This is the first Samhain since my Papa Crow died, it's a time when my ancestors believed the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, a time for honouring spirits and celebrating the cycle. He, and I , were agnostic about what happens after death, but it's hard to not feel like he's still around, as my Ma said, I don't have to understand everything, so I've dealt with this the same way I do with anything I can't quite get my head around, ritual making.
Pa was everyone's best friend, when dancing at a festie, over copious cups of tea in the kitchen, or at 3 in the morning when everything hit the fan. He adopted any good person he met into our family, he taught me how to love, hug and be open. He was my best friend as well as my dad, he was so understanding and always knew how to fix thing, I have a rule that if I couldn't tell Pa, I probably shouldn't do it and that has taught me how to be.
This is a plait of my mothers hair, my parents are so intertwined I can't think of one parent without the other, they've both been both my father and my mother, I've never known a romance quite like it and I've been really lucky to grow up with that model of how to love and respect each other.
I listened to music that reminded me of Pa while I plaited strands of Ma's hair, stuff we'd dance to together at parties and nights out (Moby- We Are All Made of Stars, Fatboy Slim- Right Here, Right Now), stuff Pa would quote to me to get me to come to him for a hug when I was sad ( Tom Waits- Come On Up to the House), one of Pas favorite songs that he saw performed at the Isle of White festival and we played at his funeral (Jimi Hendrix- All Along the Watchtower) a song that has special significance between Pa and me (Brian Eno- Put a Straw Under Baby) and a song he'd sing me as a child about where sailors, which Pa was for years, go when they die (Fiddler's Green.)
This is a locket Pa gave me for my birthday before he died, it's filled with some of his hair I cut off when Ma and me did his vigil until his body was taken away, strung on Ma's plait, wrapped with fabric off cuts from the shroud I made him, wrapped in copper (the three of us taking apart an old washing machine in Ducky Cuddles Cottage to scavenge this wire out has always been a very fond memory.)
I found an old packet of rizzlas when we were tidying his stuff (he'd stopped smoking a long time before he passed, but we used to sneak cigarettes together.) I smoked one of the rizzlas and as there's only 10 left I'll keep them on my altar.
Recently I went to Robin Hoods Bay to carve Pa's crow symbol into slate, like he used to leave wherever he went (he also used as his signature on his poetry and drawing, everything he made, so I have it tattooed on me.) I climbed out onto a rock surrounded by water, sang fiddlers green and come on up to the house, said goodbye, and threw it in.
Ritual is incredibly important to me, it puts order to what I can't understand, and catharsis to things I have no control over. I keep performing seeing off rituals for Papa Crow, hoping one of them will give me closure, but they don't seem to, he still feels like he's with me, whether that's psychologically or something else, I'm not going to question it. Ritual and symbolism is also very important to my art and writing, which Ma and Pa have always been my biggest champions and influence in, so I'm going to accept it and be thankful that he'll always be with me in some way through that.