BY JONI TAKANIKOS
Nov. 1, 2013
The veil between worlds drops away, to join gold and red carpets of oak and maple. We watch leaves descend, fly, spiral, blow far across our field to some other vista, or float gently down to land among their leafy brethren, laying in a collective pile at the foot of the tree, where they sprouted, unfurled and lived their seasons.
Perhaps their ending is why many Celts consider this time of Samhain (pronounced “saw when,”) from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, a marking of the end of the year, and the beginning of a new one.
In this liminal space, (“liminal” from the Latin “limens” meaning threshold), it is important to take stock of what has come before and what we wish our future to hold. While the branches are bare in winter’s sky, perhaps they will dream of their splendid leaves to come. But will they remember the leaves that adorned them through the past year, ever-changing to meet the clouds’ and the wind’s temperament, until they let go of the branch altogether?
During Samhain, people would dress up in “guise” or costume, and knock on their neighbors’ doors to offer up a verse or song.
Besides the departed souls, who come close during Samhain, it also believed that the sidhe (pronounced “shee”) or the faery folk, are also out and about dancing in the wind. So much about this time and season is about a stirring; we’re like leaves dancing before the great settling of winter inhabits our human bones.
Death is all around us now in nature. Even as we pluck the apples from the tree, we understand that death is part of the harvest. The apple lived while it stayed connected to the tree. Now it lives in us.
In the garden many plants are cut completely back to the ground, beginning their winter life in the underground. So this particular time of year, it is no great surprise to me that we remember the dead right alongside the living. We co- exist with those who have given us life, love, wisdom, pain, and the sweetness with which to remember that we inhabit a body that can taste the fall in the apple, dance in the leaves, lean into the rough bark of the great maple, and be grateful for each moment, good or bad. Many cultures of the world celebrate this time as a remembering of loved ones, who have “passed away,” as we often say. Like leaves.
Some go to cemeteries to clean, decorate, and either leave food or enjoy a meal for their departed one. Others might set an extra place at the table. Elaborate altars are dedicated to departed loved ones on the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, and include food, drink and other items that were enjoyed while they lived.
The Christian holiday, All Soul’s Day, also known as Commemoration of All Faithful Departed, is celebrated on Nov. 2.
In celebration of All Soul’s Eve a community event of remembrance will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. tonight as it is every year at the Langley Woodman Cemetery. Luminaries line the road, and visitors receive luminaries that they can place graveside or in an area for loved ones who are not buried in the cemetery. As the evening progresses, the cemetery fills with light.
But certainly any small prayer uttered during this time of the leaves in flight, must have special powers bestowed on it. Make a wish. Dream a little dream.
For more info about the All Soul’s Eve event at Woodman Cemetery, call 360-221-6046.
Poet, singer and performer Joni Takanikos is preparing for a winter of cozy, deep dreaming, music-making, writing and remembering.