This is always a powerful time of year for me. I often feel like I’ve gone insane with deep revelations that seem to penetrate my head. I can walk around in a daze for days, sometimes weeks.
I also feel my power grow at this time of year. Maybe that’s just me being a December child with my birthday and zodiac coming round, but I think it’s more than that. Living in the country feels like it gives me a tighter bond to nature. There is so much happening at this time of year, trees change color, leaves fall, sunlight and temperatures decrease their abundance – our part of Earth fades into sleep.
I’d like to say I had a plan, but I really didn’t. Our annual trip to New Orleans for Anba Dlo, Halloween and Day of the Dead fell apart. I suddenly was without a destination, not that that’s a bad thing. Without much planning at all, I hopped into the Red Barron and headed north.
I’ve had this idea about going to Nisswa since May. I can’t say Nisswa was sporting all the things one needs for a successful getaway, but I found a cheap, clean motel, a pizza joint (important source of vegetarian food), lots of open woods and miles of lakefront. After arriving and checking in, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I could hear the woods calling me and I definitely felt a pull to get away from all the people. After crucial rest and head clearing, I found a good cup of Joe and followed the pull.
Directionless But Not Motionless
The Barron took me down county, public and private roads. We found dead ends, public boat launches, lakes, streams and abundant settlements. We got lost, found our way again, never backtracking. We searched for woods, open space and no people. I’m respecting all the “No Trespassing” signs for two reasons: they are somebody’s land and it’s hunting season. Fools with guns are rampant. (Not everyone with a gun is a fool, but the reverse isn’t always true.) Plus it’s hard to enjoy a peaceful walk, think and reflect when shots are going off and deer are falling left, right and center around you.
A trail wound through the woods and along a stream. I found a cut-log bench to sit and mediate. The place was quiet, peaceful and had a great feeling. I spent the remainder of the day walking about 5 km worth of trails just getting my head together and trying to decipher why I was here.
Coming upon a lake I spied swimming beavers. Brightening my spirits considerably I could see their wooden condo built up on the shore. There must have been at least three I saw in the water. They looked to be having fun.
I turned and readied my walk back to the Barron when I spotted a set-back little grove, private and inviting. I parted my way to it and knew why I was here: I would do a ceremony tomorrow when I had both enough light and the right supplies.
The Haunted Cornfield
In town I kept driving by signs for a Haunted Corn Maze on Friday and Saturday night. Death itself couldn’t have kept me away from a Northern Minnesota maze through a haunted cornfield. For just $8, I had unlimited access to the maze, with all its loopbacks, figures with buzzing chainsaws, ghosts, ghouls, fog that stretched for miles, dirt, burlap and the chill of a crisp fall night. It perfectly suited my mood. I walked through four times.
After my previous walk through the woods, my head was still drifting between worlds. The twisting paths of chill, fog and atmosphere helped plant me the rest of the way. I became aligned between worlds.
On the day I would have been at Anba Dlo, I was 100 miles from home in the north woods. I toted a tropically colorful bag of goodies next to me. My day started with meditation. I cleared my head, walked to my spot and did my gig. Song and dance, prayer and offering, I did my bit in the woods when I normally would be making last minute arrangements in the New Orleans Healing Center. It felt right.
I’m not going to write much about this. If you have a chance to participate in ceremony, I encourage you to do so. Sorry, it was a moment between me and the woods. It was private, it was special.
After my little ceremony, I travelled home to pass the night with Saum. People don’t come to our house for Halloween, we’re set too far back from the road – there’s too much cost for the treat, not to mention a lack of young kids in the neighborhood.
We got very creative and carved some great pumpkins for Halloween. We’re usually out of town missing our annual carving frenzy. Darkening the room we had a wonderful evening together.
Saum kept asking why this only happens once a year. Do we have a ready source of pumpkins to carve year round? I don’t think so. After I created an inspiring skull pumpkin, she topped my work with a castle, tree and piked heads. How do you top piked heads?
You be the judge, I think hers wins hands down.
Day of the Dead
Monday brought the Day of the Dead. My day started while I was still asleep, with a dream. I was on a large wooden boat or a small ship, lying in a bed below deck next to one of my friends and a baby in my arms. Outside, we were near the peak of a mountain, a very steep, very rocky one with grass going down the slopes. It defied logic in many ways, the boat was floating near the top of the mountain, even though it went down and down. I’m not sure if I was seeing through the front wall or out a window. Scotland is the only place I’ve seen grass growing on such steepness. The rocks were large and jutting out of the green.
Saum was near the top with one of her friends, one we rarely see. I was worried she was going to fall off the mountain. I became terrified she was going to fall, the baby somehow now with her. She moved around so easily.
There was a cable running above the peak. I left the comfort of my bed, climbed to the front of the boat, reached for the cable and swung onto it. I knew I could help her, help the child. I swung forward with momentum, with force, with the breeze, whatever it was it propelled me forward. I swung and I now looked at the world upside down. Down was up, up was down, I looked up and saw down the mountain. I got vertigo. I was someplace else, beyond.
There’s so many ways to read into the dream. I’ve been told by someone I respect everyone in your dream is you. I’m currently dealing with my own childhood issues, I could have easily been the child I was caring for. The person next to me was posited to me as Gede, I myself felt Legba. Whoever he was, a doorway opened into another world. I leapt, grabbed hold and swung into that beyond.
I’ve been on the other side in dreams before, as if looking through a mirror at the world, everything where I came from reversed. That mirror image has stuck with me for years. This was different. This was the vertical axis of the crossroads and when I crossed into the other place, I found my world not reversed in that mirror image sense, but as if reality was reversed on the vertical, up was down, gravity was backwards, I looked in a very different way. The only real disturbing thing about this was the vertigo.
I’ve struck out in new ways into the beyond. Like writing about walking alone, this was the walk I was taking and it’s led me to some interesting places. I’m dealing with a lot right now, childhood pain, alcohol issues, abuse and other things throughout my life. I’m taking stock and trying to make sense of it all – and trying to heal. My ceremony in the north woods fed into this process, and I’m strung out on a wire, but this is good. It’s what I need.
I find myself at the end of the year, the harvest almost done. Winter is coming whether I’m ready or not. I’m happy that we’ve created so many celebrations in this part of the year, I need them as I grow older and get more connected to the Earth. Living in the country is a bitch sometimes, I feel the seasons more and it get’s a bit overwhelming at times. But the annual changes also bring more meaning, the celebrations, the festivals: Halloween/Samhain, Day of the Dead, Diwali, Christmas; I don’t care what the celebration or religion is, the fact we celebrate at this cold, dark time of year uplifts my spirits when I need it most.
The season changing, daylight savings ends and it gets dark so much earlier, emphasizing the time of year. My horseback riding days quickly are coming to an end. The snow will fall, making the ground clean again. If I wait long enough the bright neon green will break this season.
It all turns over and will come around again.