Out of the Darkness

The ancient Celts believed in the thinning of the veil, which is a thinning of the separation between the physical and metaphysical/spiritual realms. This is canonically thought to happen in the October timeframe, Samhain, the beginning of the darker part of the year, the time of the harvest, the mid-point between autumn equinox and winter solstice. I’m not a person who identifies as spiritual per se, but I do have weird senses about things.

And something’s coming.

Psychology tells me that it’s hypervigilance – the result of a long period of time in my life where I survived a traumatizing situation by learning to pick up on very subtle shifts. Literature tells me that it’s foreshadowing of some impending plot twist. Science tells me that scent is the biggest trigger for memories, and October has its own scents, and every year I (just like many others) go into a nostalgic, otherwordly overdrive. Like I’m remembering something that didn’t happen in this lifetime.

Whatever it is, be it real or fanciful or completely in my head, I feel that my veil is thinning. I feel something coming. I’ve been feeling it for a few months now. Something is coming my way, but I can’t see it clearly. What I do sense is that it’s not something new, but something from my past. And it’s not hurtling or hurrying – it’s creeping, dancing around me, lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to appear.

There’s a song that’s been living in my head for a few weeks now called Out of the Darkness by Matthew and the Atlas that’s about (in my opinion) being haunted by something. That thing that tugs at you, sits behind your shoulder (as the song says) – the thing has followed you in the past – the thing you’re always a little worried might come back.

You can listen to it behind the cut.

Here are the lyrics if you’re inclined to read them, but it’s the last verse that gets me:

I was afraid someday you’d return
Unchanged at my door as you’d once been before
The flutter of fortune or a bringer of gloom
Out of the darkness and into my room

Out of the Darkness, Matthew and the Atlas

I’m not sure the singer is addressing a person, per se, as I could say these words about phenomena and experiences and people alike. And it’s the word unchanged that haunts me. It’s saturated with a sort of weariness.

What demon would I not want to grapple with in its original form? Why is a new or evolved demon somehow less frightening than the one that keeps coming back, unchanged? The same old spook. The same misquoted bravado. The same narrative. The same excuses. The same recurring nightmare, the same symptoms, the same ghost.

Maybe because new battles are in some ways easier to fight – they inspire new solutions. It’s the old ones that wear you down after a while, that trigger the things you thought you were over but were just buried.

I write about this ghost, what I think it is, in my paper journal a lot. There were a few things in my life whose specters are forever woven into the fabric of who I am, inextricably so, in a way that I couldn’t undo without undoing all of myself. You learn to live with those threads – we all have them – but you don’t necessarily need to wear a garment made of ghosts. You don’t want it to bleed into the other strands, the ones that are holding the whole damn thing together, whatever the thing is – sanity, soul, sentiment.

And so my silent wish to the universe, to the thing hurtling toward me, is this – Whatever you are, whoever you are, if you come back…please come back changed.

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