night was very dark, with a Full Moon hanging in the cloud-filled
sky above. The air was crisp with the feel of late Autumn and
the doorway between the worlds was wide open. Carved pumpkins
sat on the porches of the houses in the little town, and the laughter
of children dressed in costumes could be heard from the streets.
It was a sad
time for Beth as she climbed the hill behind her house. In her
arms was her cat and friend Smoky, carefully wrapped in his favorite
blanket. A little grave was already dug on the hill, waiting,
for Smoky had died that day.
"Do you want me
to go with you?" Beth's father had asked. "I dug his
grave beside MacDougal's at the top of the hill." Beth clearly
remembered when their dog MacDougal had died after being hit by
"No, I want to
go by myself," she answered.
at the top of the hill and knelt beside the little grave. She
carefully laid Smoky's blanket-wrapped form in the earth and covered
it with dirt, laying several large rocks on the top. Then she
cried and cried.
Smoky, I miss you so much?" Beth looked up at the Moon, tears
streaming down her cheeks. "Why did you die?"
"It was his time
to rejoin the Mother," said a deep, gentle voice in the darkness.
"Who said that?"
Beth looked around but saw no one.
"Dying is part
of the cycle of life, you know." One of the boulders on the
hill stirred into life.
are you?" The moonlight shone down on the little woman, and
Beth could see she was not human.
"I'm a troll-wife,"
said the creature as she came to sit across from Beth. "This
is a sad night for both of us, girl. I, too, came to this hill
to bury a friend." The troll-wife wiped a crystal tear from
her cheek. "The squirrel was very old. Still it makes me
at the troll-wife. The little woman was the color of rock in the
moonlight, her hair
like long strands of moss, her bright eyes like shining crystals.
She wore a dress woven of oak leaves and tree bark.
and I lived together for a long time," the troll-wife said.
"We often talked to your cat when he was hunting here on
the hill. Smoky and I were friends. I shall miss him, too."
The little woman patted Smoky's grave gently, " Sleep well,
little friend. When you are rested, we shall talk together again."
"But he's dead,"
Beth said, her voice choked with tears.
"Child, this is
Samhain. Don't you know the ancient secrets of this sacred time
of year?' The troll-wife motioned for Beth to come and sit beside
her. "It is true that our friends have gone into a world
where we can no longer physically touch them, but the Mother has
given us other ways of communicating with them. We can do this
any time, but the time of Samhain is the easiest."
"I don't understand
how this can be done," Beth said, "or why Samhain makes
time of year," the troll-wife answered, "the walls between
this world and the world of souls and spirits are very thin. If
we are quiet and listen, we can hear our loved ones and they can
hear us. We talk, not with spoken words, but with the heart and
that just imagination?" Beth looked down at Smoky's grave,
tears once more coming into her eyes. "Like my thinking I
can feel MacDougal get up on my bed at night like he used to?"
is, but mostly it is not imagination, only our friends come to
see us in their spirit bodies." The troll-wife reached up
her hand and patted something Beth couldn't see on her shoulder,
"Like my friend the raven. He is here now."
Beth looked hard and
saw a thin form of hazy moonlight on the troll-wife's shoulder.
"I've seen something like that at the foot of my bed where
MacDougal used to sleep." She whispered. "I thought
I was dreaming." She jumped as something nudged her arm.
When she looked down, nothing was there.
smiled, "Close you eyes and think of MacDougal," she
said. "He has been waiting a long time for you to see him."
her eyes and, at once, the form of her little dog came into her
mind. His tail wagged with happiness. She felt a wave of love
come from him, and she sent her love back. Then she felt the dog
lie down against her leg.
"Can I do this
with Smoky?" Beth asked.
the troll-wife answered. "He needs to sleep a while and rest.
Then he will come to you. This gives Smoky time to adjust to his
new world, and you time to grieve for him. It is not wrong to
grieve, but we must not grieve forever."
"I never thought
of it that way," Beth said. "It's kind of like they
moved away, and we can only talk to them on the phone."
"It is this way
with all creatures, not just animals." The troll-wife stood
up and held out a hand to Beth. "Will you join me, human
girl? Although I buried my friend squirrel this night, I still
must dance and sing to all my friends and ancestors who have gone
on their journey into the other world. For this is a time to honor
joined the troll-wife in the ancient slow troll dances around
the top of the little hill in the moonlight. She watched quietly
while the troll-wife called out troll-words to the four directions,
words Beth couldn't understand. Deep in her heart the girl felt
the power of the strange words and knew they were given in honor
and love by the little troll-wife.
When the troll-wife
was finished with her ritual, she hugged Beth. "Go in peace,
human child" she said, "And remember what I have told
you about the ancient secret of Samhain."
Beth answered. "Will I ever see you again?"
Moon is Full, I will be here," the little troll-wife said.
"And especially at Samhain."
I had something to give you." Beth hugged the little woman.
"You have taught me so much." She felt the tears come
to her eyes again.
us exchange tears for our lost friends." The troll-wife reached
up a rough finger and caught a tear as if fell from Beth's eye.
The tear glistened on her finger. The troll-wife gently touched
her finger to her cloak, and Beth's tear shone there like a diamond
in the moonlight. Beth reached up carefully and caught one of
the troll-wife's tears as it slid down her rough cheek. It turned
into a real crystal in her hand. "Remember the secret of
Samhain, and remember me," the troll-wife said softly as
she disappeared into the darkness.
Beth walked back down
the hill, the crystal clutched in her hand. Her father was waiting
on her on the porch.
"Are you all right?"
her father asked as he gave Beth a hug.
be," she answered. She opened her hand under the porch light
and saw a perfect, tear-shaped crystal lying there.
"Did you find
something?" her father asked.
Beth answered, and her father smiled. For he also knew the little
troll-wife and the secret of Samhain.