I no sooner finished typing up the October ritual than I realized that it wouldn’t be possible to do it as planned this year. While not as physically demanding as some of my workings, the October ritual can be a bit challenging if I’m under the weather, but I’ve always managed it. This year, however, I am largely immobile due to a knee problem and in a fair amount of constant pain due to the same. I realized, after a failed attempt to shop for supplies, that doing a full-blown solitary ritual is out of the question for the foreseeable future. I’m usually willing to push through pain and illness in order to get things accomplished, but this simply isn’t one of those times when sheer bloody-mindedness is going to work. The October ritual, as I think I mentioned in the original post, is my most important and really isn’t optional as far as my practice is concerned.
I’d bemoaned very briefly on social media that I’d had to postpone my ‘Halloween’ plans this year because I wasn’t able to be on my feet long enough to make them happen. An unexpected response to that post came in the form of a phone call from Sam’s daughter, asking what she could do to help. I explained that there really wasn’t anything that could be done, as I was referring to something of a religious/spiritual nature. If you can convey eye-rolling simply through tone of voice, she did… and reminded me that (in a momentary lapse of all reason) I’d given her a link to this blog so she was very much aware of what my Halloween plans were. If you’ve ever lost an argument with a strong-willed teenager, you can probably guess the rest of the conversation.
In the end, I agreed to let her help. I don’t know what form I was expecting this assistance to take, but it was certainly not what actually happened after I arrived at Sam’s house on Thursday. Sam’s daughter had rallied a dozen people to assist with every aspect of the evening – from getting me into the house (lots of uneven terrain and steps) to laying out wards for the ritual space. Not only did these wonderful people help me get through the mechanics of the work, they took an active part in it- breaking bread as silent group during the dinner, lighting candles, reciting the names of their own dead, and raising their voices in song. I am very humbled and grateful for their help and participation.
The span of those short few hours has given me a lot to consider and process. First, the personal, squishy stuff… For those who might recall my previous posts about Sam, I want to share (and do so with his blessing) that he is healing well. After months of physical therapy and being confined to a wheelchair, he surprised us all by standing, aided by crutches, during the reading of names. Again with his blessing, I’ll add that we are beginning to work to bridge the gulf that has sprung up between us and that we talked privately and face-to-face after the ritual for the first time in months. That he was willing to give help when it was needed in spite of a painful, silent distance between us says more about him than I can put into words.
Second, I just need to say very loudly and publicly that Sam’s daughter is an amazing young woman who deserves every happiness that comes into her life. I know she’s reading this, so I’m just going to say that I am very grateful that I can count her among my friends.
Finally, I’m going to have to reconsider being entirely solitary in my practices, at least as far as this particular ritual is concerned. I’m still processing the experience and I’m not sure yet where to take it from here. I’d always believed that bridging the gap between worlds is more difficult when other living people are involved, particularly if those people are head-blind. Thursday proved me wrong.
I need to give serious consideration to restructuring this as a shared ritual for future years. Thankfully, I have a year to think about this particular aspect of it. In the meantime, I have a gratitude ritual to prepare for November, including making a list of things and people for whom I am thankful. There are many this year and Sam and his daughter will be at the top of that list.