BurnedThumb

Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


halloween


  • The Rune for Harvest

    on a wooden background, a pewter pendant with a rune on it

    This is the s- rune, which is never a good one to pick. In The Wren in the Ash Tree, which formed the last section of Haggards, there are lines about runes:

    And the völva is casting the runes.
    The leather bag is thick,
    tough and unbending,
    and gives away no secrets,
    but the stones mutter
    and grind against each other.
    The black angular lines –
    tree, hammer, wealth,
    ocean, ice – will come together,
    fall in the right configuration,
    give their bleak verdict soon enough.

    The rune for harvest is the same
    as the rune for the day of reckoning.

    Even the right way up the S is ominous, and if it is reversed, it foretells the apocalypse. That bit of The Wren is pretty apocalyptic, though it does move to a more positive mood later on (and the wrens are quite cute!), but the S-rune feels appropriate for the time we are in, not altogether doom-laden, but preparing for winter, warm clothes, jam and pickles and facing the realisation that what you have done is what you’ve got.

    Now work in the garden is coming to an end, the trees are losing their leaves in a blaze of magnificence, and before we start thinking about next year, next time, I’m making my reckoning. A few weeks ago we reached a whole year in this house, and we are no longer the newest on the estate. I’ve seen the seasons change, discovered the potential of the garden, worked out how we are going to use the rooms, begun to understand the weather and the seasonal changes. The house and garden have revealed their personalities, and roots are being set. There are poems at last. We have more herbs and less grass, more bookshelves and fewer cardboard boxes – we gave thirty boxes to one of our newer neighbours when they were moving in.

    We have weathered several changes in our family awareness as we navigate the ways to live with neurodiversity, and the need for more support. Some things will never be as easy as we hoped, but there is more kindness and help than we imagined. We have learned new ways to be involved in our community and different responsibilities. You have to deal with many more guisers at Hallowe’en here!

    Hallowe’en is a good time for this kind of evaluation. My pagan and witch friends are celebrating samhain and their ancestors, my folklore friends thinking about ghosts and hauntings and my own tradition makes this a time to remember our dead – the famous ones in Heaven and the dearer ones we hope are there, but who are still with us through the communion of saints. And I know everyone is trying to finish up the last jobs, the last maintenance so everything is ready for Christmas.

    Harvests are not all feasting and celebration, especially this year when there seems to be so much more cause for anxiety, but when the harvest is in, there is time for rest and recovery, for remembering and coming together, creating space for something new.

    an apple hanging from a branch against a blue sky


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