The melancholy season

Samhain was lovely this year. It started out cloudy, but by late morning, the clouds thinned and the sun stayed out for the rest of the day. Whether it’s due to the warmer weather we’ve had this year or a lack of rain to knock the leaves down, we still have fall color to admire, and it was just cool enough to require a jacket but not so cold that you wanted to pull on a heavy coat.

Ordinarily, I’m a lover of beautiful fall days, but the cloudy day that we started with might have been a better fit for my mood. I’ve been feeling gently melancholic as Samhain has approached. Not depressed, not miserable, not even properly sad, just melancholic. It’s actually been sort of pleasant.

October 31 is developing a split personality, what with it being both Halloween and Samhain. Halloween may be many things—wild, scary, cute (my street hosts a safe daylight trick-or-treat event, and I got to see many Very Small People in Delightful Costumes yesterday)—but it doesn’t usually manage to be serious, much less melancholic. And while Samhain can be joyful, the most meaningful Samhains I remember were the ones that focused more on loss, grieving, and death.

Back at Mabon, which was a bit of a last-minute affair, I told myself that I was going to be better prepared for Samhain. With a month and a half lead time, I should be able to plan a ritual, set it up, and know the important bits by heart. I’ve ended up doing nothing towards this goal. I was feeling embarrassed by this—the high point of the Wiccan calendar, and I couldn’t even pull together the most basic of rituals? Eventually it sank in that a full-blown ritual, even a simple one, just doesn’t mesh with the mood of the season. It’s too colorful, too exciting, and too easy to be distracted by trying to get all the parts right and not actually experiencing the holiday itself.

So my Samhain observation is going to be minimalistic this year. A candle. Darkness. A blanket. Apple cider. Quiet music. And time alone to just grieve the losses, reflect on the year past, and just be in the melancholy.

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