Samhain - Hallowe'en Festival 2013
How will you die?
“Death is a gentle and equisite lover. With one kiss, he can steal your soul and lay your flesh aside, like an empty dress
Leilah Wendell “The Complete Books of Azreal – Conversations With the Angel of Death
My own lover asked me this week, “How will you die?”. Flippantly, I replied. “Of old age”.
It might seem like a strange and morbid question but in reality, any of us who practice strive to have the intimate knowledge of our own death as a cornerstone of what we do.
I thought about the question some more and the answer to “how will you die?” is “alone.” That will be true, regardless of whether my end comes behind a steering wheel, in a bed surrounded by those I love, or of a heart attack as I walk down a crowded street.
Death and birth are both rites of passage which we cannot have anyone else do for us. Even in being born, our experience of that is other than the experience of the woman who is giving birth.
This year the Pagan community has lost two beautiful and inspirational people. Simon Large and Richard Redmond – friends and contemporaries – have left this life.
Their deaths are their own but their leaving belongs to the community. There is a hole in the world where they used to be. Neither left without passing on so much wisdom and love that we can scarily believe it possible that it would stop.
But it would do them both a great disservice to pretend or to trot out clichés about meeting again or the joys of the Summerlands.
I recall a time when I felt that practice was pointless, the Craft didn’t want me and I asked why this was any different to obeying blind rules laid out by a monotheistic dogma?
I let rip to Richard, who listened patiently as I raved about “what if we’re wrong … what if there’s nothing else?”
“If there is nothing else we won’t know or care,” he said. “If there is, then we’ll be delighted we did something about it. Either way, our practice informs our lives to the better,” he said.
At Samhain, we invite those we loved and have passed to come back into our lives, our rituals for a night. In doing so we acknowledge that their memory has not died. Our love for them has not died.
But what we should consider most at Samhain is not how we will die.
But how will we live?
Dark, sensual blessings.