

Ruins of Ancient, Postmodern Lupercalian Sex Machines too broken down to fuck this lovely Valentine's Day Night.

Ruins of Ancient, Postmodern Lupercalian Sex Machines too broken down to fuck this lovely Valentine’s Day Night.

The air changes all who breathe. Breathing changes love. It all changes you. Air is life. Air is death. Breathing fuels every cell to live. Gaia yearns for Cernunnos to merge and spawn. Goddess gives birth to more Gods who work with Prometheus to mold our flesh deep in the ovens of the Holy Sun. Soul cleaves with Spirit to penetrate matter. Life blossoms from energy and emerges across the Universe. Enchanted with life, Sophia birthed forth Demiurge. Ignorant, isolated, and bereft of LOVE, he grew increasingly malevolent. Demiurge thundered forth to create his universe of worlds and battled the Higher God of Love and Creation for domination of the Earth. Humans were terrified, confused, and forced into believing Demiurge was the only God to worship. Sophia was forgotten along with Gaia and every other Goddess. The entire Universe screamed in protest, a scream we still hear as we listen to the electromagnetic shrieking of Matter across time and space. A most wicked and capricious Demiurge tormented all his creations as he raged and cried out for and against a Mother he hasn't known since birth. Demiurge set himself up on a giant throne to toy with and destroy bit by bit his own creations and smeared all others Divine as of the Devil. As the true Shaitan, Demiurge hid the truth from men and from women of his hideous yet powerful Imposition. Only Love will transform this Devil God, and it must be Love wrapped in kindness and compassion backed by the strength of billions of strong, resilient spines.

The air changes all who breathe. Breathing changes love. It all changes you. Air is life. Air is death. Breathing fuels every cell to live. Gaia yearns for Cernunnos to merge and spawn. Goddess gives birth to more Gods who work with Prometheus to mold our flesh deep in the ovens of the Holy Sun. Soul cleaves with Spirit to penetrate matter. Life blossoms from energy and emerges across the Universe. Enchanted with life, Sophia birthed forth Demiurge. Ignorant, isolated, and bereft of LOVE, he grew increasingly malevolent. Demiurge thundered forth to create his universe of worlds and battled the Higher God of Love and Creation for domination of the Earth. Humans were terrified, confused, and forced into believing Demiurge was the only God to worship. Sophia was forgotten along with Gaia and every other Goddess. The entire Universe screamed in protest, a scream we still hear as we listen to the electromagnetic shrieking of Matter across time and space. A most wicked and capricious Demiurge tormented all his creations as he raged and cried out for and against a Mother he hasn’t known since birth. Demiurge set himself up on a giant throne to toy with and destroy bit by bit his own creations and smeared all others Divine as of the Devil. As the true Shaitan, Demiurge hid the truth from men and from women of his hideous yet powerful Imposition. Only Love will transform this Devil God, and it must be Love wrapped in kindness and compassion backed by the strength of billions of strong, resilient spines.

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Goat-Headed Devil in a Black Tuxedo

Ancient image of Cernunnos on the silver Gundestrop Cauldron created by Celtic craftsmen during the European Iron Age. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Ancient image of Cernunnos on the silver Gundestrop Cauldron created by Celtic craftsmen during the European Iron Age. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A Modern image of the Horned God of the Wiccans dispayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the UK. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A Modern image of the Horned God of the Wiccans dispayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the UK. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

 

What transpired is true and cannot be proven.

Once upon a time in the deep dark of night my first wife Margaret and I walked in the door of our home and saw a goat-headed devil sitting in the chair watching us with his legs crossed and his hands in his lap. Scared the bejesus out of us, too. We didn’t know what in Hell this creature was other than it was male. He certainly challenged our religious, psycho-spiritual, and cultural upbringing.

Thick, smoky fog oozed through the woods and draped the open fields. Down the hill beyond the bluffs snaked Big and Little Sandy Rivers. It wasn’t too cold, but the damp chill made the fog drip with hypothermia. Margaret and I arrived home close to midnight. We’d been out at a gathering celebrating Goddess and God with the other Witches of Silverwood Circle. Our group was a Neo-Pagan Celtic Wiccan coven in Prince Edward County, Virginia.

My wife, well, she was my first wife, was the Inner Flamenca or High Priestess of Silverwood. Our close friend, Paul, was the Inner Flamen or High Priest. We preferred “Inner” instead of  “High” to promote ideas of going deep into the mysteries rather than someone being superior above others. The terms “flamen” and “flamenca” derived from Latin words for Roman priests and priestesses responsible for the sacred flames of Gods and Goddesses. They’re not as common in Wiccan usage these days, but some Celtic Wiccans preferred the Roman words to distinguish themselves from Neo-Celtic Druids.

The closer we approached our home the colder and clammier everything seemed. We felt open psychically, perhaps too much so, for we had relatively little training in the arts of psychic and spiritual self-defense. We were beginning to encounter spiritual entities for which we were unprepared to meet.

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Ghosts and Hauntings at the Old Bass Family Farmhouse

 

Old Bass Family Farmhouse on a visit to Virginia from Seattle, December 2005. Foto by William Bass.

Old Bass Family Farmhouse on a visit to Virginia from Seattle, December 2005. Foto by William Bass.

A ghost, yes, an invisible ghost, scared me nearly all to pieces once upon a time back when I was a little kid. I was young, so you can laugh if you wanna, but I was well read and smart, too for being such a squirt. The way that ol’ ghost stomped down the hallway of an old farmhouse in my direction freaked me out. Made my big Frankenstein hearing aid SCREAM. I could hear this ghost, too. I could feel it, feel both the vibrations of the stomps and the cold blob of air moving along with it.

I was a young boy back in the mid-to-late1960s sometime. I don’t remember how many years old I was or what grade I attended in school. What I do recall, however, was the weather. It was Summertime. Lush, green Summertime! It must’ve been between grades. I reckon I was in late elementary school or maybe even early middle. Not sure. But it was Summer that I know. And a ghost scared the bedoobus outa my insides. This true story began late one afternoon.

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Willy Ain’t Got No Brains

Lookit that damn fool Willy standin’ there under the giant ass end of General Robert E. Lee’s monstrous horse waving the axed-off head of a rooster up in the air for all the world to see. Scaring all of Richmond, Virginia down into the James River and out to sea. Folks driving down Monument Avenue jump up outa their seats, point like little kids, and almost wreck their cars going the wrong way down North Allen. By the time they popped outa their trance they laid on the horn and shout everything but hymns. Willy didn’t care one wit. He’d already seen the beginning of civilization and the end of the world. And so he scattered droplets of blood everywhere while dancing 65-70 some feet below the end of a bronze horse.

Red against the pale granite of the monument base was a large, square cloth. It was half as big as a picnic table and more crimson than a pool of fresh slaughterhouse blood in sunlight. Rocks held down the corners and the sides, rough chunks of granite and quartz dug out of red Virginia clay. Crushed slices of silvery-glass mica and yellow fool’s gold lay scattered across the square of the cloth. In the center, bound up in orange red twine, was a headless rooster with his chest cut open. Off to the side was a fifth of whiskey. Good whiskey, too. Not great liquor, but souvenir spirits. A black and tan bottle of 1964 George Dickle Tennessee Whisky strapped with a worn leather choker. With a file-sharpened felling axe layin’ right up next to it. There was, however, not a candle in sight.

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Running Towards the Quiet Roar of the Dharma

I felt swallowed by suffering into the giant maw of a monstrous lion. Over the past few years I’ve lost almost everything but life, and even that was in question at times. In the midst of such suffering I learned to run towards the roar, the roaring of lions mute with fear and rage and cravings. I had to learn to do so or else the Grim Reaper would hug me with his scythe. I learned to run towards the quiet roar, the quiet ROAR of the Dharma, to stay present to the miracle of my life.

An unusual compression of numerous losses traumatized me more than I would like to admit. I even ended up semi-homeless for two months and staying with friends for a few more. I say “semi-homeless” because I lived out of a tent pitched back in the bushes behind three enormous woodpiles and a Native American sweat lodge with access to the facilities of a nearby house. All in the middle of urban North Seattle. In each moment I was awake I ran and sometimes stumbled towards that quiet roar, that quiet ROAR of the Dharma.

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Inner Shifts of Being

Sunset from the bluffs while gazing across the Sound toward the Olympics. Richmond Beach Park, Shoreline, Washington, Sunday 23 September 2012. Foto by William Dudley Bass.

Sunset from the bluffs while gazing across the Sound toward the Olympics. Richmond Beach Park, Shoreline, Washington, Sunday 23 September 2012. Foto by William Dudley Bass.

Something has shifted in me recently. What has shifted is I’ve lost my taste to speak harshly of others.

During the unexpected challenges of recent years I almost crumbled. The past few months were particularly difficult emotionally and financially. I could’ve sunk deeper into cynicism and bitterness and wallowed in apathy and self-pity. Instead I found the strength and the courage to pivot into a field where there are no paths. My life was my own to choose. My life was mine to live.

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Gabriel Requests Your Surrender to The One

Magnificent Gabriel came down upon the earth, folded back his wings, & clambered up into the cave above Mecca to recite the words of Allah to an illiterate merchant. Muhammad, PBUH, chose to listen in spite of his fear…to listen as if he had elephant ears…cuz he knew to be The Last Prophet of the Axial Age he had to do more than just hear so never mind the wind and rain the heat and cold the searing pain…till finally Gabriel relaxed his grasp and Muhammad, PBUP, as the great angel exhaled he the prophet inhaled, inhaled the sacred exhale of Gabriel, inhaled the Recitation, breathed to life the Qur’an, and then out across the deserts he walked and he rode, laying the foundations of the worldwide Umma, and history was never the same again. Surrender to God as freedom, not enslavement, was the greatest gift of submission. Oft misunderstood as enslavement, and still misunderstood as submitting to something way out there, while within, The Lord of all the Worlds, The ONE beyond all Gender even beyond all Attributes awaits thy ultimate surrender, inshallah. Amen.

 

(Prose Poem inspired by “Gabriel Secret,” prose poetry by Prezz Pressley posted on 6 July 2011 in the Facebook Group “MEN who r NOT AFRAID 2 CRY,” and inspired by my own studies of Islam and a late-night-just-before-dawn mystical experience of Allah.)

William Dudley Bass
7 July 2011
30 March 2012
Seattle, Washington

From my Mythic Awakening period.

NOTE: This prose poem originally appeared on my earliest blog, Cultivate and Harvest, on Friday 8 July 2011, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2011/07/gabriel-requests-your-surrender-to-one.html, then revised and reposted here on my new website this late March of 2012. Thank you.

Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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Spirit & Soul as Apocalypse Approaches

Inspired Notes from Working with Michael Meade

“Forget the Enlightenment,” Michael Meade said as he came out swinging. “We’ve now entered into an Age of Endarkenment.”

In early November of 2009 I visited Port Townsend with my friend Michael Scott Brooks, called Scott by those who know him, to hear Michael Meade. Port Townsend is a beautiful place, a progressive town where liberals thrive amid isolation. It’s at the tip of a peninsula on a peninsula and a ferry ride followed by a long drive from Seattle even though as the crow flies it’s fairly close by. The waters of the Salish Sea surround it with views to mountains all around. Olympic National Park squats in massive diversity behind a veil of hills. The workshops were held in the local Unitarian Universalist church, itself a bastion of self-proclaimed “liberal religion.”

Scott’s a friend of mine who facilitates Men’s Work in the mythopoetic vein of Robert Bly and Michael Meade. Although not as well known as they are, he’s an amazing man in his own right, a survivor who transcended deep trauma, and is still in training. Scott’s a master of ritual and an intuitive healer who brooks no nonsense. He cuts through bullshit with rigorous lovingkindness in a way I’ve seen very few people do. As I’ve written before, Scott transcends the boxes many contemporary Men’s groups try to put us into. Instead, he grounds himself in the timeless wisdom of indigenous human beings.

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Over Meditated

After four days away in the woods of Cloud Mountain, a Buddhist meditation retreat center down near Mt. St. Helens, Washington, I’m back in the Emerald City of Seattle surfing traffic in my four-wheeled kayak. With fiercely serene contemplation my breath guides me to all the sweet spots between grinding dump trucks and vrooming sports cars and teeth-gnashing morons, oops, excuse me, peoplyps, wow, post-meditation Freudian malapropism there smashing together people and polyps! Oops, back to the breath. Breathing in, breathing out. Good thing we worked with our nasal orifices and not any others. Indeed.

During the retreat, we focused on Samatha or Concentration and Tranquility Meditation with Jhana practices. Samatha is “the other twin” to Vipassana, or Insight Meditation, and is little known in North America. It’s beginning to take root, however, as it is rediscovered by many practitioners. My two teachers, Tina Rasmussen, a former nun, and Stephen Snyder, had immersed themselves deeply in these Samatha practices. They mentored under a rare master, the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw of Myanmar/Burma.

After studying and practicing Vipassana in Seattle for two years it proved to be the missing link. For the two middle days I spent at least nine to ten hours in sitting meditation, or attempting to, and the rest of my time awake meditating while walking, eating, and during tasks such as brushing my teeth or working as one of two “soup yogis.”

As part of trading work for money to get myself into the course, I set up and maneuvered giant soup contraptions for the cook. It wasn’t hard, especially as a tiny woman with a head-spinning mane of hair who once spent five years as a bald nun on a silent Zen meditation retreat handled those big soup gamdoodles even faster than I did.

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Dancing at the Gates of the Underworld

“Celebrating the 13th Mortiversary of the best man I’ve ever known,” leapt from the glowing blue and white screen a few days before Halloween. The author was a gorgeous and stunning enigma who turned heads whenever she strode into a room, or in my case, a tipi during an all-night Native American prayer meeting. “Mortiversary?” I wondered in awe. “Oh, he’s dead!”

Then I felt the glow of shame for not getting it right away at my friend’s expense. Here was a woman honoring the life of a man who once moved her deeply by celebrating his death. From beyond the veils between worlds he continued to move and inspire her. In allowing her self to feel so moved she inspired me and my heart opened to the pain and the sadness and even the magnificence of death.

As storyteller and mythologist Michael Meade said about two years ago on a blustery November night in Port Townsend, “Welcome to the Endarkenment.” He felt the world has energetically moved away from a period of awakening, enlightenment, even bliss into a period of darkness and turmoil and chaos. It wasn’t all bad, either. Such dark times are often the cauldron of creativity and transformation. Our spirits fly away leaving our souls burrowing into dirt and filth, transforming both into rich soil.

It was Samhain, the Celtic New Year, All Hallows Eve 2011. This year it fell across a three-day weekend with October 31st falling upon a Monday with two more dark holy days following. Samhain (usually pronounced as ‘sow-win’), Feralia, Pomona, Halloween, Hallowmas and All Soul’s, Dia de los Muertas … it’s that time of the year to really celebrate Summer’s End and herald in the Endarkenment. I love how they mix and blend together like the blood and genes in our Postmodern flesh.

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