While my friends and I were busy tweeting Samhain blessings to each other, another terrorist attack was unfolding this time in New York with 8 dead and many injured as a lorry was driven directly at cyclists.
Samhain is not just the start of the Pagan and Celtic new year for many of us, it is also the time of the dead. A time when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. A time when we honour those who have died, honour our ancestors and welcome their presence among us.
While we like to think that death is a natural part of life and should be celebrated, the reality of death can be violent and brutal. We rightly condemn the terrorist attacks whether they are the occasional ones in western countries that headline across the world or the regular ones in places like Iraq and Syria which barely make the news. Our prayers should be for a peaceful and natural death in the same way that we often pray for a peaceful and natural life.
But death is a part of life. We should celebrate it and we should welcome it when the time is right and fighting our mortality is as pointless as it is bizarre. Of course using death for political ends is so obviously wrong that it hardly requires mention but we should not forget that it is not only the terrorists that use death for political reasons. Wars are fought for politics and for resources, wars that are no better than the terrorism that we despise.
It was Peter Ustinov who said: ‘Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.’
So as we move through the time of Samhain from the secular Halloween to the equally secular Remembrance Day, I will be wearing a white poppy to not only remember the dead but to reaffirm my calls for peace.
I hope you have a blessed Samhain.