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Monday, October 29, 2012

Thoughts on the veil between worlds

Harvest time extends its withered leavings and winter wolves are at the door. If, from the corner of your heart, you sense a different, colder light, you're not alone. It's almost Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, Dead Time. 

Most cultures seem to mark -- through ritual or celebration-- the hour when the world of the dead encroaches on the living world. Bears lumber past the shades of mastodons as they seek their caves. Bees slump into deathlike slumber and our human bones dance a lively jig beneath our slack skin.

What do we do when we sense this sepulchral nearness? Stoke the flames and seek the fire's warmth? Mock the spirits with our seasonal disguises? Read more into the black cat's glass-green gaze than the cat ever intended?  Yes. But more than that, we revel -- leap around the fire, paint our faces white and tell the tales that curdle blood, for that blood still runs. We are still alive.

Those we've loved and lost inch closer now, but we have not yet joined them. No matter that we die a little more each day, we also breathe, "Not yet, not yet."

Ubi Sunt motif 
ere in the year of fathers passing
in the month sweet-all must fade
dim days drain down their measured courses
and the birds rise up like leaves
When in the land that is always shadow
Last moments rise and fade
Bones rattle bleak in the windfall nightscape
While the darkling sun dreams the east 

From the light when birds sing sursum corda 
 Till we dance in the yew-tree night 
With brothers still and silent sisters
We will dream of our mother's bony arms

 Mary Chase 
[1] Ubi sunt motif (Latin, "Where are....?"): A literary motif dealing with the transience of life. The name comes from a longer Latin phrase, "Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerent?" [Where are those who were before us?], a phrase that begins several medieval poems in Latin.[2] Sursum corda (Latin: "Lift up your hearts"); part of the Catholic mass.

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