In Memoriam: Trayvon Martin

I’ve been largely silent regarding the issue of Trayvon Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal. As a white woman living in Boston, I don’t see the ongoing effects of racism in the same way that I did when I was living on the north side of Poughkeepsie, or growing up in a housing project in Stamford. But racism still affects me and those I love. I’d like to take a moment to honor the friends and loved ones whom I know deal with racism on a daily basis — and the friends and loved ones I never met or never got to know well because of the racist and segregated society in which I live.

From a New York Times editorial published July 14, 2013:

While Mr. Zimmerman’s conviction might have provided an emotional catharsis, we would still be a country plagued by racism, which persists in ever more insidious forms despite the Supreme Court’s sanguine assessment that “things have changed dramatically,” as it said in last month’s ruling striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

Samhain and the Shedding Skin

Of all our holidays, Samhain is the most obviously pagan in its origins. Halfheartedly assimilated by Christians as Halloween (or “All Saints’ Day” for the truly pious), the focus on the underworld — on death and dying — is hard to reconcile with a tradition that promises everlasting life.

The thing that makes this holiday essentially pagan is its acceptance and observance of death as a natural part of the cycle of existence. Like the Death card in the Tarot, it does not mean stagnation and decay. Rather, it symbolizes the difficult yet rewarding pain of transformation — think of a snake shedding its skin. At Samhain, we shed the remains of what we’ve harvested in the previous year and turn toward the inner work.

It’s a time of endings and beginnings. With darkness encroaching but not complete, it is the twilight time — not one thing nor another. In the half-shadows of the shorter days, with the final flare of the summer sun alive in the changing leaves, and the chill of late autumn in the air, we become aware of the thinning veil between this world and the next. We remember those who have passed before us, grieving their passing and celebrating the brightness they have brought to our own lives.

This October as we strolled under a corridor of yellow leaves, I bemoaned the passing of summer’s warmth and light to a friend.

“Maybe it’s important to focus not just on what’s passing, but on what’s germinating,” she replied. “This is the time of year for apples, and cider, and gathering inside with your tribe around the fire.”

As I continue through a major life transition, I see my tribe changing and shifting. I’ve had to shed some things in order to make room for others. The empty spaces leave me trembling and terrified. But even as I weep and grieve, I see how the Goddess fills those spaces with new life, new energy. I look ahead to what is germinating, trusting in the the wisdom of all the crones who have gone before me, and who gather with me now behind the Veil.

Recipe for Drizzling – Poem by Katrina Kostro

Recipe for Drizzling

Pick three dying daisies whose petals are still attached
Detach the petals and lay them
   on an olive green clay plate
Sprinkle powdered sugar over the daisy petals
   and tell them just because they have exceeded
   their time of living, they are not powerless
The poem is to lift up their self-esteem
Play old Bruce Springsteen; make it loud enough for them to hear
    so it’s not as if he has died as well, but
    don’t blast it, because the dead daisy petals are delicate
Have a cry
Collect your tears in a tall dark blue glass
Stop crying now
Sing along to a couple of Bruce lines, so the petals
    know you’re listening too
Get an eye dropper
Dip it into the dark sea in the blue glass
Fill up the dropper
And drip a few tear-drops over the petals
    so it’s as if they have been drizzled on
Turn off Bruce
The daisies will be angry
Tell them to treat others as they are treated
And it will start to drizzle outside

– Katrina Kostro
From Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-Po LISTSERV
Richards, Starace, Wheeler, eds.

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