Annie and Grandy on my 6th birthday, Samhain 1962
For my Halloween-Samhain-birthday gift to myself this year, I took a powerful healing journey under the guidance of two local shamans. Against a backdrop of achingly burnt-orange trees outside their huge picture windows, Evie and Allie accompanied me on a sure, swift, thorough swoop through my inner landscape to pick up lost pieces and resolve longstanding hurts. It is wondrous work, full of metaphor and symbol that is truer than truth, poetry in capital M motion. My first shamanic journeys, with Fred Tietjen in San Francisco in 1991, were a watershed experience in my growth as a Witch; they reunited me with my earliest nourished wholeness in the natural world. This week’s journey reminded me, in turn, of the connected fullness that shamanic work reveals as our core state. And this time also put me in far deeper touch with another aspect of the experience, the knowledge of not being alone, of having all the helpers and guides I need to call on, whether spiritual, animal, or ancestor.
The ancestor guide I feel most strongly with me now is my grandmother, Marjorie Hughan Rockwell. She’s the “mother’s mother” in my poem “Samhain.” Here she is, in the only photo I know of myself with her. I’ll be thinking of her a lot this Samhain, placing her picture on the ancestors’ altar tonight and sending her a note via candle flame.