On Skeletons and Conjuring

I’m on the precipice of November, a month that I have a long-standing difficult relationship with. But this year, I’m determined not to let November take me down. This precipice happens to exist on my favourite holiday. A most sacred day for those of us with pagan sensibilities. Halloween, or Samhain (pronounced Sah-wen) is our New Year’s Eve. The end of the cycle. The night when the veil between the living world and the world of spirit is most thin.

Tonight, I’m going to listen to the messages of my ancestors. Tonight, I’m going to heed my own spirit and try to hear clearly what it craves. Tonight I will conjure what I need, with the help of a legion of strong women who have come and gone before me.

Last year at this time, I hauled a fairly epic skeleton out of a drawer I’d concocted somewhere in the recesses of my soul. That skeleton would not be satisfied with a simple dust off. It clattered and shrieked and rattled its bones in every corner of myself. It came at me with such a fury, at first I couldn’t even see it. I thought my hair-trigger and my anger were sure signs that I needed help. Signs that I’d finally lost my ability to self-regulate.

Both were true. As I waited endlessly for a therapy appointment, and took up my pen instead, I realized that the skeleton was the source of the rage I was feeling. What’s more, I realized that the skeleton had been whispering to me, from the place where I thought I’d hidden it for years. Hissing dark truths that I didn’t have the courage to face.

Until I did.

I asked my love to help me heal. But in that, I found myself alone.

The truth is immutable. The affects of that truth are immutable. Intention is where we find the grey space. The space that allows us to create drawers for skeletons.

When I first met the skeleton, I didn’t realize it even had a name. I thought I’d invited him in, that I’d made him from the fabric of poor decision making and low self esteem.

The name for the skeleton is also immutable.

This skeleton has altered the course of my life in jarring, earth-shattering ways. The first time was when we met. The second, when I had the courage to open the drawer and set it free. We co-exist now, that bag of bones and I. I’ve taken its power away, and we’ve arrived at a sort of agreement. I will call it by its name, and it will content itself with keeping a cold, hard hand on my shoulder rather than shrieking and rattling my life into a shambles.

The skeleton likes to remind me that I’ll never really be free of it. Something happened this week (perhaps seeing Tarana Burke speak at Brock?) where I made a new kind of peace with that. I may never see meaningful atonement. Can such a thing even reduce a skeleton to powder anyway? I’ll own that skeleton, as he owns me, and the clacking of his bones will be a constant reminder of what I can never lose again:

I can never lose my ability to accept the ugly truth of a moment, a word, a choice.

I can never lose my ability to see a person’s darkness, even if I’m entranced by their light.

I can never lose my right to safety.

I can never lose my right to give my body consciously and with full intention.

I can never lose control of my faculties.

I can never lose the truth that I deserve.

I can never lose the reality that even in the midst of so much pain, there is space for joy (thank you Maya and Tarana).

I can never lose the sense that I deserve to heal.

There is a wildness inside me that I’ve long ignored. I’ve tried to wedge myself into boxes and labels for so many years, that I can almost sympathize with that incensed skeleton. I’m tired of behaving the way I’m expected to. I’m tired of trying to transform my pain by being ‘good’. I’m tired of trying to prove that I can fit.

I’m stepping into November with my own midnight cloak swirling around me. Instead of fighting the darkness, I will sink into it like the arms of the lover I have always dreamed of. It will hold me; sometimes tenderly, sometimes so I can feel that it’s stronger than I. It will whisper the truth in my ear, and accept all that I am. It will show me ghosts and demons and we will hold hands as we walk through our fears. It will cast shadows so the winter light feels warmer.

The darkness is where the best magic happens. I am finally ready to conjure my life.