A Children's Story for Samhain.
(Author Unknown Edited By George Knowles).
It was a very dark night in October, with a full Moon hanging in a cloud-filled sky. The air was crisp with the feel of late autumn, and the doorway between the worlds was wide open. Carved pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns lit the porches of houses in the little town, and laughter of children dressed in costumes could be heard up and down the street.
But this was a sad night for little Beth Drummond as she climbed a small hill behind her house. In her arms she carried her pet cat Smokey, carefully wrapped in his favourite blanket. Her father had already dug a small grave on the top of the hill, for Smokey had died earlier that day.
"Do you want me to go with you?" asked father Drummond. "Ive dug the grave beside MacDougal's at the top of the hill, "he said gently. Beth clearly remembered when their pet dog MacDougal had died after being hit by a car, she had cried for ages afterwards. "No, I want to go by myself," she answered.
Beth stopped at the top of the hill and knelt beside the little grave. She carefully laid Smokey's blanket-wrapped form in the earth and covered it with soil, laying several large rocks on the top. Then she began to cry, she had been holding it back till then wanting to appear adult in front of her parents. "Oh, Smokey, I miss you so much!" Beth looked up at the Moon tears streaming down her cheeks. "Why did he die?" she asked.
"It was his time to rejoin the Mother," said a deep, gentle voice in the darkness.
"Who said that?" cried Beth. She looked around a little frightened, but could see nobody.
"Dying is part of the cycle of life, you know," said the voice. Then one of the boulders on the hill stirred into life.
"Who are you?" asked Beth a little startled, but strangely no longer frightened. The moonlight shone down on the little woman, and Beth could see she was not human.
"I'm a troll-wife," said the creature as she came to sit across from Beth.
"This is a sad night for both of us, child. I too came to this hill to bury a friend. "The troll-wife wiped a crystal tear from her cheek. "My squirrel was very old. Still, it makes me sad."
Beth stared at the troll-wife. The little woman was the colour of rock in the moonlight, making her face hard to see, shrouded with hair like long strands of moss. Her eyes shone bright like shining crystals. She wore a dress woven of oak leaves and tree bark.
"My squirrel and I lived together for a long time," the troll-wife said. "We often talked to your cat when he was hunting here on the hill. Smokey and I were friends. I shall miss him, too." The little woman patted Smokey's grave gently. "Sleep well little friend. When you are rested, we shall talk together again."
"But he's dead," Beth said, her voice choked with tears.
"Yes child, but this is Samhain. Don't you know the ancient secrets of this sacred time of the year?" The troll-wife motioned for Beth to come and sit beside her. "It is true that our friends have gone into a world where we can no longer physically touch them, but the Mother has given us other ways of communicating with them. We can do this at any time, but the time of Samhain is the easiest."
"I don't understand how this can be done," Beth said, "or why Samhain makes it easier."
"At this time of year," the troll-wife answered, "the walls between this world and the world of souls and spirits are very thin. If we are quiet and listen, we can hear our loved ones and they can hear us. We talk, not with spoken words, but with the heart and mind."
"But isn't that just imagination," said Beth, looking down at Smokey's grave, tears once more clouding her eyes. "Like my thinking I can sometimes feel MacDougal get up on my bed at night like he used to do?"
"Sometimes it is, but mostly it is not imagination, only our friends who have come to see us in their spirit bodies." The troll-wife reached up her hand and patted something Beth couldn't see on her shoulder. "Like my friend the raven. He's here now."
Beth looked hard and saw a thin form of hazy moonlight on the troll-wife's shoulder. "I've seen something like that at the foot of my bed where MacDougal used to sleep," she whispered. "I thought I was dreaming." She jumped then as something cold and wet nudged her arm. When she looked down, there was nothing there.
The troll-wife smiled. "Close your eyes and think of MacDougal," she said. "He has been waiting a long time for you to see him."
Beth closed her eyes and at once, the form of her little dog came into her mind. His tail wagged with happiness. She felt a wave of love come from him and she sent her love back. Then she felt the dog lie down against her leg. "Can I do this with Smokey?" Beth asked.
"Not yet," the troll-wife answered. "He needs time to sleep and rest for awhile. Then he will come to you. He needs this time to adjust to his new world, and you need the time to grieve for him. It is not wrong to grieve you know, but we must not grieve forever. Life must go on."
"I never thought of it that way," Beth said. "It's kind of like they moved away, and we can only talk to them on the phone."
"It's the same way with all creatures, not just animals," said the troll-wife. She stood up then and held out her hand to Beth. "Will you join me, human girl? Although I buried my friend the squirrel this night, I must still dance and sing to all my other friends and relatives who have gone on their journey into the other world. For this is a time to honour our ancestors."
Beth joined the troll-wife, and in the moonlight they danced an ancient slow troll dance around the top of the little hill. Then Beth watched quietly while the troll-wife called out troll-words to the four directions, words she couldn't understand. Deep in her heart the girl felt the power of the strange words, and knew they were given in honour and love by the little troll-wife.
When the troll-wife was finished with her ritual, she hugged Beth. "Go in peace, human girl" she said, "and remember what I have told you about the ancient secret of Samhain".
"I will," Beth answered. "But will I ever see you again?"
"Whenever the Moon is Full, I will be here," said the little troll-wife, "and especially at Samhain".
"I wish I had something to give you," Beth hugged the little woman, "you have taught me so much". She felt tears come to her eyes again.
"Then let us exchange tears for our lost friends," she said. The troll-wife reached up a rough finger, catching a tear as it fell from Beth's eye. It glistened on her finger and when she gently touched the finger to her cloak, the tear shone there like a diamond in the moonlight. Beth reached up carefully and caught one of the troll-wife's tears as it slid down her rough cheek. In her hand, it turned into a real crystal.
"Remember the secret of Samhain and remember me," said the troll-wife softly as she disappeared into the darkness. Beth walked back down the hill, the crystal clutched in her hand. Her father was waiting on the porch.
"Are you all right?" her father asked, giving Beth a hug.
"I will be," she answered. She opened her hand under the porch light and saw a perfect tear-shaped crystal lying there.
"Did you find something?" asked her father.
"A troll-tear," Beth answered. Her father smiled, for he too knew the little troll-wife and the secrets of Samhain.