Night of the Winter Slaughter

Darkness comes quickly these days.  The weather is changeable, almost unsure of itself.  There are winds, rain, sun and frosts. As if it is exploring its own emotions as the veil between the worlds becomes porous, allowing the spirits of the dead to visit the land of the still living.

This is the third harvest of three, the others being Lammas and Mabon.  It is a harsher notion of harvest.  Whilst we tend to romanticise the grain and produce harvests of Lammas and Mabon, there is harsher reality around the harvest of Samhain.

The land is getting colder and food is becoming scarce.  Our ancestors would cull the older and infirm animals both to save on food and shelter for the remaining animals, and the meat of the culled animals would be preserved either by smoking, drying or salting to provide food for the Winter Months.  This time of year is cold enough to ensure the meat won’t spoil whilst being prepared, but not yet as cold as deep-Winter so slaughtering could still be done outside.

It sounds brutal and far removed from our lives of convenience today.  But their lives depended on this ritual.

As writers we have to cull our own writing.

Drafts are often full of stray words and conflicting ideas.  We have to be ruthless in looking at our work from a distance and understanding what might work and what might not.  We have to wield the cut option from our work.  Streamlining it, so only the fittest words, themes and ideas remain.  We have to be able to edit our work.

It’s hard.

Our words are part of us.  It is hard to acknowledge when they no longer earn their keep.  But the weak words must go so the stronger words can grow and become nourished as they gain the needed focused attention.

Sometimes it gets easier.

Blessed Samhain.



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