Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Poetry for the Esbat: "Unto the Hunter's Moon..." (2014)

Demons with cards under a full Moon,  from Patrick Valenza's "Whispers from an Inkwell."
Demons with cards under a full Moon,
from Patrick Valenza's "Whispers from an Inkwell." 

We can call it many things; The Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon or in my own previous labelings, the Blood & Bone Moon. In more southerly climes, one may still call this the Harvest Moon, but it's already a little late for us in this bioregion. There is snow on the mountains & we wake in the dark with frost coating most everything outside.

There are those who call it the Hunter's Moon & that makes sense to me because I have noticed that the Moose begin to look both increasingly sexy & decidedly more tasty at this time of year. The bucks begin to resemble long legged sausages & the ladies have such great looking haunches that I struggle with this weird quandary of wondering which I want more -- to have a rump & thighs like that for myself, or to gnaw on said rump & thighs. And thus, the Hunter's Moon.

A plump moose buck lounges on Autumn afternoon.
A plump moose buck lounges on Autumn afternoon.

This is also the time of gearing up for the end of October festivities. I have grappled with Samhain plenty, repeatedly even. And last year's Samhain (which fortunately I had no computer to with which to write about it) was such a colossal misadventure, that I am calling it quits on Samhain. Just give me Hallowe'en, please. 

Cards from Patrick Valenza's
"Whispers from an Inkwell."
This Moon's Poetry for the Esbat reflects this sentiment, an embracing of of the fairy tale, the folklore & festivity that is Halloween. This is not the modern, over commercialized, Hallowe'en box-store caricature of the holiday, but the truly spirited cultural celebration of the unknown, the dark places with the safety & security of a shared venture into the theatre of ambiguity. It is about traditions, about becoming what we are not & using that ruse to enter those places we "shouldn't" go... 

It's also an aesthetic adventure, if you do it well. 

And I am not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I am simply quite done with other people's versions of this time when the leaves turn & frost nips & strange spirits venture forth to brush elbows with the rest of us. I am done. No more psychodrama, no more tacky materialism, no more reconstructing of the "ancient past," please. I just want to dive into the celebration, swim deep & revel in each moment.

Cards from Patrick Valenza's  "Whispers from an Inkwell."
Cards from Patrick Valenza's
"Whispers from an Inkwell."
With this admittedly old fashioned sentiment in mind, I have found a piece submitted to Harper's Weekly in 1910. I suspect the commercialization of Hallowe'en was minimal at that time (at least the vulgar gore was). The poem speaks to the festive aesthetic, the celebration & the mystery. It reminds me of Palmer Cox's Brownie books which I like to read to the children whenever possible. One of the poem's strengths is that it does not neglect the importance of our Lady Moon's influence in all things Hallowe'en & even mentions the monkier "Hunter's Moon" -- perfect for this Esbat. 

I have also included some images of Patrick Valenza's not-exactly-Tarot deck, "Whispers from an Inkwell" which also capture that olde-tyme feeling, albeit a bit less festive than agonized (a mood generally characteristic of Valenza's work).

Hallowe'en, by J . K. Bangs
Published in Harper's Weekly, Nov. 5, 1910

Bring forth the raisins and the nuts--
To-night All Hallows' Spectre struts
Along the moonlit way.
No time is this for tear or sob,
Or other woes our joys to rob,
But time for Pippin and for Bob,
And Jack-o'-lantern gay.

Come forth, ye lass and trousered kid,
From prisoned mischief raise the lid,
And lift it good and high.
Leave grave old Wisdom in the lurch,
Set Folly on a lofty perch,
Nor fear the awesome rod of birch
When dawn illumes the sky.

'Tis night for revel, set apart
To reillume the darkened heart,
And rout the hosts of Dole.
'Tis night when Goblin, Elf, and Fay,
Come dancing in their best array
To prank and royster on the way,
And ease the troubled soul.

The ghosts of all things, past parade,
Emerging from the mist and shade
That hid them from our gaze,
And full of song and ringing mirth,
In one glad moment of rebirth,
Again they walk the ways of earth,
As in the ancient days.

The beason light shines on the hill,
The will-o'-wisps the forests fill
With flashes filched from noon;
And witches on thier broomsticks spry
Speed here and yonder in the sky,
And lift their strident voices high
Unto the Hunter's moon.

The air resounds with tuneful notes
From myriads of straining throats,
All hailing Folly Queen;
So join the swelling choral throng,
Forget your sorrow and your wrong,
In one glad hour of joyous song
To honor Hallowe'en.

Blessings & delight to you this Esbat, my friends.


Dorothy said...

So I just went and re-read your previous Samhain posts, well technically the 2012 was a first-time read for me. And its funny, because while I of course no longer observe Samhain either (for obvious reasons) ancestor veneration is probably the biggest part of my religious practice these days, so clearly I am coming at these issues from a very different place. For me, ancestor veneration has become inextricably tied to becoming a mother. In point of fact, I see becoming a parent as the ancestor offering par excellence, if you will. ;) Being able to collect photos has helped me a lot - its become so necessary to me, such an obsession, to see the faces of just a small few of the people beyond counting who existed so that I could exist, so that my son could exist. I feel blessed to have photos of great-great grandparents (and soon a copy of a great-great-great-grandmother's image, a 4th great in my son's case!) in my shrine. I feel like it is my duty to all of these people to preserve as many of their names and images and memories as I can and pass it on to my children (gods willing). My favorite uncle passed away in January and now he is the first of my family to have his ashes interred at the Anchorage cemetery, so that anyone could visit him there. Until now, all of my family's dead have been buried in other ground I've never been to, or their ashes cast to the sea. It is strangely rooting having someone buried here now, and it is for me very comforting, even if our family does relocate I will know exactly where to go. It was a beautiful gift he gave our family allowing us to do what would give us the most comfort in our loss of him. My family is celebrating Winter Nights and honoring the Disir this weekend, and then observing the Mysteries of Osiris at the end of November, when I will bring offerings to my uncle's niche in the columbarium (he was an eccentric guy who fostered my own eccentricities and I'm sure he wouldn't disapprove), so no Samhain for this household either, but I love Halloween all its own for the play and magic of it. Always have, always will. :)

Dorothy said...

Another thought, if I may, on where the ancestors reside. Personally, as rooting and comforting as having a grave to tend is - I don't look down toward the ground to talk to Them anymore as I used to attempt to. I look upward toward the night sky now. In most Kemetic traditions the ancestors are stars, magical beings who aid Ra in his daily journey and defend him from evil. This of course gave inspiration to the Thelemic idea that every man and woman is a star, an fantastically empowered and essentially divine being. And I think also of the Death Collect in the Gnostic Mass that leaves incarnation or not, up to the Will of the individual, be it on this planet or another, which leaves the ancestor vs. reincarnation conundrum squarely where Thelema leaves most things. Personally, I feel death is one of those unanswerable mysteries as much as the true nature/faces/ect. of the gods, but I'd rather err on the side of love for my existence and love for my people, and "honor the source" as you so aptly put it.

Moma Fauna said...

Ah, see, I had a feeling you might understand this a wee bit. I *do* have a mild (or "occasionally passing" may be more accurate) desire to make those ancestral connections -- as I attempted in 2012. And I most certainly would begin there again, with Grandmama. However, thanks to many complex, complexities (that's code for "I feel too private for the blogosphere"), my families on both sides are highly disconnected, un-rooted & not even very well tracked in some cases. My auntie just recently discovered that some of our recent ancestors we had always believed to be Prussian had lied a little. They were in fact, Bohemian (and just a bit secretive about it).

"...I see becoming a parent as the ancestor offering par excellence, if you will." Absolutely! Me too.

It's funny, after Barnabas died, I had a beloved & very thoughtful friend assert that our deceased feline companions also should be venerated as ancestors. This somehow made the concept of honouring the ancestors more personally relevant & I kept that thought in my mind as I carried his ashes to our home in the desert. Obviously we were not genetically related (maybe distantly if we want to get technical), but our lives were entwined as family which probably matters more in some respects.

But all this other Samhain *stuff* is so completely confusing to me. As you know, by the 31st it's already winter frigid darkness here, so no harvest festival. It is my birthday, so of course I have always associated it with celebration. Compound that with the traditions of costuming, trick-or-treat, Jack-o-lanterns, apples, etc. of Halloween & voila! Best. Party. Ever. And maybe I also think about the ancestors as something to celebrate, as opposed to sitting alone in the dark, silently staring at my own reflection & hoping for some kind of breakdown or deep-seated epiphany. And I cannot figure out what there is to "reconstruct" since it seems most of the current "Samhain" traditions are more recent (like, not ancient) as in, they are *Halloween* traditions... so why not just go ahead & celebrate Halloween? And then there is the spiritual theory & afterlife (or not) concepts to wrangle & I'm just done. No mas! I will live in blissful ignorance & do some ancestor veneration when it makes sense, how it makes sense. Someday when I figure that out.

As to our family, we just passed the Leaf Ceremony, have an Esbat coming up & are awaiting what we call "Mother Hulda's Night." >.< (I can wait!) then Halloween of course & I have been working on figuring out this Oneiric Rite (which will not be for children), but I am a bit of a perfectionist which complicates things. November does not hold much other than the cultural Thanksgiving, but with monthly Lunar observances and everything else on the daily calendar), I don't feel super compelled to search for things to add to the schedule -- that which is right will emerge or evolve & I will do my best to honour it properly.

All this would be great fodder for further discussion. ;)

Moma Fauna said...

Yes & yes & yes. Especially the unanswerable part. Since I have a *sense* (but not *knowing*) of multiple-spirit-parts in everyone & since they likely disperse in various way depending on temperament, constitution, climate, etc, I just get a flaked out feeling when someone is being too concrete about death (especially since so many people make wildly contradictory assertions with definitive *certainty*). I prefer to be comfortable with uncertainty, let the sprits/gods/universe/mechanics do their thing & just honour what I *do* know, the source.

Chas said...

Hallowe'en has become the perfect multivalent festival for both adults and "lass and trousered kid." Spookiness, mischief, the assumption of different identities, masking, and ancestors. Maybe it's the Carnival of the (metaphorical) North plus the Dead of the Dead? Or the Carnival of Shadows? Help me out here. ;)

Moma Fauna said...

I like "Carnival of Souls." Although I admit to stealing that title from a fabulous older b/w film (1962) which was made even better by being filmed in Salt Lake City and using the original Saltair building out on the lake as the set for the film's climax and disturbing conclusion. Eerie is always eerier when there is a sense of strange or altered familiarity. ;)

Dorothy said...

I LOVE that movie! :D

Moma Fauna said...

Awesome -- Sounds like it's time for a viewing!
And doesn't that name just say it all? Pretty much covers all the bases. Except maybe the darkness part.

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