As I wrote, to almost nobody last week, I began my new year at the New Moon. Sure, the family had a good meal — one of the rare red meat meals for me and the Minotaur — and lit a fire in the outside drizzle. We passed around a horn and “toasted, boasted, and vowed” in sumbel style. There were serious conversations and light hearted joking as well. We farewell’d what we wanted gone and greeted what we wanted to carry forward. It was merry and bright around the fire.
But I didn’t feel merry or bright. I drank a bit too heavily of the passed horn filled with mead we brewed two years ago….meaning more than one single slim glassful in my booze-lightweight age. Earlier in the afternoon before the utter failing of daylight, you see, I had gone to the Labyrinth for year’s end rites there. No names, merely a tolling of the brass bell – once for every year of the current ongoing, never-ending wars and then a silent walk to the center. And then a walk back out, slowly — the intent being that as many old pagan traditions say — tis the day they dead can come back to join the living for a night and I would lead them back on that pathway wherein I walked them inwards.
Usually, this is a neutral walk — even on the years when I occasionally gruelingly read the entire list of names of Us and Coalition dead in both the Afghan and Iraqi wars. But this year, every step back outward felt like I was walking from a place of peace into a sort of hell. I felt laden with grief and despair, my mood blackened as the astrologically “black” moon invisible in its orbit. That dreadful sense of “something dire coming” possessed me and the helplessness of it made my chest hurt. “Death inbound” is how I characterize this feeling and I hate it so much. And in less than a week — yes, five Americans dead in our ongoing foreign adventures.
Do I believe in prescience? Lets say my experience makes comfortable disbelief impossible. It is somewhat typical at the end of the year — whether in October or December — to question, to formally doubt, to make new choices and discard what baggage one can leave in the dust. I’d like to leave this grief, this fear, this dread behind me. But it follows me like a shadow, a vampiric shadow that feeds on the anxieties and miseries of this election. It is not just fear of a President who reminds me of Beast Rabban (Harkonnen); it is the utter cruelty of his followers in being perfectly ok with his denigration and diminishment of women, immigrants, people of color, gays, lesbians, disabled people, poor people. One would think that those people have never met real people in their lives!
I cast about for newness, for purpose, for connections as I feel more hermitic than ever. The German ladies I left over the casual white privileged callousness of one of them want me back — well, five of them want me back. Can I go back? It dawns on me that the majority wants me back because I told off the domineering one; but is that the role I want in a circle I had considered friends? I tell myself it wouldn’t be my only role, but I still fear just becoming a “novelty” of some sort to women I wanted to be friends with on common basis of work, family, and so forth. I was too under the weather this year to go on the 2 1/2 hour drive a Day of the Dead party; and stricken to realize how few friends I have and all of them very far away.
And yet I find myself considering cutting more connections even in online life. I am so angrily sick of the Apple i-Phone nonsense of touch-pad failure and no word on Apple acknowledging or fixing it in ever more impossibly expensive phones, for instance. Thus, as my phone begins to give me grief, I consider shutting off the account entirely and “bundling” in a old school house phone with the equally hated Comcast/Xfinity. This means I’d be largely disconnected from all online associations – my aging Mac Mini stutters when I use it, and if/when it fails I may not even replace it. A whole group of semi-connected associations will fall away like autumnal leaves then, too. I have found that nobody wants to write old style letters…nobody at all. For years, I’ve sent fifty or more holiday cards on various holidays and got back fewer than a dozen. Connection apparently is not allowed to take longer than five seconds or cost even forty five cents?
It troubles me that we have the promises of technology about never being disconnected, but it feels as if as humans, we are more disconnected from each other, more isolated than ever before. Recent reading has told me I am not the only one to notice this with a sense of despair — Sebastian Junger’s book Tribe attributes this biology/psychology skewing trend with facilitating lasting PTSD, depression, and suicide. We seem to be forgetting how to be people for each other! So my end of year does feel very dark as the cold rain falls daily now and colored leaves fall to leave monotone firs looming like wraiths in the gray sky. I remind myself that gray days mean I must try harder to find something light.
But I feel like embracing the darkness, exploring every shadow and misery is what I really will be doing this month before I put up the lights and decorations for Yule. I’m not looking for a sunshine enema. I’m looking for the cause of the darkness, I think. Just typing that makes me want to slap myself for grandiosity. But there it is, I just can’t get around the feeling and sensation that, to coin off of Tolkien, one must go through the dark mines of Moria to find light on the other side.
It may take some time.