Samhain (2013)

Hyacinth Noir’s Samhain Literary Issue
1 November 2013

In the Silence, by Amanda Larson

Samhain is a time of remembrance and reflection.  It’s a chance to look back over the year to consider our harvests, whether they be of produce or the results of more figurative seeds we’ve sown.  It’s a time to remember those who are no longer with us and a reminder that they haven’t truly left us.  The tradition of the dumb supper is one way to focus our thoughts and let us hear those who the noise of our daily lives can drown out.  Even in the silence, it can sometimes take the open-mindedness of our animal companions to show us the way.

Death was silent.  It could sweep in under the rustling of poplar leaves on a windless day or lurk in the darkness of those endless hours before dawn.  It was quiet now even as the spirits roamed restless.

Flickering candles sent long shadows over the kitchen as if giving those wandering spirits form.  The sweet, earthy aroma of frankincense and myrrh invited them in.

(… read more)

frozen, by Michelle Kopp

While Samhain is a celebration of life, death and re-birth, it is also described by some as a ‘day out of time’, when the universe melds back to primordial chaos before being re-birthed with new order.   Two of these poems – frozen and [the forthcoming] Desolated Summerland — were written during a time when I — as well as my spirituality — were undergoing a parallel transformation: a complete reconstruction of everything I thought I had knew about my identities.  The third [forthcoming] piece – beyond the veil – was written most recently following the death of one of my amphibian darlings.

Both frozen and Desolated Summerland focus on the impact of tragedies, and are explorations on death and rebirth, as well as how two people deal with loss and sorrow as the veils between the worlds becomes thinner on this spirit night.  In frozen, a strong sense of death preoccupies the woman’s mind and she sacrifices part of herself in a ritualised ‘letting go’ and remembrance of a lover.

silver bullets pierce the moon
crimson skies flood the earth

infected death rapes her lover
and she kisses her one last time
over painted eyes and charcoal lips

(… read more)

beyond the veil, by Michelle Kopp

Many years ago, in a conversation with a fellow pagan, they shared with me their sense of the divine: that all living entities – humans and animal – have an energy (that is commonly referred to as a soul), and this is connected to a power beyond our understanding, the deity.  This energy connects us to one another, to the gods, and to those we have lost.

While writing is said to be therapeutic, I’ve always thought of writing as a gift as well – a remembrance of a loved one gone into the veil before you.  This piece was written following the death of one of my red-eyed tree frogs, and invokes images of the ‘amphibian land’ beyond the veil.

 I.

beyond the veil
neotropical rainforests
hushed in silence

a hop and leap —
bountiful insects
on translucent wing

(… read more)

Desolated Summerland, by Michelle Kopp

Similar to the previous piece, [frozen], Desolated Summerland also celebrates a communion with and remembrance of the dead.  In this poem, there’s a focus on the different paths that people can take during their lives, and how, despite everything, all actions can still lead two souls to one another, even in the Summerland.  The unconventional formatting of the poem reflects the ebbing tides of those different paths, criss-crossing with myriad paths of others, and lend to the piece a water-like, flowing quality.

footfalls painted b e n e a t h the mourning moon

silhouetted alongside crystalline waters

upsetting s p i r a l l e d seashells  s-h-a-t-t-e-r-e-d

b
e
l
o
w

speckled obsidian and hollow morals

(… read more)

Atticus of the Braithwolds, by Lore Lippincott

The eternal spiral of darkness lures our souls.  The trees tremble, lose the last of their vibrant display, and when the bleakness of the season is upon us, we’re stationed at our most humble place: between a fascination with the continuation of autumn, and the impending bleakness of winter.

The last glow of the hunter’s moon still shines upon our imaginations, eager to guide us into the unknown between our world and the everlasting realm of death.  Into the mellowness after the Autumn Equinox, we remember, anticipate and welcome the wandering spirits of the dead.  We hear their whispers, feel their presences at the folds of Samhain’s translucent veil, and in the shadows of balding trees, step darker stripes of souls visiting from the wilds of eternity.  We glean from them what knowledge we lack now: an urgency to harness and employ our talents, know ourselves, our journey, our hearts; and remember that the approaching shyness of the earth in winter cloaks the transformation and regeneration we contain within.

As the transition of seasons is motionless, it is our time for transformation, to find ourselves in another’s costume, to find ourselves reformed when the forces of Samhain are once again inhaled into the earth . . .

Atticus is a relatively normal UPO (Unified Pagan Occupant) whose time at the Braithwolds, a rustic retreat, sees him writing a weather prediction pamphlet, making a few new friends, and understanding to a brighter degree all his empathic gifts.  Emotional and physical sensitivity rile Atticus intensely whenever fellow UPO and bard Sebastian happens to be near, but Atticus can’t figure out why, and charismatic Sebastian laughs at the mystery.  As Samhain approaches, Atticus discovers that his gift is mutating, that his consciousness insists on pondering the elemental themes of Samhain: transformation and death.

I.

Sleepy-eyed and heavy, Atticus crossed the threshold of his cabin for his first appreciative breath of cool morning air.  A low sun, still powerful as it neared its weakest point, painted golden garlands through the bare trees, through an illusive mist that lingered yet over the tall grasses, dying asters and boneset that draped the wilds.  Nearby, neighboring cabins puffed smoke from stone chimneys, chickens roamed, chickadees erupted into their daybreak greetings.  Even after the lapse of six months and two delicious seasons, the Braithwolds continued to enthrall Atticus.  Rather than meeting every day like a smudge upon the world, he woke feeling like he’d been daubed by a great and triumphant power.  He’d gained more in the last six months at the Braithwolds than he had in his twenty-seven years living beyond its borders.

(… read more)

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