Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
The Secret Heart of Samhain
I was picking apples one afternoon. I'd worked my way down the row into the oldest part of the orchard when suddenly, for just a moment, I began to wonder if somehow, like some character in a story, I had stumbled out of this world and into Another.
I don't know how much you know about apple trees. They say that originally they came to this world from the Other World. Whatever the truth of that may be, what I can tell you about the apple trees of this world is that they always bear flowers first; then come leaves, and later fruit. There's never a time when they bear all three at once. In this, they are said to be unlike the orchards of the Land of Youth, which in fact do just that. The undying trees of that Land, so they say, bear flower and leaf and fruit at once, all at a time, together. For in that Land, all times are one, with never any winter.
And that's just what I saw in the orchard that day.
The old tree was dying: that was clear. Most of it was already dead. The one living branch had leaves and a few stunted apples: one final bearing, a life's last harvest.
But there among the leaves and the fruit, incredibly, were flowers: blushing pink buds and pollen-y white stars. The tree was blooming in October.
Apple trees set the flowers for their next spring's blooming in the autumn. All winter, like a seedling in a seed, each blossom sleeps curled tight inside its own hard, red, little bud, waiting. Somehow, in its dying, this old tree—as dying trees sometimes will—had touched those trees of the Undying Land where all times are one, with never any winter.
What is the secret heart of Samhain? Is it a skull, an end?
Well, I don't think so.
I think that the secret heart of Samhain can only be a beginning. A Bealtaine.
A spray of apple blossom.
Sparky T. Rabbit
Please login first in order for you to submit comments