It’s Halloween. All Hallows Eve. Samhain. And as the veil thins this night, I sit here in the Georgia woods and give thanks to all those who have gone before.
Here, in these Appalachian Mountains, where I walked on this eve, one feels the presence of the Cherokee. The feathers in the picture above were a visual gift to me on my walk, somehow stimulating so many memories.
I read somewhere that the Cherokee considered these mountains to be sacred land and not a place to live, but to honor. Sometimes when I walk the in the woods adjacent to my cabin, I feel this. That, perhaps, we are not supposed to live here. Perhaps we are just supposed to worship here.
The walk I enjoyed this Halloween evening reminded me somewhat of Scout’s walk in the woods, costumed as a ham, in the book To Kill A Mockingbird. The leaves were rustling, the branches were creaking, I was utterly alone, but, like Scout, perhaps not utterly… Just spooky enough for Halloween.
In my solitude, I not only thought of the indigenous folk and creatures to whom these forests belong, I also thought about my own ancestors.
On my paternal side, my people came from Ukraine which was an ancient center for horse-partnered nomadic tribes. Today they are engaged in complicated struggles for survival. But this I know; the magical parts of my DNA come from my Ukranian forebears. Thank you for these gifts of imagination, horses and magic.
On my maternal side, my grandmother had an Irish mother, but was orphaned and sent on the “slave trains” to work on a farm in North Dakota from the age of eight years old. She somehow met my British grandfather, who had trained jumpers for the royal family in England, and lived with him on a farm in Manitoba.
My Uncle Norman was named for the cowboy who sat around the fire outside with the three older children on the farm as my grandmother gave birth to my uncle at the farmhouse.
My grandfather was deported back to England after the farm had failed and he had moved the family to California in order to work in a factory. A “friend” reported him as being there illegally. My mother still remembers him being taken away by two men in suits driving a black car. The children never saw him again. The family tattered without him.
My Uncle John, who was the oldest and had once been so strong…my mother has memories of him driving the brothers and sister from the farm in Manitoba to the farm in North Dakota in a horse-drawn wagon during an emergency and being the man of the family, for a while at least, after grandfather was deported…. My Uncle John eventually slid into depression and disappeared too. He was known for years as “crazy Uncle John”. Not crazy really… just sad, overwhelmed and lost…
I thank these folk, who endured so much, for my own strength of character, my love of horses, my love of land, and for my own endurance in this, my life, that has been so challenging.
On this hallowed night, none are lost. Not to me. I remember you all, even if I never met you in this life. Your blood flows in my veins. Your lives express themselves in my life. My love for nature, for land, for animals, for horses, for humans, for all the arts, for the indigenous folk…all these loves came from you. Thank you.
I sing your song
It’s the hymn of those who’ve gone before and those who carry on
Your work is hard
But the future of us all rests on the shoulders of your heart…” (Pioneer–The Band Perry)
Hmmm.. as I write this, it just started snowing here in the mountains…
…echoing the white of the feathers I saw earlier in the woods…:)