Among the first ‘rewards’ to come from popping the universe’s hood and having a tinker is the unshakeable understanding that life continues beyond the expiration date stamped onto the side of your meat suit.
This is a wonderful life advantage. A helpful one, too.
You are never more grateful for it than when a grieving friend or relative with less of a spiritual inclination looks at you, tears in their eyes, willing you to make it better, to say that their loved one is not extinguished.
And you can.
You can say with a peaceful conviction that given a thousand years the world’s armies could never even dent; let alone break; that their loved ones still and will always exist. This is like water to someone lost in the desert.
We however, are blessed with an infinite supply of water and this can put its true value at risk.
Here in London there is a dizzyingly, spectacularly garish array of Halloween items everywhere… more than ever before it seems. It’s wonderful. Samhain has returned from its three century sabbatical in the colonies and it has come back better. Now only the most curmudgeonly of Telegraph readers would quietly grumble about ‘Americanisation’. (Sidebar: you’ll note that the word ‘Americanisation’ refuses to be Americanized. This amuses me.)
Because who could grumble about this? What a genuinely glorious exploration of the national unconscious! How could it not be beneficial to explore all the images that simultaneously terrify and fascinate us? When else do muggles get to don masks and disguises and discover the flimsy limits of their own identity -a genuinely magical practice? It’s healthy! (Not in a nutritional sense, obviously. My gods, there is so much candy sitting on my kitchen table I’ll get diabetes just walking past it to make some tea.)
Except… except… all the dumb suppers and ancestor candles and gourd arrangements and sexy nurse costumes and sexy devil costumes and sexy Playboy bunny costumes can sometimes run the risk of obscuring something: that loss is sad.
Since the last Halloween a number of people in my life have died. People like my grandmother. When my mother the psychonaut came to visit for my birthday we were going through some old photos she brought over on CD when she suddenly broke down in tears. She had her sixtieth birthday two weeks before my thirtieth. A lot of people in her life have died this year. She is the most profoundly spiritual, frustratingly clairvoyant person I know (it’s difficult to smoke and drink underage with a mother who can remote view) but she was sad.
And I know these people still exist but I miss them. I miss hugging them. I miss their facebook updates. I miss their cooking. I miss their sheer physicality in my lives.
So when you are doing your thing over these next few days, honouring ancestors and celebrating and finding that peculiar pumpkin-flavoured joy in their continued existence be a bit sad also. Tell them you are sad. Being sad is not a denial of their ongoing presence in your life.
Because however much the ‘veil’ may be ‘thin’ at this time of year, it’s still there. It’s still a barrier.
Additional Halloween Posts