Samhain is always a big time of year for me. This year has been no exception. Now that the old year has passed away and the new one is waiting to be born, I thought I’d share some of my latest reflections on the state of my life and the state of the world.
First of all, the small but beautiful Tradition that my Coven belongs to had a Samhain gathering this year. We only had 5-6 people in attendance, but since last Samhain passed without a Tradition gathering at all, I saw this as progress. We had quite a bit of chaos set in when it turned out that the venue we had reserved for our ritual and our dinner had been double booked! Even so, this scheduling snafu turned out for the best. It gave us the opportunity to hold our ritual at the house of one of our Coveners who had never hosted a group ritual in her home before. The ritual went very nicely, and everyone was happy to reconnect after a long time apart.
Since I’d spent the 26th and 27th observing the holiday spiritually, I decided to spend Samhain itself at a Halloween party with some of my friends. I feel very close to my friends, and having fun at parties with them is often a spiritual experience for me. So, I thought that a Halloween party would be a good way to watch the old year slip into the shadows.
At first, everything seemed to be going quite well. Unfortunately, though, some rather serious drama unfolded that turned the whole event into a surreal spectacle. I’d like to blame it on the thinning of the veil, or the presence of some mischievous spirits fiddling with our drunken minds… but really, it was just a rather mundane case of one or more individuals having too much alcohol and not enough common sense. We all survived the night, though, and I’m still friends with everyone involved, so I see it as a learning experience for everyone rather than anything more serious. I love my friends dearly, and I’m happy to stick with them through thick and thin.
Samhain is always strange, but this Samhain has seemed stranger than most. I know that some people who read this probably see “spiritual energy” as a bunch of hooey and just want me to get back to the politics… but I must say that I’m feeling a strong relationship between politics and spirituality right now.
According to my beliefs, and the beliefs of many others, the veil between physical reality and spiritual reality is at its thinnest during this time of year. With all of the leaves and the annual plants dying away, a lot of spiritual energy is moving right now. This is why many traditions take this time to honor dead ancestors — because the flow of energy between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its greatest.
But with each passing year, I feel that this “thinning of the veil” is being affected more and more by climate change. That may sound funny, even to people who believe in spiritual energy… but if the ecological reality that sparks the thinning has fallen into chaos, then why wouldn’t the thinning itself do the same? When I feel the cold rains on my skin, it feels like Samhain is here, and the old year is passing away… but then a day or two later, the temperature slingshots back up to the 60s or even 70s, and I feel like I’m back in September.
Southern Illinois has always had somewhat unstable weather — but with climate change creating further instability, the result is a very strange transition between seasons. And as someone whose spiritual life revolves around the change in seasons, I find this very disturbing.
In any case, I feel that for the most part, we’ve passed the turning point. Samhain has come and gone, and Yule awaits us in just a little over a month. What do I foresee for the new year, both in my life and in the world at large?
In my own life, I can already feel the energies shifting in preparation for a new and exciting year. Some of the changes will come soon, and some will come in the spring… but all of them will come, and all of them are worth sharing.
One major change is where I live. I’m a Taurus, and I like to stay put if I have any say in the matter. But for a variety of reasons, it seems I’ll be moving in the very near future. I’m sure I’ll be staying in Carbondale, so don’t worry about having me disappear entirely. But my life will be thrown into chaos as I resettle in a new location somewhere else in the city. There’s also a good chance that I’ll be securing a more “permanent” living space in the coming year, but I don’t know if that will happen in the near future or sometime next Fall.
Another major change lies in my career. I’ve decided that I’ve come to live in this place, at this time, with these people, for a reason — and that reason does not revolve around stocking the shelves of a grocery store. The Neighborhood Co-op Grocery has been my bread and butter for over three years now, and I still feel that it’s the best retail job I’ve come across in Carbondale. Retail work, however, is not where my heart lies. Therefore, effective immediately, I’ll be resuming work on my career as an author, public speaker, and community organizer. I’ll also be resuming work on a side project with a friend that may or may not lead to income. Of course, I’ll still be with the Co-op indefinitely as I sort out the details of getting my career up and running. However, one of my goals for next Samhain is to have all of my income coming from my “revolutionary projects” rather than my day job at the Co-op.
This is a huge goal. In an economic arena like Southern Illinois, where people can often barely scrape by on retail work, it’s a daunting task to attempt to secure my economic survival through “unconventional” means. But really, that’s what it’s going to take to reach my goals in life, and that’s what it’ll take to create positive change in Carbondale, in Southern Illinois, and beyond.
The trick, as I see it, is to create social and economic projects which are readily achievable in the current setting, yet also serve to enhance and transform that setting. A “pie in the sky” approach to social and economic development doesn’t create change because it doesn’t work in the here and now — and a “conventional” approach doesn’t create change because it continues the same unfortunate trends that have lead to social and economic depression in the first place. Therefore, if our goal is to create social, economic, and ecological abundance in our community and region, we must come up with “innovative” solutions. These are solutions that take the resources we already have on the ground in Southern Illinois and use them in new ways to create economic abundance and positive social change.
I’m working on a few projects that I feel will fit into the “innovative” category. I’ll have more news on these soon. In the meantime, I’m off to take care of a few chores so that I’ll be ready for the big Veggie Thanksgiving dinner at the Interfaith Center tonight. Ahh, yummy food and yummy community connections…