Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

On the Edge of Darkness: Hallows Reflections 2016

It’s a gray, dim day here in Sonoma County, under a foreboding blanket of low and heavy clouds. Forecasts are for showers throughout the day; it’s one of those Halloweens where parents crane their necks and scowl at the sky throughout the day, wondering whether they’ll get away with a dry window during trick or treating.

Which seems like a pretty good metaphor for this entire year.

I’ve been scowling at the sky and wondering just what kind of fresh hell may be coming along a lot, this year. Now with a week left until possibly the most important U.S. election since 1860, there are still no clear answers, but one thing we know for certain: the casualty count for this turn of the Wheel was terribly high.

If there were an afterlife, it would have a markedly improved soundtrack after this year. The loss of David Bowie and Prince and Lemmy Kilminster and other innovators in music felt like a series of sudden and shocking blows. Bowie, at least, had the characteristic genius to turn his own death into an art project; with Blackstar, he created a suitable work for Hallows listening every year going forward.

I think what strikes me this year at Hallows is that grief has been a near-constant presence, rather than a seasonable observance. If it wasn’t a famous death—or the dreadful drumbeat of black and brown people murdered by police—it was a major figure in my life and eminence grise of our local environmental movement, or a family member of my circle brother and sister. And if it wasn’t an actual death, it was something like one: the death of any pretense of civility and tolerance on the part of one of our country’s major political parties; the here-we-go-again disappointment of hope that the left will ever get its act together enough to see the big picture and act accordingly; the ponderous, heavy fear I feel in my bones for people of color and minorities of every stripe in the face of emboldening awfulness in our society.

In eight days, there will come a crisis point, and hopefully light—however murky, for there is no purity in this world—will triumph over darkness. Hopefully the system which has managed to persevere for 240 years will lurch onward rather than collapsing into fascism. Hopefully, the arc of history will continue to bend towards justice for the downtrodden, and policies informed by science rather than by bigotry and fear.

Closer to home, I can hope that our work here will continue to unfold fruitfully. We have some exciting things coming in Atheopaganism, with two presentations, a discussion and a ritual, coming up at the Pantheacon conference in February, and Moon Meet, an Atheopagan gathering, in August. Things to look forward to, and new friends to meet.

I hope that the losses you have sustained are leavened by the joy you were brought by what has now passed away. That you, too, can see pinprick stars of light in the darkness of these times, and that as we enter the season of celebrations you enjoy love, friendship, family, comfort and safety.

Together, let us make our way through the darkened landscape. May the Wheel turn.


  1. Thank you for eloquently and simply stating the dominance of grief within the near-past…I see it everywhere also and it weighs heavily on me because I don’t feel I can prevent more tragedies from occurring, near and far. My elderly dog who has cancer is slowing down, stumbling on occasion, terrifying me with her mortality; she models for me how to accept change and roll with what comes. It will be hard to see her go no matter what.

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