Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Samhain of Coyote, Deer and Mist

On this old, dark, deep holiday—called Samhain in the ancient Gaelic traditions— which is a celebration of the dead, the ancestors, the harvest brought in, and also of a new year, I wish upon you all the blessings of coyote and deer, the kind of heavy mist that brings the colors of the land out, spiderwebs hung with rain, the tangled bare branches of buckeyes, the new bodies of mushrooms, springing up like perfect cities.

I find it beautiful, and instructive too, that in older, land-rooted traditions, the new year was celebrated at this time of gathering darkness, when all the buckeyes and the grasses and the apple trees are putting their energy down in their roots, for the dark sleep of winter. By the time our western New Year rolls around in January, new grass is already poking up its green hair, flowers are starting to open up again. We forget that all the work has already been going on, down there where the dead go—leaf mulch and fox and worm, the bones and flesh of all things. In the darkest time, new seeds are gathering up their tiny hearts to grow. What a different mindset this forces one into! To acknowledge that all growing things need first to root in the humus, the dark soil, to germinate beneath the ground, in the underworld.

Today I drove out to Point Reyes to look for bobcat tracks (it's beginning, to me, to feel like hunting for treasure, for little metacarpal pad grails). It was misty and damp and dark, and all the creatures showed themselves.

Let me just say, this was almost a car-accident in the making. I saw him dart off the road ahead of me, and, well, I just stopped the car and got out! Good thing no one was behind me (it is a narrow country road after all)— I was downright quivering with the joy of seeing this beautiful coyote so close. (This is a problem I sometimes have--driving slightly off the road to peer out at hawks, etc.)

He was no more than ten feet from me, and we held one another's gaze for quite some time before he began to slink away, glancing back several times over his shoulder. Myself, I was in a state of mild euphoria, staring after, wishing so badly to be able to hear him truly, to speak back. He is a trickster, a seducer too, that cream and gold and grey coyote with his almond-elegant eyes, watching with a tiny smile.

The bobcat of Abbott's Lagoon, padding past misted marsh rosemary. He (or she-- or perhaps a mother with adolescents?) uses the edge of the lagoon, it's marshy border, daily, hunting the waterfowl.

Quite a busy lady! These tracks are probably from this morning, between rain and mist.

And we surprised this doe while she was eating her afternoon meal. She only blinked at us with perfectly black eyes, those lashes delicate and tapered.

The spiderwebs held onto the mist, making their own small universes, places for chaparral-imps to lay down for a rest.

And the cows, far away between the hills, grazed gently, with black calves bounding between them.

In this dark turning toward winter, in this time of wild storms and the remembrance of the dead, the animals are beside us, always just over the fence, watching. Samhain is thought to be the day when the veil between worlds is thinnest, when ghosts and old spirits and magical creatures pass through the mist. I don't know if there were spirits out today as I walked the Abbott's Lagoon fog, but the wild things were certainly wandering, with that rich dark animal otherworld in their eyes. That is a deep magic, and we all walk amidst it every day-- past the pigeons on city streets, the hawks hunting over freeways, the mountain lions way up in the hills.

A deep dark delightful pagan new year to you all!


  1. the coyote tribe that lives along the creek in our woods have been barking in little spates all day. My (mostly) house cats have been going around looking like bristle bears with bugging eyes.

    1. oh, what a haunting sound it is! and beautiful. thanks for visiting!