And it’s said that the dead come back to life on Halloween,
the anglicized All Hallows’ Eve.
But do the saints
and the souls
really truly leave?
I try not to get caught by the smoky ropes each October,
the orange plasticky bowls,
tin foil trinkets,
calories we’ve consumed;
regarding the celebration:
Halloween makes me very sad.
Maybe it’s the last night of the true summer,
the beginning of
the holiday trifecta,
darkness, cold, the bus stop at 6:30 each morning.
My first Halloween,
four months in the world,
I was a Jersey devil,
New Jersey’s eponymous monster,
with a red onesie and paper horns,
Four, five, six,
the powerful kiddo,
curly false violet hair,
black Puritan clothes.
We drove around the District,
leafless trees scratching the car,
visiting the Rapps,
getting candy, pats on the head,
smelling smoke from a paper cigar,
he got lung cancer later.
I was eight,
and found a book in
my Catholic grammar
about the traditions of the Celtic occult and Samhain,
the ancient ceremonials
into a Christian celebration.
Still later, still lower,
into a Victorian past time.
At nine I stopped trick-or-treating,
and began to give the candy to neighbors,
sometimes older boys with classmates came,
asked again and again for more candy,
and I’d say no.
They’d go behind a tree,
And it was cold, and dark and we’d watch the Great Pumpkin,
and then at twelve I was a Heather,
killing only myself,
no candy for anyone that year.
a scary movie,
walking to the bus
thick-aired All Saints’ Day,
I prayed for myself,
and asked for Thomas Aquinas’ intercessions.
My grandfather died the next February.
I am still mad sometimes.
I was at the Center,
and forced to
eat horrible things.
The party my sister held was my funeral.
A bright friend came over,
and we talked,
giving allergen-free candy to the
So many ice queens,
so few witches,
is that good?
I fell asleep with tea lights refracting into my room,
shrieks from the dancing woods
the glass moon glowing
again in my room.
L. died this year.
I am still sad.
and the parties are a no,
but I am living
and when I told him about my love of Yeats,
I didn’t mean the cemetery gates thing.
I meant Aengus,
looking for his apple blossomed bride,
but he didn’t understand.
That was last year, too.
And Halloween is a beautiful tragedy,
but we are stronger this year,
and we are not tragic.
favorites · 2015 edition
1) MOVIE:: The Secret of Roan Inish, a 1994 movie about Fiona, a girl who lives in County Donegal with her grandparents, and is searching for her brother, who was washed away to Roan Inish. (Interestingly, the movie was filmed by an American director; however its veracity was far less suspect than that of John Wayne’s A Quiet Man, which isn’t worth linking to here.)
4) SONG:: “Beautiful Day”, U2.
5) GIRL’S NAME:: Maeve, after the warrior queen. The name means “Enchantress”.
6) GIRL SAINT:: St. Dymphna!
7) BOY’S NAME:: Malachy, meaning Messenger.
8) BOY SAINT:: St. Brendan, who sailed to Brazil in the Middle Ages, (or so the legend goes).
9) POP ICON::Bono, for his social work.
10) POET:: Yeats!
12) IRISH HISTORICAL FIGURE:: Éamon de Valera (though American by birth) for his political and Irish independence activism.
13) IRISH-AMERICAN:: Caroline Kennedy
14) THE CUTEST LIFEBLOOD OF IRELAND:: Sheep!
15) MY MOST IRISH HABIT:: Crocheting (but I cannot do lace–yet!)
I wish you all a happy evening!
Lorde may be the latest pure heroine, and first to phrase it as such, but a look through history displays many other icons, all woman of beauty, power and bravery. And also, martyrs for their cause.
Let’s just hope we don’t follow into the latter category…
Joan of Arc:
Joan was a peasant/woman warrior/advocate/martyr in the fifteenth century France.
She was Catholic in a time when it wasn’t a safe religion to profess her faith to,
and yet she saw visions of leading the French to victory over England in the Hundred Years’ War.
So she received an audience with the Dauphin of France and he eventually lent her an army.
She was victorious over the English again and again,
until the Duke of Burgundy (in France),
a traitor to the French,
had her convicted of heresy,
and so she was
burned at the stake
in 1431, at age 19.
She is a brave woman for speaking out,
speaking the truth,
when she had the education of a child,
and very little power
in the Middle Ages,
a time when women were subjected to
droit de signeur
(Look it up if you dare)
and yet she was a woman of God,
of love for her country.
A Pure Heroine in my book.
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