The Gift of Samhain
submitted to us by Jackie Greer
It is near midnight, Samhain night.
I wander to the kitchen to put away the bowl of Halloween candy that has rested next to the door all evening. I set the bowl on the counter.
My eye, no, my heart, is drawn to something. I look up. On the kitchen wall, hanging by a nail, is a small cleaver. The metal is mottled, dull. The wooden handle is rough, fastened to the dull metal blade as if it was an afterthought. On it, a red and white label, made from the little Dymo label machine we used to label my shelves and my high school binders, proclaims, “Little Grandma.”
My Grandmother’s cleaver, so often held in her worn, dry hand, preparing a meal for her nine hungry children after the day’s planting or harvest from her family vegetable farm.
Slowly, as midnight approaches, my modern kitchen vanishes and the cleaver fills my vision and my soul. It has become a portal and I step through it.
“Granddaughter!” she welcomes me, a smile lighting her faded brown eyes and wrinkling her face in welcome. Her white hair gleams silver in the moonlight.
“I have waited so long for this night. My heart has sought you as yours has sought me. The gift of Samhain is that we find what we seek—one another. I have so little time, my granddaughter. Let me tell you what I have learned while I can. I long with all my being for your path to be easier than mine. Yet no! It cannot be or you cannot have the peace I have now.
“I cared for those I loved. I fed them from seed planted by my hand, nurtured and cared for by the Earth, by the Spirits of the Field, and by me. I watered the plant when the rain would not. I spoke to its spirit and asked that it grow strong, full of life, then be willing to sacrifice that life-energy for my children. Is that not what Mother Earth does?”
“But Grandmother,” I protest. I do not have a farm!”
“Ah, no, Granddaughter, you do not. But you have the Spirit of the Field within your heart and soul. Even though your bread comes from a supermarket, it is the seed that nurtures and sustains those you love—and you, whom I love with all my heart.
“My Granddaughter, our time is so short! Feed those you love, care for them. My strength, my wisdom, my guidance are yours. The gift of Samhain is a vision—see now as you can see only on this night!”
My vision expands. I am at the center of a radiant silver spiral. Lights glimmer along its whorls like dew on a spider web.
“Indeed it is a Web,” Grandmother replies to my thoughts. We no longer need words.
“This is the Web of Life. We return to the Womb of the Mother and rest there in darkness, preparing to be reborn, joining our soul to the souls of all who have gone before, traveling the Path of Light.
“We travel together, yet alone. Each of us must find our own path, our own destiny. Yet we are woven into a Web of Light, receiving strength, wisdom and love from those of every generation, and giving them our unique gifts in return. The gift of Samhain is the vision of those who travel with you, who love you, who yearn for you as you yearn for them.”
Tears fill my eyes. “Thank you, Grandmother.” Awed, humbled, I kiss her worn hand, then her wrinkled, sunken cheek. They are warm, pulsing with life.
Slowly, as I hold her hand, it becomes colder, more transparent. I begin to cry in earnest. I fall to my knees. “Please stay, Grandmother!”
“My Granddaughter, I wish with all my heart that this moment could be longer. But the veil must grow dense again so the cycle can go on, as Mother Earth and Father Sky have ordained. Your path is your own, but the gift of Samhain is to know you do not go on alone.”
She kisses me, her lips now icy. I shiver, chose my eyes. I am so cold, so dizzy, as the portal closes.
My eyes open and my warm kitchen slowly reappears. The warmth penetrates my bones, my soul and my heart. A last tear falls as I gaze at the cleaver, now so ordinary and rough.
I smile and whisper, “Thank you, Grandmother,” as my fingers lovingly caress the worn wood and dull metal.
“Grandmother, I honor you and all my Ancestors. Your blood flows through me and your heart has become one with mine this Samhain night. May it always be so!”
I turn out the light. Moonlight casts a glimmer on the dull metal blade.
Did I hear, “It will, always?”