Magic on the doorstep

Stumbled out the door

From screen friends to open jaw

Three foxes at dusk.

 

Samhain: a time to mourn

 It’s been a rollercoaster year.  Leaving a job, starting a job, leaving a job, deciding to move to Scotland, starting a contract, packing my stuff, saying goodbye, leaving London, hiking the Welsh coast and moving to Scotland.  I would never have imagined – starting the year – the intensity and change that would arise.  And I feel genuinely proud, that – within 3 months of deciding – we managed to move out of London.  Something that has felt, for so long, like an insurmountable hurdle.  I suppose it was, perhaps, rather inevitable, after all that and the high of my hike, that things would catch up, once I finally stood still in my new home and country.

I’ve been feeling sad, angry, frustrated, despairing with my new life, new home, new job and new city.  It has felt like rather a bump down to earth.  Not the upward trajectory, I had visualised.  Going back to London for the weekend, I was reminded of all the good things associated with that city – the closeness of family and friends, diversity, transport network, news “hot off the press,” and acceptance.  I have always felt so accepted, so fully able to be myself, unreservedly, in that city.  Flying back, we wondered what we were doing in an alien land.  Why we had given that all up, to go North.  Teary-eyed and heavy, I made my way to work the next day.  On my journey, I journaled my “what’s on top?” and pulled (as much you can “pull” using an app on your phone) a tarot card.  It was the Seven of Vessels – Mourning.

This is a time to honour what is dead and mourn for what has gone.  Learn the lesson of letting go by offering thanks for cherished memories and being at peace with the past.

Wow.  It couldn’t it have been better for the way I was feeling internally.  Externally, I realised it was October 31st – Samhain.  My internal world and the external seasons had collided with one another, in incredible synchronicity.  I knew I needed to mark it – to celebrate the end of one journey and start of a new phase.  Throughout my day, several subscriptions popped into my mailbox suggesting ways to mark the day.  Excitedly, I rushed home – bought some tealights and a main-dessert-drink deal, and prepared for the evening.  I lit the room with candles, put the dinner in the oven, set the dining table with an extra place, and spread the coffee table with activities.  When my partner arrived, I was sitting in the silence and candlelight, expectant like a kid before Christmas.  Thankfully for me, he went with the flow.

Before eating our dinner, I explained that it was Samhain and that I had set an extra place for our ancestors.  We then named them, and shared a little bit about each one of them, with each other.  It was a beautiful and moving moment; so lovely to hear about people my partner knew that I never did, and what he remembers about them.  So lovely to make their presence real, known, valued, at this ancient festival.  I felt stronger – I feel stronger – knowing they are with us, as we stumble through this new land and place.  After eating, we moved to the coffee table.

I had set up three activities.  At the first station, we wrote down all the things we grieved, missed and were in mourning for.  Our pens flew through the scraps of paper, grieving for our old lives and everything that made them rich.  Then we spoke each one out loud and placed it in a stone bowl.  The next station was a tarot reading.  We worked through the five reflections, choosing a card each for each one, exploring the meaning together.  The reading was really powerful for both of us.  The last activity was to set intentions for the new year (Samhain marks the beginning of the Celtic Wheel of the Year).  We set five each, one for each of the cards we’d read, and wrote them on two post its.  To end, we opened the window and burnt our scraps of paper.  Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.  We flung the dust into the inky, drenched night.  The rain came down like tears, and there was healing, restoration.

The next day, I felt peace, lightness in my step.  That’s not to say that everything changed and got better after marking Samhain; crafting a new life needs time and patience.  But, taking the time to mourn the old one, created a spaciousness to move forward.  I am continually amazed by the power of ritual to help us move through life’s seasons.  And Samhain, I think, is a particularly profound moment in the year, for facilitating this.

 

Day 48: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

Leaving Llanberis

Sad heart, when will I be back?

A rainbow appeared.

2 miles (571.5 miles)

 

Day 47: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

Llanberis, at last

A fitting end, I spoke Welsh

To my friend, with pride.

“I really love Boris Johnson.”

(An old lady, a friend of my friend, with whom I chatted and had tea with.  To her, Boris Johnson is a source of amusement, panache – understandable when she’ll never be a victim of a hate crime buffered by his racist/islamophobic rhetoric.)

Bore da! Sut wyt ti?

Dw i wedi gwneud “Welsh coastal path”. Oedd o’n diddorol.  Dw i wedi dysgu am Lloyd George.  Dw i wedi mwynhau Llyn Peninsula.  Ges i amser da, ond dw i wedi angen y bwyta a y fed mwy.  

Dw i n trio dysgu Cymraeg.  Dw i angen ymarfer.” (My rehearsed speech to my friend)

4.4 miles (569.5 miles)

Stayed at hotel

 

Day 46: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

Back in Bangor, joy

Learning about the Welsh Not

Saori weaving

4.4 miles (565.1 miles)

Stayed in bunkhouse

 

Day 45: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

No photos today

Recuperating, mooching

Accepting what is.

3.3 miles (560.7 miles)

Stayed in bunkhouse

 

Day 44: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

Walk without delight

To reach the miles, I stopped.  Tears

Frustration, a choice.*

*Between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – my inner joy or external validation – resume or eulogy virtues.

17.5 miles (557.4 miles)

Stayed at bunkhouse

 

Day 43: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

Counting the mileage

Onward around the island

Beauty and the sea

22.4 miles (539.9 miles)

Stayed in bunkhouse

 

Day 42: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

Refreshed and renewed

By a massage and facial

Back to Anglesey

3.1 miles (517.5 miles)

Stayed in bunkhouse

 

Day 41: Walking the Welsh Coastal Path

Walking to England

It smelt like sewage, it rained

I reached the finish*

*The end (or beginning) of the path is Chester; but I had missed Anglesey and was going back to it, to avoid feeling pressured.

14.4 miles (514.4 miles)

Stayed in hotel