This year, Samhain might be quite different for many folks. As you celebrate summer’s end and the move into winter, please be safe, stay warm, and enjoy this time if you can. The full moon, a late hunter’s moon and a blue moon by one definition, is full of significance and wonder, so I will be hoping for a moment of clear skies to view it rather than the current (and to be fair seasonal!) torrential rain.
Waking Up Sick
Every sniffle and cough is the same:
“Is this it?
Have I caught it
Should I isolate?”
But until now,
Symptoms didn’t quite match
Today was different
My foible is
An over sensitive nose
Driving my guts to distraction
With the faintest hum
Overripe or rotten
I tried to pour the milk
It wouldn’t move
In lumps towards my tea
An ice cold avalanche of slow despair
How did I not smell that?!?
I tentatively sniff again
And only the barest echo
Of dairy destruction graces
My olfactory cavern
My cramping stomach
My aching bones
I could ignore
But this… this is new
A poker-hot stab of fear
Grinding its way
Into my guts.
But what can you do?
Site clicked, form filled, test booked.
Back to bed and away from the kids.
I’m not watering the plants
I’m reaching out into twilight
Touching the dusk
Not dusting; dusking
Swimming in impossible blue
Under the wary red eye
Silhouette trees a startling shadow play
Against spreading spilt ink
Dripping like the water
From my tiny vessel
Leaves shiver under my
I’m not watering the plants
I’m reaching into twilight
Diving my hands
Inside the oncoming night.
Don’t forget, I’ll be live on the Moon Books Facebook page tomorrow! I’m planning to read a little from my current books, talk a little about the themes in my upcoming book which include environmentally friendly paganism, and maybe even read a few of my poems.
I hope to see you there!
I often shout about Autumn Equinox as a time to pause and reflect; to soak up the reds and golds of the turning season and to sigh in the sun before it goes away.
This year, it feels a little condescending to do that. So many of us are struggling because of the current pandemic, either financially or emotionally, or sadly in many cases, physically due to ill health. I hope this equinox carries with it the energy you need to see you through your troubles, and hands to help where needed. May we be resilient during this turn of the wheel, but forgive ourselves and be kind to ourselves because there’s no precedent for this, and despite the cliché, it’s really okay to not be okay right now.
If all is well with you and yours, then that is joyous and long may it continue.
Here is a poem from last autumn about how my toddler manages her mood. It feels apt, although she’s older now and slightly more temperamental! Enjoy 🍁
Do you know a child who is a budding young poet? If they can write a poem on the subject of:
Then get them to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard or voice to Dictaphone!) and send it along to email@example.com
The poems will be collated into a unique volume of pagan poetry by children, which follows fairly hot on the heels of the first Pagan Federation Poetry Anthology published a few months ago. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a similar volume of kids’ poetry?
I used to roll my eyes at people who avoided the news. I saw it as a kind of “head in the sand” mentality. Refusing to accept facts. Living in a dream world.
Frankly, I was a bit of a tool about it.
Over the last decade, I came to realise that to function effectively, sometimes you have to set firm boundaries on the input you’re allowing into your life.
Over the past year, I realised that a constant stream of alarming information can sadly unbalance even the most positive of outlooks.
Over the last six months, I’ve learned that sometimes you have to put down any devices, step away from social media, and just breathe and be with the people or places or things that bring you happiness or peace.
I’m not advocating for ignorance. But it’s healthy to set boundaries and limit the gush of horror pouring out of the screen directly into your brain. It’s okay to say, “that’s enough now.”
Some days I’m just sick of feeling angry or scared or anxious. I don’t have a choice about the latter thanks to my mental health, but controlling the causes of the the former two helps manage it somewhat .
I’ve always felt it was vital to stay informed. To fact check and cross reference and be sure of what was real and what was propaganda. To gently point out when others were sharing old articles or actual falsehoods (usually without realising it themselves). I’m still dedicated to accuracy of information, but not to discovering it at the cost of mental health. When I realised it was regularly well after midnight and I was still trawling through figures, graphs, R numbers, facts about going back to school safely (of which there are very few actual facts indeed) with my mind buzzing like an angry hive, I knew it was time to take a break.
Don’t feel guilty if you have to take a break too.
Do you know what sucks most about other people’s attitudes towards mental health?
The assumption that because you can cope some of the time, you should be able to cope all of the time.
Today was a day off. I worked bloody hard all week and had some spanners thrown in from all over the place and felt weak and shabby. Despite weariness, I hit all my deadlines and had tons of fun with the kids. Yet I still felt that I should have been capable of more, should have achieved more, should have been more.
That, my friends, is the bullshit created from the expectations of others. The pressure to achieve, be productive, not let your illness get the better of you (insert rolling eyes emoji here).
Mental illness is debilitating. Long term mental illness comes in many shapes and forms, but many vary wildly in their severity from day to day or week to week with little rhyme or reason. My anxiety tells me shit is gonna get bad while my depression tells me there’s nothing I can do about it. I am helpless and worthless and living in disparity.
I know I’m not. I know I am enough. I know I am loved, and love. But mental illness (of some types) takes that knowledge away and replaces it with these dark feelings that feel like the overruling authority in your life.
I don’t have any startling insights here or any answers. Dealing with either anxiety or depression or similar is tough, it hurts, and can be even tougher during periods of isolation. I just want to raise awareness of how tough it can be, and that those who don’t understand or experience mental illness should be accepting and caring.
You don’t have to understand what someone is going through to be kind.
And just because someone can cope some of the time, doesn’t mean that they can cope all the time.
Wishing you all a wonderful first harvest weekend, whether you celebrate Lúnasa, Lammas or Yorkshire Day! All three have meaning for me, but Lúnasa is the festival I celebrate most. Click the link for a poem named for Samildánach, one of Lugh’s epithets.