Samhain, when the veil is thin
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To my dear newsletter friends and family, <<First Name>> 

I'm sure I’m not the only one who has experienced grief.

In fact I’d be surprised to ever meet a person who hasn’t crossed paths with grief. I’m a few weeks out now from the passing of my dad, a close uncle and a slightly more distant uncle, all with in a relatively short space of time. A month, give or take that has really shaken me up and encouraged me to process a lot of my feelings around loss, home, family and community.

I want to start this by saying thank you all for being a community to me, knowing when I write out what’s on my heart that, there’s people on the other end of my emails means a lot.

My dad passed away in New Zealand and I am in Canada, as at present not able to go back to the Southern Hemisphere, which has made attending funerals, and getting hugged by loved ones harder. Some of you all know that my family is religious, some of you I guess do not, especially if you’ve recently subscribed, following my Tarot Card project - thank you, and here is a raw insight into why I produce new cards really slowly. It’s been almost 3 years and I’ve made peace that I create new cards at a speed that feels good to my capacity to handle making art, telling stories and surviving this adventurous life I’ve chosen / created.

Having a religious family means that my spirituality is important to me, maybe a way to fill the hole left by the religion I was taught as a home-schooled kid, and opted to leave behind when I moved out of home as a teenager. My Dad has had cancer for the past 9 years, when it first happened I was more naive and hadn’t even crossed my mind really that parents don’t live forever. A few years on, moving to Australia and having a really distant /strained relationship with my parents later and he ended up in hospital and I got a call to go home and say my good byes. When you have an image of someone in your head and then you see them again and they’re a frail shadow of their former selves is such a shock. I spent every day I was there by my dad’s side at the hospital. Reading stories to him, talking and more than anything listening to his thoughts on religion and my sexuality and the “consequences” thereof.

Something in my head cracked at that point. I used to be so angry and frustrated, that this thing about me that I won’t pretend doesn’t exist would cause such a rift, such apparent pain for my parents. That conversion conversations over many tears and old hospital sheets would be their top concern for me. That I would become a good Christian housewife and find a husband. It used to make me so angry that just being “gay” was such a hard and off limits topic, that telling my parents the joy, and excitement and heartbreaks I’ve experienced in loving people of all genders and sexualities, wasn’t something we could bond or connect over. What if I wanted to come out to my parents as a non-binary person, or gender fluid - how would that even be something I could dream of bringing up when “gay” meant “hell” and “pedophilia” (in men), apparently. The idea they believe this makes me feel sick.

Then something in my head snapped - it changed. I gave up fighting, and let go of being so damn mad. Seeing death in the face changed my anger to “thank you for caring about me, and thank you for expressing how much you love me”.

Continued, after these photos of me in the forest....
I let go of the guilt of expectations that I’d be able to please my parents with the happiness and kind of life they wanted for me. I was able to thank them for caring about me. My dad requested his funeral not be about him. He wanted 45 minutes of the story of how Jesus, came to die for sinners so they might go to heaven, and experience eternal life. I wanted a celebration of life, stories, memories and sharing of who my dad was as a stubborn quirky person with really strong opinions. (Sound like where I get it from?). Instead I got a crackly whats-app call for and hour and a half and 5 minutes of tender stories written by my brother and I about missing our dad, before the sermon started.

Selfishly I was pissed off. I was lonely. I was in a car park in my van, my home on wheels in the cold autumn sun, borrowing WiFi to call back home. I wasn’t snuggled up between to warm caring aunties, borrowing a wrinkled handkerchief from the sleeve of a cardigan when my feelings leaked out my eyes. I was on mute on a phone half a world away, sharing my frustrations via text chat with a cousin.

A couple of weeks later I went to the islands. Salt Spring Island, a magical place in the middle of the gulf islands off the coast of Vancouver. It was drizzling and wet, the most delightful weather to talk about feelings and go walk in the forest. Surrounded by wonderful friends who all share similar spiritual views as I do, I angrily ranted about how sad and hurt I felt not getting what I wanted from the funeral. One of my friends in a beautifully kind way, threw back at me, this thought, which I’m going to attempt to put into words.

"Flossy you have your spirituality and you know how important it is to you and as do your parents and their beliefs. It the only way they know how to communicate, for your mum as she looses her partner, its her strength just as much as your magic, tarot and rituals are yours."

All the angry energy was sucked out of my sails. We talked about rituals and ceremonies of memory I could do myself to feel the mourning and letting go that I needed. A seed of forgiveness and compassion sprouted in my heart. Samhain, the veil is thin, witches gather to start a new year, farewell the dead, remember the mighty dead, ancestors and welcome to this world the newly born. Our Samhain ritual was Sunday night with a large group of dear ones. At this ritual I watered the seed of forgiveness and compassion in my heart with tears. But most of all that seed isn’t just for my dad or my parents, it’s for me.

Forgiving myself for not being the person they dreamed I’d be when they decided to have kids, forgiveness for being the odd one out in my family, and probably adding to their grey hairs. Forgiveness for choosing my happiness over choosing the life my parents wanted for me. Forgiveness for pushing my family and my brother and sister away when I needed them most because I felt rejected for who I am. Kindness and compassion to myself for not being able to be in New Zealand to support or be with my family as they all grieved three family deaths.

Kindness and compassion that grief is messy and hard, and it will continue to be hard in spurts and that’s okay. Kindness that I can focus on my art and creative projects as and when I have the spoonie energy to do so.

Maybe I’m stubborn like my dad was, but I hope I’ve learned softness towards myself and others to be more open to our differences, to decipher the love in words that feel hurtful, and be glad when others have really strong faith in their beliefs, despite my resistance.  To observe my own judgement or resistance to others, and where I'm avoiding facing the essence of those characteristics in myself. 

Thank you for listening,
NEW Queer Tarot Cards
NEW QUEER TAROT - The 4 of Cups
Growing up, I realize that I’ve taken so many things for granted when I was a kid. I came from a poor Russian family, I’m a refugee immigrant, in Canada because of my LGBTQ status, I realized that what I had back home, I could have taken with more thankfulness.  As a 14 year old, I could go to school, feel safer, where it is less dangerous to be queer. I fell in love being able to be yourself, back home people judge your because of how you are. Read more
Click to check out some the previous Queer Tarot Cards
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