E. Winter Tashlin

Samhain for the Queer Dead [PTAS]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | November 02, 2013 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: circle, Lament for the Queer Dead, Lunacy, pagan, PTAS, queer dead, Samhain, Sparky T Rabbit

This is the first of a regular Saturday feature I'll be doing called "Picture Tells A Story" or "PTAS" to fit with our title character limit. Each week I will post a photograph, usually one of my own, that illustrates or informs the accompanying post.

This evening around 5pm a group of our friends and family-of-choice will be gathering on the beach where this photo was taken, at sundown to celebrate Samhain (pronounced sow-en), a pagan festival of the Dead.

ocean_moonrise.jpg

Many ancient peoples, and modern neo-pagans for that matter, believe that this is when the barrier between life and death is at its thinnest. It's a time for making offerings to the Dead, mourning those we've lost, and looking inward to see what in ourselves perhaps should be let go of as well.


It will be an almost entirely queer circle, and death is something that the LGBT community has become all too intimate with in the last thirty years. There will be a number of ways that we take pains to recognize and honor the people that our community has lost, but the one that always hits me hardest is the singing of "Lament for the Queer Dead" by Sparky T. Rabbit, of the band Lunacy.

It's an old song in the scheme of things, coming out in 1991, and describes the experience of the AIDS crisis from the perspective of a survivor. So as my little circle marks the end of the summer and the transition into the long night of winter, here are some words we'll be holding in our hearts:

"Lament for the Queer Dead" by Lunacy

Gone away into the night
Gone away into the ground
Gone away into the fire
So many gone

Ashes flying on the wind
Ashes scattered on the sea
Ashes turned into the earth
So many gone

Empty house and empty bed
Empty room and empty town
Empty sky and empty arms
So many gone

Falling down a well of grief
Drowning in a sea of despair
How can love begin again
So many gone

Oh I can see you now standing with the others
On the deck in the blue and purple twilight
And we hold each other close on a ship of many lovers
And we talk hand in hand before you go
I can see the faces there many ages many colors
And they all gaze far away into the evening
There are friends there that I know and so many many others
And they're eager for their journey to begin

Some have come there with their loves and some have come alone
They all embrace in the light and in the shadow
And we say our farewells with our arms around each other
And you tell me I will see you again
And you tell me I will see you again

I am happy for you then
On your journey to a home
But when I wake all that I know
Is you are gone

I can dream you in that place
Laughing smiling healthy and strong
But when I wake all that I know
Is you are gone

Some days tears are all I have
Some days anger and despair
And some days dreams are all I have
Since you are gone

So fly away my love on the violet ship of beauty
Fly away through the night into the morning
Oh fly away my love on the silken purple sails
Fly away through the darkness to the dawn

Oh fly away my love on the violet ship of beauty
Fly away through the night in the morning
Oh fly away my love on the silken purple sails
Fly away through the darkness to the dawn

Fly away into the night
Fly away into the stars
Fly away into the dawn
To lovers arms
To lovers arms

(Photo by E. Wintersong Tashlin ©2013 All Rights Reserved)


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