Saturday, November 01, 2008

All You Souls and Saints

Happy All Saints from Donis. From 1988 to 1999, I ran a little shop and sold gift items which I imported from  Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.  For a decade, I was immersed in the Celtic culture.  Yesterday and today are very important days in the Celtic calendar, for at midnight between Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead thins, and we may actually be able to see one another.

All those Celtic peoples who came to the New World early on and settled on the frontiers and the back woods, from whom many, many of us descend, myself included, had a view of existence that is very different from the modern way of looking at things. We wonder how such realistic and practical people could have so readily believed in ghosts and haints and contact with the dead.  It had to be because they were ignorant and uneducated, we think, and obviously not as smart as we are.

But I say, au contraire, my friends.  As I travel through this life, I begin to have an intimation that things are not necessarily what they seem.  We perceive the world as we have been taught to do.  We see what we are looking for.

My great-grandmother, whom I was privileged to know when I was a girl, knew there were spirits abroad just as firmly as she knew the sky was blue.  She had seen them, and she believed the evidence of her own eyes.  Did she really see them, or was she deluded?  I’ve never seen a ghost.  Am I realistic, or am I blind?  How does a sighted person convince someone who has never seen that there is a color blue?

My protagonist, Alafair, perceives the universe in the same way my great-grandmother did, and I do not judge her for that.  In fact, maybe I’m a bit envious.

So happy Samhain (pronounce that SHAW-win), Dear Readers, a festival better known as Halloween, All Souls Day, and Celtic New Year.  For your treat this year, drop in at my website (, pick up your recipe, and leave me a comment between now and Nov. 8.  I’ll drop your e-mail address in a hat for a drawing to win a copy of my newest book, The Sky Took Him, which will be released in January.  Alafair, you will discover, is not the only member of her family who can pierce the veil between the worlds, and not think anything of it.


woodstock said...

Are ghosts real? Not the kind who drift through cemetaries and knock on the walls of empty houses, no. Not the Hollywood type of ghost. But standing in a mammography center, shivering in a skimpy gown and waiting for the discomfort of a diagnostic exam, I've looked up to see a watercolor of my mother's favorite flower on the wall and felt her quite close to me. And on another morning, I've awakened from a dream in which my mother, my youngest sister (from whom I was estranged at the time) and I sitting at the table in the large room in my mother's home. Her two cats were drowsing nearby, and the three of us were looking a photographs, or perhaps looking for a recipie, or perhaps just visiting quietly. Upon waking, I felt certain that she had come to me with a type of reassurance, the only type she could manage. And indeed, the estrangement between me and my sister has resolved itself, and we are in close and loving communication again. So, do I believe in ghosts? No, but more probably, yes.

Donis Casey said...

Fantastic! Woodstock, have you read Sinclair Browning's "Feathers Brush My Heart"? I think you may identify quite strongly with the compilation of experiences she relates.

Woodstock said...

Haven't read that one! I'll add it to my voluminous TBR situation!

Vicki Delany said...

Any plans for a Celtic-based mystery one day, Donis?

Donis Casey said...

I ought to do that, now, oughtn't I? The minute I read the question, Vicki, my busy little writing brain began working out a story. Thanks.

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