The final eight days of October are the most enlivening of my calendar year. My birthday falls in this window, as does the ancient celebration of Samhain, popularly known as Halloween. Endings and beginnings erupt with the sudden breath of air on candles, the acknowledgement of potent spirits that travel one realm to the other to make contact with the fleshy ones.
So it is I step into the dark as spirits knock upon the door. This year I will create an altar to the letter writers of the family. Grandma Nealson. Inga. Aunt Dolly. Aunt Clara. Those who faithfully kept relationship alive through large loops and tight scribbles on paper. Grandma's letters, originating on an Iowa farm, spanned the ocean to Denmark before I was born, but they live on in the home country and I have received copies of her spirit set to word. Inga, Aunt Dolly and Aunt Clara faithfully wrote through every expansive decade of my life; sent birthday cards with five dollar bills well into my adulthood, as if time stood still.
My altar will include the dead's favorite foods, pictures, a tablet of lined paper like the ones they used to write on, and an old ball point pen, preferably a freebie from a local business. It was never anything fancy. I will set a place at the table for them. Monday I will shop for Dr. Pepper (Aunt Dolly) and steak (Aunt Clara). I will adorn the altar with thimbles and an old glass measuring cup from Inga that reads, "Fire King ~ Commemorating 50 Years!"
This morning I drew a rune, asking the Spirits of the Old Ones to shed light on the tone of this period. DAGAZ emerged, caught in between two fingers as I raised my hand from the bag. Dagaz is the rune of breakthrough and transformation; of cataclysmic change, where energy reaches a saturation point and shifts to the opposite nature. It marks the end of one era and beginning of the next cycle. How does one not wink at synchronicity like this?
The season brims with magic and edgey possibility in the throes of autumn's last hurrah. Vibrant color enchants, withers, turns to brown and dies away. Nature refuses to let one languish in denial. In our living days, the point is to live a good death.
I mustn't forget a five dollar bill on the altar.