It will come as no surprise to the faithful readers of this blog that Halloween is one of my favorite celebrations of the year. October 31st also celebrates the ancient Celtic spiritual tradition called Samhain, a pagan religious festival welcoming the harvest and prompting preparation for the dark half of the year following the celebration. In other words, specifically those words written by the great George RR Martin, winter is coming. This Halloween another natural phenomenon will occur called a Blue Moon. A Blue moon is the second full moon that happens within the space of a single month, in this case, October of 2020.
I don’t need to count the ways that 2020 has been a year for the history books and most of us are anxiously waiting for it to become so. We have all been challenged in ways we had never anticipated and I hope to never be again. Eight months into a global pandemic. Riding the waves of a contentious federal election. All of us grounded and quarantined in unprecedented ways none of us could have ever imagined in the 21st century of this very modern world. Don’t we understand science and biology and chemistry and all of those other gifts that would save us from such an enemy? What about the history we are doomed to repeat? Apparently, we still have much to learn.
Perhaps though, this is the very time such an event should occur. Just at the moment when we all got complacent about how we treat the earth or how we treat each other. We all believed dictators and vigilantes and hate and division would never be tolerated in the vast, diverse, free, democratic, 21st-century country we live in. And yet, it is happening. The division is as clear as a line in the sand. At times, it feels we are back in the 1950s. Or the Twilight Zone. Maybe some of us are mesmerized by the moon. We seem to have forgotten how we all came together as one during the many challenging times in the history of this nation. It is absolutely evident that this is one of those times.
The moon is simply a chunk of space rock caught within the magnetic field of the earth, lighting up the night when it is full and bright, hiding its face when it is new. Yet much magic and mystery are tied to the moon’s phases, rituals performed to maximize the push and pull of its energy, countless songs, stories, and poems have been written about the moon. Lovers compare each other’s beauty and their ardent passion to the moon. Farmers consult the Almanac for the correct moon phase to plant and harvest. The seasons are marked by the movements of the moon. It has no light of its own, it is a mere reflection of the sun’s light. And yet so much is attributed to the moon. The tides of the ocean are connected to the pull of the moon. The behaviors of humans and animals alike are attributed to a moon phase. Fairy tales and myths are rife with moon magic.
The phrase “once in a blue moon” means something that is rare and occurs very infrequently. The next time a 100% full blue-moon will appear on Halloween will be 2039 (Farmer’s Almanac 2020). Called The Hunter’s Moon, it seems auspicious that it will happen this year, of all years, a year of never before and hopefully never after. The Celtics believed that for 24 hours on the last day of October and into the first day of November, the veil between the worlds thins. Some believe it is only then that those who have passed can cross over to the spirit world. But it also means the spirits can cross back over into the corporeal world. Sometimes it feels like malevolent spirits are already here, trying to divide us and sow hate and mistrust. They need to be chased back to their own dark place. It’s the reason we dress up and carve pumpkins to scare them away. But not all stories are fairy tales and I wish that were all it took.
Earlier this month, we watched a documentary about the day John Lennon was killed. It is the 40th anniversary of that tragic event. John’s message to the world was always to give peace a chance and all we really need is love. Decades later, his words still resonate especially during this very chaotic time. We are on a precipice or maybe riding a moonbeam. I have to believe that simple human decency is the right way to interact. I have to believe that kindness matters. We have had so little of it these past months and years. As a society, as a people. As a nation.
It’s time to use all of the tools in the toolbox. Our voice to vote. Our will to believe. Our willingness to act and yes maybe even some howling at that huge moon on Saturday night. What if, as John Lennon said, love is all there is? That can only be a good thing. Happy Samhain, friends.