“What is to give light must endure burning.”
I was born during the season of death.
It’s one of the unfortunate downsides of being a Scorpio. Your life and the year’s end are inextricably linked; you begin where all things end. Luckily time is a wheel, or a spiral, or whatever – we can just agree it’s not a straight line, so nothing really ends, any more than anything really begins. Everything just changes form.
My Scorpio brethren and I are therefore lifelong skin-changers. We are addicted to transformation, to the point that we frequently destroy ourselves just for the chance to rise. (Most of us don’t realize we’re doing it – it’s not exactly an accident, but it’s certainly not something we’d actively choose.)
You might think that sounds all spooky/romantic and like I’m trying to make us seem cool, but the thing is, it’s not cool. I mean, obviously I think we’re the awesomest sign of the Zodiac, but what people tend to overlook is that all of that relentless self-examination, transformation, introspection, and deep-sea diving is fucking painful. It’s exhausting. Being incapable of leading a shallow existence means you’re pretty much always on the verge of drowning – which is why raging alcoholism and suicide are rather common on this end of the star chart. We tend not to be happy people. People who think too much rarely are.
Of course now that I’ve told you all of that, I have to kill you.
Aside from any personal reasons I have to find this time of year difficult, it’s that continuous pull of the Underworld that makes this both the most amazing season and the most emotionally arduous. Not to mention, it’s the lead-in to the time of year I hate most, societally speaking – the holidays. At the same time, though, the air tastes like Witchcraft and the energy of the season sounds like the rattle of dried leaves and a raven’s call. There’s nothing more delicious than Fall.
Pumpkin spice lattes. Just sayin’.
The last few years I’ve felt trapped by my own life. I don’t know when I let myself become so powerless; I certainly haven’t always been. When I think back through the ghosts of Samhains past, I think of how my answer to “Did you do anything fun for Halloween?” used to be something like, “I channeled the dark gods, spoke to the ancestors, and lit candles with my brain.” I’ve wandered through the days half-asleep, so tired I could barely think, carrying the weight of the world in both hands and a backpack.
The point is, my black little Scorpio heart does not approve of how I’ve been living lately. She’s curled up in her bower, presumably dressed in something slinky and drinking something dark red we’ll just say is wine, rolling her eyes at me.
“Powerless,” she mutters, accepting a cherry from the hand of one of her lovely acolytes. “Nonsense. Willfully blind and mindlessly craven, perhaps, but never powerless.”
She’s the part of me I’ve called upon to help me struggle to my feet when I was bleeding in the dirt; to keep on walking even through fire; and to gather up the stones the world has thrown at me and build worlds to populate with my imaginary friends. I locked her away a long time ago for reasons I won’t go into now. Oh, I can never be rid of her entirely – I need her to write what I write, after all. But I’ve kept communication to a minimum. I didn’t want to open the door to that darkness in myself because last time it ended rather badly. I don’t need her, I thought. I will transcend that part of myself, focus on light happy things.
The result? I did not, in fact, become a lighter happier person. I became instead a pale imitation of myself. The only way to transcend your darkness isn’t to transcend it at all, but to embrace it – what you run from will only chase you down. If you are willing to accept and even revel in all of your parts, not just the “acceptable” ones, you can become a whole integrated being, and as a force of nature, virtually unstoppable. There is nothing in this world more powerful than someone fully alive.
I disconnected from myself – my body, my truth, my life. My health declined. I lost all sense of integrity – my ability to honor commitments, keep my word, speak honestly, has eroded. I developed an almost paralyzing fear of death.
Whatever the opposite of a Scorpio is, I’m there – well, except for the sarcastic bitchy part. I’ve always had that bit nailed.
This Samhain, then, as I feel the Wheel turning under my feet and wonder if I have any Dramamine in my purse, as I finally do something brave in 2014 and leave behind the home I’ve lived in for 10 years to take the first wobbly steps toward something new, I have realized that every time I turned away from that dark part of myself, I’ve turned away from the chance at real change. Every time I ask myself why I can’t change my life, I can hear her sigh, the black-vinyl-clad elephant in the room.
Today I’m standing in front of the brick wall I built, holding a sledgehammer (and safety goggles, of course – a safe metaphor is no accident). I have no idea what to expect, or how I’m going to proceed, but I get the feeling that once I get started, once I make the smallest crack, there will be an enthusiastic push from the other side.
All I have to do is take a swing.