I’ve been in a funk. No…that’s putting it very mildly. I’ve been full on in a foul mood this weekend. No money, no holiday goodies or gifts, no family close by, a toothache, a headache…did I say no money? Yeah, whats to be merry ho-ho-f#cking-ho about, right?

But this morning…Christmas morning…I got the best present from my favorite Aunt: a huge-laugh-out-loud Christmas memory that I’d all but forgotten.

What better way to wish a Merry Christmas to the world than to share this awesome Christmas Morning email? If you have kids…or remember what it’s like to be a kid…it’s especially funny. Or maybe I’ve just finally fell off my rocker. LOL

Enjoy!

Dear Miss Banana,

Merry Christmas !
I have a “…Christmas when Dyanne was a little girl…TRUE story” for you.
You were about three and a half and your mother and I took you to Santa Barbara in search of Santa so you could tell him your list. Your mother wisely had me scout santa first to make sure that a child as smart and precocious as you were wasn’t disappointed by a sub-par, and therfore phony Santa Claus.
Well, we started at Sears. Your mom distracted you while I checked Santa out. About 18 years old, 6 foot 4, and weighed about 120 pounds. Whew, that was a close one! So then we went to Robinson’s. Not bad, but when I got closer to him, his beard was of poor quality and you could easily see his clean-shaven face. Nope, not that one. We went a couple of other places only to be disappointed.
Meanwhile, you were getting impatient with us. We wound up downtown at the old JCPenney”s, I began to feel almost desperate,but went downstairs to check out santa while your mom again took you around the store to look at stuff. I went downstairs and there on a glorious throne of gold and red velvet, with tons of candycanes and xmas decorations, sat THE coca cola Santa Claus!!! An obviously real white hairline, rosy cheeks, cherry nose, rimless specktacles, thick luxurious white beard, beautiful red velvet/white fur costume authentically filled out by many years of too many xmas cookies…gosh he was just gorgeous! I ran upstairs to tell your mom that “THIS IS IT!”
You were so excited to see him and easily climbed up on his lap and looked into his very merry face. He leaned down and sweetly said in a a very high and distinctively woman’s voice, “And so, little girl, what would you like for Christmas?”
Your mom and I were stunned…I remember feeling the blood drain from my face because you were way too young to have that fantasy crushed. You were very quiet for what seemed like an eternity to us but was probably just 3 or 4 seconds. Then you turned and gave us a hooded “what the.?.” look. You told Santa what you wanted and then slowly walked back to us. Your mom and I didn’t know what to say, so we didn’t say anything…just waited for the crash.
But, as usual, you were way ahead of us. You looked up into your mom’s eyes and slowly asked, “Mommy, do you think maybe that was MRS.Claus?”
Whew!

Merry Christmas, Dyanne. I love you

Auntie M’reen

HeeHaaw and Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Emilia Rosalind Amhurst Kingfisher was a piece of work, to put it mildly. In her early mid-fifties, she easily and consistently passed for forty due in part to good genes and in large part to one of the most expensive and exclusive plastic surgeons in the world. She thought nothing of jetting away to The Continent (as she called all of Europe) for a few days…or sometimes a few weeks…just to have Dr. Sebastian, her médecin extraordinaire, take a nip here, make a tuck there, inject, siphon, sculpt and plump as she felt necessary. In addition, her arsenal of vitamin supplements, prescription medications, ointments, creams and spa treatments added to her defenses against the all-evil eternal enemy: AGE. Her daily routine five days a week included at least three different exercise sessions…yoga, weight training, and various cardio workouts…all in the comfort and privacy of her own home, all by separate private coaches and all at least two hours each. Add to that her own private dietician to map out and plan her each and every meal with her own private chef and there was no way the enemy was going to sneak up on her. Being independently wealthy from before the day she was born, with no need to do anything whatsoever to stay that way, keeping up her appearance was her job. Hell, it was her duty, as she saw it.

She was, after all, Emilia Rosalind Amhurst Kingfisher, daughter of William Bertram Emerson Amhurst III, sole heir to one of the largest fortunes in America and overseer of over a dozen charities and trusts. Her grandfather, William Bertram Emerson Amhurst II, or “Bertie” as he was affectionately called, had grown up among the East Coast Elite and had been educated in the very best educational establishments money could buy…and money was definitely something the family had in great abundance. It flowed like water…or rather, it flowed like expensive champagne and the highest-end gin…and no Amhurst ever went parched.

Despite the exclusive clubs, the Washington connections, the dizzying array of parties and accompanying hob-knobbing with the elite of every corner of the globe, Bertie had wanted to set himself apart and lobbied his formidable father extensively to let him travel out to the west coast upon completing college on the pretext of temporarily overseeing the various oil interests the family held there. He wanted to see how the money was made, how to optimize the profits, to set himself apart and bask in the victory of millions of dollars bent into submission of his rule. Oh, but these were not reasons for going out west that he highlighted to his father. Heaven forbid he would want to dirty his hands and reputation with actual work! Even though he would really only be overseeing figures and visiting the various oil wells, overseeing shipping and sales arrangements and making business connections…of course, no actual “work” would be done. The mere association and implication of “work” was completely beneath any Amhurst. One hired others for such things. An Amhurst’s place was at one of his various social clubs…yachting, riding, tennis matches, and attending social functions with others of their bored class. No, he didn’t let on his true aspirations. He stressed to his father the importance of travel and a well-rounded knowledge of the country. One couldn’t be expected to end up in the White House if they didn’t know or understand anything of what lay west of Chicago. He’d be back after a few months…maybe a year…and father’s continuous schedule of brandy and cigars would take him over. So, scandalous though it was considered by his family and peers to actually do or even oversee any actual “business”, Bertie eventually won out and got his wish. He left by private rail car to points west the year he turned 23…and the year the country went dry…in nineteen-twenty. And the rest, as they say, was history.

Emilia had been the apple of Bertie’s eye…everyone’s eye, really. Silver spoon? Oh, no…more like a Platinum spoon, and a new one for every course of the lavish dinners that were the Amhust trademark and specialty. The only girl and youngest of only three grandchildren, everyone doted on her and there was nothing she couldn’t have or do. Her two cousins were awful boys, with no ambition and no real intelligence. All they cared about were sailing and cars and which girls they could impress with their old money. Grandpa Bertie knew it from the start, from when they were not even old enough to go off to prep school. It was Emilia that got Bertie’s personal attention, Emilia that went to Bertie’s offices during vacations from her East Coast schools, Emilia that Bertie thought of when he met Raymond Kingfisher and hired him to rethink his business portfolio.

Straight out of college with dual Masters degrees in finance and public relations in the early nineteen-seventies, Ray had been a seven years older than Emilia. She was only eighteen and not yet started at college herself, but Bertie knew he knew best and saw an opportunity he was not about to pass up even if his son, her father, couldn’t see it and wanted her to wait until after college to settle down. Over the course of the next couple years, Bertie made sure that Ray was invited to the same dinners as Emilia, was at every family holiday function, attended every polo match…and set him back Tiffany Platinum Diamond 2.7 caratseast on business during the school year whenever possible. Eventually it stuck. The Christmas she was about to turn twenty years old…halfway thru her junior year at Bryn Mar…Ray asked Emilia to marry him in front of the entire West coast Amhurst clan. Grandpa Bertie had a light in his eyes that most in attendance thought was wistful beaming happiness, but it was the glint of money Bertie saw…the continuation of power as he molded it, as he wielded it even from his impending grave. They were married that June and Grandpa Bertie died a mere two months later in August…and Emilia never went back to finish her degree in Art History, as had been planned. 

But no matter, as she saw it. She had married Bertie’s own protégé with Bertie’s blessing…and inherited a large portion of his estate. It was not as large as her father’s share, of course. William Bertram Emerson Amhurst III was heir to the company and all its holdings, but she received a sizable sum as well as stock options…and in all, it was more than double what had been left to her two cousins combined.

She was pretty much set for life.

© 2011 D. Kessler

I would like to apologize for the fact that I have absolutely nothing feisty or even opinionated or political to say today. Yesterday’s shooting in Arizona and subsequent personal media overload was a zap to my system…I feel slightly singed. Charred around the edges like a tree at the perimeter of the fire…not burned up, just bruised, tender and tired.

It’s been a day of healing at Casa de D today. A much needed day of pajamas and music and no television and minimal interweb action. So, as far as I know, maybe there has been another deadly shooting or a foreign missile launched or multiple babies thrown from 40-story windows in Name-Your-City-of-Choice (okok…channeling Livia Soprano there for a minute. *shudder* Sorry.) I have been in my cocoon of comfort with family and french press and kittens and various musical distractions via Fantabulous Daughter’s plethorific iPod inventory and Mr. Rockstar’s intermittent acoustic guitar riffs & freshair and daisiesa backlogged bunch of CDs begging for digitizing to my hard drive…and even Evil UpstairsBlindGuy’s Hootenanny of Hell filtering through his floor/my ceiling (Gods help us).

The Tea Party Fucks and Frenzied Masses on Both Sides should take a moment and run with my lead. We all need a Sunday of Nothing from time to time. Maybe more like all the time. I’m not saying stick your head in the sand. I’m not saying keep your head in the clouds. I’m saying…Everybody Just Chill the Frak OUT…for just a minute. A day. Or more.

Let’s take a breath of fresh air in peace while we still can. I fear that this might  get loud soon.

© 2011 D. Kessler

I often wonder why it is that people settle in such cold climates.  I mean really…if it gets cold enough to make it a mortal mistake to be without shelter, you would think that there is something basically wrong with humans living there year round.  Oh, sure, it’s a wonderful place to live for two thirds or three quarters of the year…but if from the calends of December through to March we’re talking about sub-freezing temperatures, or worse, then I just don’t see the pay-off.  There is a reason human beings were nomadic in places like the Plains/Steppes etc.  Snow? Ice?  Blizzard Winds?? Frak that!  We’re outta here!  See ya in the Spring! 

Oh, sure…I’m just a big pussy.  I have thin skin.  I don’t have enough meat on my bones (or used to).  I’m just not used to the cold.  Blah-blah-blah.  I’ve heard it all.  I’ve also lived in quite a few different climates, thanks to a Sagittarius mom that seems to think that moving every few years was a good thing…call it a “fresh start” or “running from your demons” or “giving your kids a different perspective” or whatever else thing you want.  The down-side is we kids got to make new friends every few years…making my brother slightly more introverted, but me more social.  The “up”-side is we got to experience all sorts of different weather climes. 

Already familiar with the So Cal Coastal-Mediterranean climate, we packed up the VW and a friend’s car and trailer…off to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, we were.   To experience drenching rains for five or six months a year and to learn what frost was first hand (I’d never seen it before!).  After a few years, it was down to Cali again, but this time a northern inland hell misleadingly called The Sacramento Valley.  “Valley” sounds nice, right, pretty valley?  Nope…brown and dry and hot, hot, hot all summer and not a beach in sight (that’s just not right!).  I thought it could get no worse, but oh, no…I was wrong.   Let’s load up the kids and the dog and…It’s a Road Trip!!  To the South…Alabama, to be exact…complete with 90% humidity (whether it’s 98°F in summer or 35°F in winter), cockroaches the size of small mice in even the nicest homes, incessant buzzing outside from some scary-looking bug called a cicada, and let’s not forget the tornadoes (and the Klan marches…for real!).  That didn’t last long, only a year and a half.  Even my mother new that was a mistake…and so we were soon on our way back out west…California here we come!  So happy!  Wait…for some reason my mother got it in her head as we passed through Northern Arizona that the pines were so pretty and wouldn’t it be nice to live here and it’s only a day’s drive to the coast so we could visit Gram in California all the time…*sigh*  Bye-bye California, hello a different kind of hell. 

Now, Flagstaff, Arizona, is at an elevation of 7000 feet above sea level.  That’s higher than Denver.  That’s just ridiculous.  What that means is Flagstaff gets SNOW.  Yep.  Snow…in Arizona.  It gets mutha-fraking FREEZING cold.  I remember it being 12°F!  That’s just way wrong…almost as wrong as being below zero at night!  And we still have to go to school, we still have to learn to drive, we still have to function. 

So you see…I have some experience with different kinds of weather and have been in and out of cold for a long time.  But how people live in places like Fargo or Sheboygan or Fairbanks or [insert your town/city here]…I just don’t get it.  I would die.

Back to the here-and-now, my self-chosen hometown of Seattle is set this week to get the coldest weather we’ve had since 1990.  Yep, and I remember that winter…it was hella cold, and we got snow by the foot in the downtown core even.  It screwed with Joe Metro bad.  This week, Monday looks to be the coldest with a daytime high of 25°F.  Yeah, go ahead and laugh…we’re wussies here…but it’s still frakin’ COLD.  And Tuesday, the first day at my new job, is not going to be much better at 29°F.

Whoa…wait a minute, you say.  Job?  Did you say new job?? 

That’s RIGHT, Suckas!  I am unemployed no more!  I get to get up everyday while it’s barely light, just like a normal person, stumble through making coffee and making sure my clothes are on right-side out, ride Joe Metro downtown while putting on my makeup and not come home until it’s dark again (that can be anytime after 4:00 pm this time of year around here).  Whoo-hoo!  After six months, I’m ready for this again.

So, that’s it today, Kids.  I am thankful for my new job.  Thankful that my spouse doesn’t have to pull out his slightly thinning mop worrying that he isn’t writing enough music to cover the bills.  Thankful that I will once again have my own money and not have to ask him for funds for everything from drugstore staples to a beer and a burger.

And it’s about time.

© 2008 D. Kessler

I am a mortal.  I live I die. I will hopefully pass the torch to those that may  further my criteria for integrity in life. But it may not happen.  In fact, I’m not banking on it.  Even though I have the most pristine amazing most perfect specimen of the human consciousness as my offspring, I cannot bank on the age old tradition of her furthering my agenda…and that’s more than okay.  I want my daughter to take my input and turn it into her own thing. Such is the nature of evolution.

What I really mean to say is that I think that my daughter, free independent thinker that she is, will probably take what I say and do and incorporate it into her ethic and eventually my “legacy” (if that is what is it) will root and grow through her.  But I will never ever expect her to favor my agenda over hers.  To do so would burn my bridge from behind.  Nullify all that I am.

I’m a bit emotional right now…

I bring this up because I just found out that a woman that I have held in such Bettie Page immensely high esteem for most of my adult life has passed from this plane.  She is gone.  She was a Taurus, like me.  She was a dark haired rogue, like me.  She was born in the year 1923…the number that has followed me my whole life.  Ms. Bettie Mae Page, at age 85, in her mortal self, passed into the infinite.  I hope she is not too late to meet my brother JD on her way to Bliss.  Because, even though I never met her or knew her personally, she has she been part of my family…to me.

I am actually surprised at myself for being so emotionally disturbed by her passing.  I think it may be a little bit of the fact that some people seem to be above and beyond…don’t they always live?  They always will be?  They always will exist…won’t they?  But then…by brother didn’t, so I guess neither do they, these “others” that we feel will always be…

Bettie Page age 80 I am hoping that maybe my brother is still hanging out there somewhere in the Outer Zone…and maybe will get to meet and help Ms. Page along her way.  He was always a big fan.

That said…is there anything here I can glean for my “thanks” assignment?  Yes…maybe…well, no…I dunno…maybe.  For sure…I am thankful for Ms. Bettie Mae Page.  She became, by no intention of her own, a beacon, an icon, a immortal blessing to all GRRLs that thrive on individuality and independence and Do-For-Yourselfness.  I cried tonight.  I will forever feel her absence…

I will always miss you, my sweet Bettie.  You have helped me become who I am…and I thank you.  All us Grrls thank you.

© 2008 D. Kessler

Okay, today is NOT a good day for me.  I have been trying to figure out WTF is wrong with me…why I can’t get anything done, why am I flying off the handle at Dave for everything and nothing, why does the date keep jumping out at me, why can’t I write anything…no one single thing for NaNo or otherwise today…why do I keep having anxiety issues for no apparent reason…why, WHY, WHY…everything?!  It just isn’t sitting quite correctly today…

I just figured out what the deal is.  Just now.  At 7:47 PST.

Once upon a time, five years ago, my baby brother went to bed around 11 pm after drinking some wine with his fiancee.  He took off his very cool, slightly pointed, vintage dress shoes that he wore almost every day.  He rolled up each sock separately, as always, and stuffed one in each shoe.  He then meticulously placed his shoes with said socks against the baseboard across from the foot of the bed.  He went to sleep quickly…wine can do that to you…and was soon snoring his exceedingly loud irregular sleep-apnea snore.   Too loud, actually, so his fiancee (one of my best friends) went to sleep in the apt right next door, the apt she was watching while the neighbor was out of town for the Thanksgiving week.

Well, John never woke up.  He just up and stopped breathing in his sleep.  He was 32 years old.

Once I realized today, this evening, what the date meant, why it kept jumping out at me, I went and dug out my journal from that year.  I wasn’t able to write ANYthing for three weeks…not even in my journal, privately to myself.  I couldn’t do anything but sleep and drink a lot…A LOT, boy did I drink a lot.  I don’t know how I kept my job…I really think I had a bit of a nervous breakdown.  Finally on December 18, 2003…a full 23 days later (omg, that damn number follows me everywhere…)…I finally scribbled an entry as follows below.

Bear in mind this is not great writing…this is raw right out of my journal…but I can think of no better way to mark this day and send tribute to my brother than to publish the words I tore out of my soul finally that day 23 days after his death.  I’ve tried to protect my formatting as much as possible…but I have omitted some names to protect the innocent:

~ December 18, 2003 ~

home:  well, Dave’s in Shoreline…which is home…for now…

silence:  it’s quiet out here in the boondox

time:  11:09 PST…hung over, playing hookey from work

__________________________________

it has happened.

My most awful fear, my dreaded nightmare of my life since I was four 1/2 years old.

Johno is DEAD.

Died. Stopped Breathing. Didn’t wake up.

O God this is hard I can’t write this it makes it real if I do can’t I just try to pretend he just moved away somewhere nice with the love of his life Patti you know he asked her to marry him like 2 days before…

Before IT.

IT was November 25th and when [she] went to wake him on November 26th he was not breathing.

Cold.

Dead.

Turns out found out yesterday that it…The T.O.D…Time of Death was 11:45 pm November 25, 2003.

She had just checked on him at 11:30 before she got ready for bed.  She slept in the other room that night cuz he’s snoring was so bad.

                  The snoring that killed him…

Sleep Apnea.  You stop breathing.  Most of the time your body wakes you up so you start breathing again.  Sometimes I would shake John awake cuz he’d stop breathing.  Patti would too.

Not this time.

This time all were asleep. Johno was on his stomach and had been drinking that evening.  I had gotten a phone message, silly tipsy somewhat frustrated message, that evening when I got home from work.  He’d called like 4:30ish. I wish I would have saved it.  I wanted to but in it he accused [so-and-so] of not giving me my messages & called them [ommitted]…Didn’t want them to hear that so I erased it.

                  Oh if only I would have known it was the last time I would ever hear his voice I would have saved it.

                  I just want to hear his voice.

That’s how come I can’t pretend he & Patti just live somewhere else & so I never see them or him.

                   Cuz I’ll never get to hear him for real out loud say his silly stuff or his serious stuff.  Or ANY stuff.

I AM ALONE.  So Alone.

Since I was 4 1/2 I’ve always had my brother.  Looked out for him.  Laughed at & with him.  Worried about him.  Missed him.  Loved him.  Hung out & drank with him.  Went shopping for weird food with him.  Saved his life a couple times.

                                         But not this time.

                                         I couldn’t do anything this time.

                                         I wasn’t there.

                                         I can’t believe we can’t fix it.

I’m in suspended time.  I can’t let go.  I’m afraid to let things just slip away and get easier. I so don’t want this to be true.

         What about taking him to the ball games this summer?

         What about going to Vancouver on the train for a weekend?

         What about David Bowie in January?  Or Nick Cave when he comes back?

         What about coming over for dinner & doing music with David?

WHAT THE FUCK ABOUT OUR HERB/BOOK SHOP MASSAGE PRACTICE?!

What the FUCK?!

I want my brother back__ I can’t do this life like this.  I want my Johnno Nhojisquatch Dmitri.

This is too hard right now __                                              – 11:48 A.

So. It’s five years later and I’m still having trouble with it.  Oh…you know, life goes on and you don’t always dwell on it…usually not, you know.  But days like today…well…you can guess…

These are some of the many faces of that beautiful person, now

gone…

Johno, age 6, Christmas 1977

 Johno, at Summer's birthday party, July 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John in Nhojisquatch mode, Sept 2003

 

 

 

John Dmitri Kessler, at Volunteer Park Convervatory, summertime 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 Silly John (& Dave) wearing Patti's pink tiara at Patti's birthday dinner, Sept 14, 2003

I love you Johno.  I miss you somethin’ fierce. I can barely stand it…still…

I need your smile and to hear you say “How are you doing, dearest sister?” …in that way you do…

John Dmiti Kessler

March 8, 1971 – November 25, 2003

 John Dmitri Sept 2003

 

 

(Thanks everybody for listening…for real.  I know this is not the happiest post in  the world…)

© 2008 D. Kessler

As I’ve said, I’m tired.  The negativity of the mudslinging has sapped my energy and I now turn to a very different topic today.  Hallowe’en.

Hallowe’en is an important holiday for me and it’s roots are in the Celtic pagan New Year, Samhain.  (My mother and father were actually married on Hallowe’en, though neither of them were pagans…Interesting…).  Since I am, as I said, tired, I will post something from another site that puts it in a historical and understandable perspective, as I just can’t seem to deal with being La Professora today:

Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous celebrations at dawn, the most magically potent time of this festival is November Eve, the night of October 31st, known today of course, as Halloween.

Samhain (Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn) literally means “summer’s end.” In Scotland and Ireland, Halloween is known as Oíche Shamhna, while in Wales it is Nos Calan Gaeaf, the eve of the winter’s calend, or first. With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints’ Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry of celebrations from Oct 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and byre. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods in pagan times. All the harvest must be gathered in — barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples — for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come. The endless horizons of summer gave way to a warm, dim and often smoky room; the symphony of summer sounds was replaced by a counterpoint of voices, young and old, human and animal.

In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year. The greatest assembly was the ‘Feast of Tara,’ focusing on the royal seat of the High King as the heart of the sacred land, the point of conception for the new year. In every household throughout the country, hearth-fires were extinguished. All waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year — not at Tara, but at Tlachtga, a hill twelve miles to the north-west. It marked the burial-place of Tlachtga, daughter of the great druid Mogh Ruith, who may once have been a goddess in her own right in a former age.

At at all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the fire, and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane. As they received the flame that marked this time of beginnings, people surely felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come.

The Samhain fires continued to blaze down the centuries. In the 1860s the Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night, each surrounded by rings of dancing figures, a practice which continued up to the first World War. Young people and servants lit brands from the fire and ran around the fields and hedges of house and farm, while community leaders surrounded parish boundaries with a magic circle of light. Afterwards, ashes from the fires were sprinkled over the fields to protect them during the winter months — and of course, they also improved the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the oncoming tide of winter darkness, keeping away cold, discomfort, and evil spirits long before electricity illumined our nights. When the last flame sank down, it was time to run as fast as you could for home, raising the cry, “The black sow without a tail take the hindmost!”

Even today, bonfires light up the skies in many parts of the British Isles and Ireland at this season, although in many areas of Britain their significance has been co-opted by Guy Fawkes Day, which falls on November 5th, and commemorates an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in the 17th century. In one Devonshire village, the extraordinary sight of both men and women running through the streets with blazing tar barrels on their backs can still be seen! Whatever the reason, there will probably always be a human need to make fires against the winter’s dark.

Samhain was [and is still amongst certain circles, pun intended] a significant time for divination, perhaps even more so than May or Midsummer’s Eve, because this was the chief of the three Spirit Nights. Divination customs and games frequently featured apples and nuts from the recent harvest, and candles played an important part in adding atmosphere to the mysteries. In Scotland, a child born at Samhain was said to be gifted with an dà shealladh, “The Two Sights” commonly known as “second sight,” or clairvoyance.”

Now, as a person of Northern French decent, I feel a strong tie to all things Celtic.  Many think of Celtic in terms of only Irish or Scottish or some such faction of peoples from the British Isles.  But the fact is that the Normans, whom invaded Britain near a thousand years ago were from the Continent…and from the area known in Roman times as Northern Gaul…the area now known as France.  So, it completely makes sense that I would eventually lean this way in my spiritual meanderings,

Add to this the fact that my maternal grandfather is Mexican and I have a deep affiity to the Latin community.  Hallowe’en falls during the Mexican version of the holiday, Los Dios de los Muertos (the Days of the Dead).  The origins of Los Dios de los Muertos also have their roots in a pagan celebration:

The Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico can be traced back to the indigenous peoples such as the Olmec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Mexican, Aztec, Maya, P’urhépecha, and Totonac. Rituals celebrating the deaths of ancestors have been observed by these civilizations perhaps for as long as 2500–3000 years.[1] In the pre-Hispanic era, it was common to keep skulls as trophies and display them during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth.

The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl,[2] known as the “Lady of the Dead,” corresponding to the modern Catrina.

In most regions of Mexico, November 1st honors deceased children and infants where as deceased adults are honored on November 2nd. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1st mainly as “Día de los Inocentes” (Day of the Innocents) but also as “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the Little Angels) and November 2nd as “Día de los Muertos” or “Día de los Difuntos” (Day of the Dead).”

So, is it any wonder that I have such an interest in this holiday? 

I really don’t have much else to say…as I said, I’m tired.  But tonight I will not be out with the hoople-heads making a spectacle and mockery.  I will be at home, with my good friends, drinking and indulging in a not-so-pagan guilty pleasure…horror flicks. 

Oh, yeah…and somewhere during our own version of festivities we will raise our glasses and toast those that have come before us, or that are no longer with us, especially and including my little brother John Dmitri, mo’ Gran’mere Lucienne and mi Abuelo Mauricio.

 Johno @ B&O 082402 (crop) Lucienne Blanche Albert Petite Reyes c late 1940s Mauricio Lara Reyes c 1940s

Blessings…