It is Samhain and the moon is full. Samhain and the moon is full and the thinness of the veil is present all around me. This is the beginning of the darkness, the Celtic new year, the time of connection to those gone before, to our old ones and to the fertile, sacred stillness. A magic time to turn within and sense into meaning and rhythm, to ask the questions of our deep selves that have been perhaps hidden in plain sight, the ones we are afraid to ask.
For me this is a time of dying. My old life and ways composting before my eyes. My ability to force myself into the rigor of the do, do, do of this culture falling away. I am no longer able to coerce myself, to occupy the roles I have held, thinking they were my own and now seeing as constructs inherited from an unwell society and the unhealed parts of my family lineage and a traumatized ancestry.
And I am tending the dying this Samhain. My Auntie and Cousin and myself have been deep in it. 7 days now at the bedside of my dearest Uncle, who is walking the liminal line, the space between life and death. He has been without food nine days and without water for seven, and still he breaths, and his heart beats and we sit vigil, we sing, we eat, we talk and cry and laugh. Three women together tending this edge time, we are midwives, weavers, spell makers. The working is thick and deep, alive with potent power and grace.
There is a perfectness to it, a gentleness as well and I am blown open by the love that is present in these walls. These walls made of the clay of this land, thick and strong. Strong enough to hold us up and hold us in as we dance in this space of timeless beauty, of great grief, of tender tending.
There is nothing required, nothing to be done. We are called simply to love and be true and be in presence with each other. Three of us living and one of us living, but also dying. The knowing of his ending is thick around us, it hangs like a cloak on our shoulders. His still breathing body shines with the brightness of the eternal and it seems impossible that soon, he will breath his last. Soon he will leave us in this form, soon it will be three, not four under the shelter of this strong roof and walls.
I find that when I am in the heart of life, as I am now. In the heart of life as I do this dance with death, my words come easily. Poems flow forth, and I have spent some of each day with pen to paper, making sense of life and death through the rhythm and feeling of the pen on the page, and the words the tumble out, I a scribe for whatever it is that moves through me.
I received and image the other morning as I was sitting by my Uncle, of his body thinning out, becoming many, rather than one. As if he was layered somehow, growing more expansive and ethereal, more a galaxy than a star. As I witnessed this I saw also a Raven come, resting on the back of his body, his spine alight with life force energy, connected to the cosmos. The raven bent her head and began to pick at his spine, the base of the spine, somehow unbuttoning or unbraiding him from the corporeal realm, one by one releasing the tethers to his body and his life. This poem arose from that image.
You do not look like I remembered
though we have met before – you and I
oh walker of the edge place – you one we call death.
Your wings are black- not back of night
but black of dawn
Black of ebony raven plume
black of your beloveds pupil – shrinking and growing
with the closeness of your love.
You dark bird who hovers
unseen until the end and then appearing
vast on the horizon – vast above the bed frame
unstitching the woven spine of life
with your great black beak.
Morrigan – lady of endings
mistress of raven
one day you shall feast on my flesh as well.
You circle low above us now
so close I can see your breast
so close I can see the underside of your beak
and the bottom of you scaly feet.
When will you land and sink your talons in
claiming this life as your own?
the breath keeps breathing -but softer now
fly low- fly low
we will not chase you away.
12 thoughts on “On Ravens Wing”
Blessed Samhain to you and yours before, presently, and to come. And blessings on your Uncle who is in the sacred liminal space, with beloved women tending his journey. How so very beautiful.
Sent from my iPhone
It is a time of such immense beauty and sorrow woven together, hard to even wrap my mind around, but I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂
Blessed Samhain to you as well! As we head into the dark ( and rainy) months to come, may your hearth fire be ever warm.
My love for you, for this poem you have birthed into the world this morning, is ever expansive, layering itself upon my heart the more knowing you has been gifted to me. You astonish me everyday with wonder. I cannot wait to see how your continued blossoming unfolds.
Sent from my hand to your eyes
Your love and presence help me bloom dear one! I am beyond grateful for the kindredness we share and for your constancy in companioning me in this life. Bless your bones, and all the rest of you as well.
Tears flow from my eyes as I imagine you there with the Raven. So beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing.
Oh Jeanne, thank you. You know well the dance of death. I am glad to walk with you on this path of learning and tending. OWS fellows and dear friends.
My skin prickles with hairs standing at attention as I read. I too have felt the aliveness that contact with the other side of mother goddesses love, which we call death
Scott, I am so glad to hear from you, and know you are out there doing your good work in the world. Yes, this space between is fertile magic, and is bringing me close to something in me that I may have forgotten, or hidden. There is a rawness and A knowing I am so far from immortal…Blessings on you and yours.
The truth you speak so clearly, immediate and loving, at the time when the veil is at its most permeable and tender is impeccable and full of beauty. Thankyou. May the liminal times ever find you present and your heart open.And may each passage into the light and darkness, as the threshold is crossed, bring relief and a carrying on of the love left behind.
Yes, thank you. the love lives on! What a gift, this precious nectar of love.
‘unstitching the woven spine of life”
This phrase broke my heart open. The Raven, taking on the task. And we, bystanders, gratefully watch and wait, within the spell of the final moment when four becomes three.
I’m so glad you were there together. Your writing pulls from a very deep well.
‘Thank you’ seems insufficient to the wealth given in ‘The Raven’s Song’.
Oh Kay, this comment touches my heart. Thank you for your reflection and for reading my words. It is so nourishing for me to write and share. The well I pull from is the same one we dive into together, and if I may say so, from which your gorgeous writing draws. I am so glad we are in the world together and sharing of our deep selves.