A Visit to the Roadhouse of The Dead

Earth Conclave

October 31, 2008


   The evening was perfect. The sky was crystal clear. The Samhain stars shone with intense beauty and promise. The spirit of wonder and delight filled the Halloween night.

    We, the Earth Conclave, an emerging Heroic Community, celebrated our beloved dead with a delicious feast dedicated to the Ancestors this beautiful Samhain evening. Throughout the meal, we had toasted our dead; Ancestors of Spirit, Blood, Culture, and/or Love. We had also toasted each other while sharing and declaring our lives and pleasures with each other and the multiverse. It was the perfect meal to prepare us for our journey later that night to the Roadhouse of the Dead to to dance The Dances That Renew the Balance Between Death, Life and Rebirth, The Dances That Weaves the Fabric of the Multiverse, The Dance of the Many Petaled Irish Rose and other Dances of Mysteries.

    An hour after our feast, over 40 of us gathered in the Main Hall next to the Community and the Family Altars. Mark, Jessie and Kristie cast a strong, supportive, yet permeable circle. Mark then fully grounded and prepared the group of wayfarers for our sacred journey to the Roadhouse of the Dead. Greg began to drum as Mark took us out side to follow the winds through the woods to a wide set of elegant stone WPA styled steps leading to the banks of the Mississippi River. It appeared that the steps had not been used for many years. Grass and trees had grown through the stair’s cracks and crevices. Moss and lichen completely covered some of the steps. An atmosphere of abandonment filled the air. Slowly we began to descend the limestone steps, stopping at the stone viewing platforms along the steps zigzagging down the steep hill to gaze at the stunning riverscape in front of us.  We eventually made it down the steps and onto an even older dark stone path leading to a long broad silver-gray wooden river dock lit with 19th century gas street lights.

    At the end of the dock what appeared to be a thick grey cloud or fog back shrouded the rivers waters. But as the cloud came closer, it transformed into a ghostly white Mississippi paddleboat. It was magnificent. The boat was a chalky white with silver and gold trim. It was immaculately clean. A banner of glowing green light declared, “Welcome Earth Conclavers!”

    We walked to the gang plank that had just lowered itself onto the dock. It was clear that this was to be our transport to the Roadhouse of the Dead. An invisible orchestra began to play on a balcony just above us as we boarded. I could see the instruments; the woodwinds, the strings, the percussion instruments and an organ. But we could not see anyone playing them. Them may have been playing themselves, but I felt that the instrumentalists were simply invisible.

    The paddleboat began to pull away from the docks and make its way into the middle of the mighty Mississippi heading downstream to the Roadhouse of the Dead. We all relaxed and enjoyed our journey. Our favorite foods and drinks began to float right to our hands through the clear autumn air. The orchestra began to play waltzes and many of us danced for what seemed hours on our way to our destination.

    I noticed a thick fog bank crossing our path at a sharp bend in the river. It began to rise from the river’s surface, eventually  growing so high as to block out the stars and so wide as to completely hide both river banks. The fog was so dense that no light was able to come through it. Mark and I stood together holding hands as the paddle boat began to enter the fog. The boat and its passengers seemed to dissolve into the mists. As I was engulfed by the fog, my flesh and bones began to tingle and shiver as moister collected in my hair, eyebrows and mustache. Tiny rivulets of water began to run down the back of my neck, the sides of my cheeks and drip off the end of my chin. I felt as if I was being throughly cleansed.

    When we emerge from the fog bank, I was suddenly completely awake, aware, alive and dry. Viriditas and exuberance freely flowed throughout my body. It was thrilling to just breath in the air. The sky was even clearer than before. The stars shown brighter. The wind smelled as if it had just been new born on distant pristine mountain heights. It seemed as if all of my senses were heightened. Mark and I looked into each others eyes and laughed out loud simply for the pleasure of being alive.

    Suddenly we found ourselves escorted by ancestral whales (Blues, Narwhals, Orcas, Humpbacks and Belugas), dolphins (Bottlenose, Dusky and Boto), huge ancient megalodon sharks and Great Auks. They swam in and above the river forming an odd wide halo of aquatic ancestors completely surrounded the paddleboat.

    I noticed groves of ancestral trees (willows, cottonwoods, red maples, bald cyprus, birches and dogwoods) making their way along the river’s banks towards the Roadhouse while preparing to sing their songs of renewal and restoration. I also spotted flocks of birds swirling and spiraling over head (Carolina Parakeets, Passenger Pigeons, Labrador Ducks, Laughing Owls, Snowy Egrets and others) as they made their way to this years magical convocation. It seemed as if more folks than ever were gathering from far and wide to join the Dances.

    As we went around a bend in the river, we got our first view of the Roadhouse of the Dead. It was all lit up. Glowing orange paper pumpkin and red dragon lanterns hung across the huge veranda. Other shinning lanterns of myriad shapes,styles and colors hung in the branches of trees as far as I could see. There were pyramids of lit jack-o-lanterns lining the sidewalks to the front entrance of the Roadhouse. Huge bonfires burned brightly throughout the grounds and under the river. The whole site was decorated in a Carnival theme this year. The lawns, pools, gardens, decks, patios and beaches were packed with throngs of beings dressed in their best for the great events of this sacred evening.

    There were already many different boats, ships and other water going vessels tied up at the docks of the Roadhouse: including houseboats, flying boats, clipper ships, submarines, East Indiamens, birch bark canoes, the Titanic and other passenger ships. I noticed that the air strip was also filling up fast. Among other things, there were dirigibles, hot air balloons, biplanes, jet airliners, and even a few Douglas DC-3 on the tarmac. I also noticed that the parking lot was also filling up with all types and styles of wagons, carriages, Conestoga wagons, bicycles, trucks, buggies and autos (everything from Ford Model Ts to a 1936 Rolls Royce to a shining new Prius).

    We debarked down a long ramp onto a seasonly decorated dock. We made our way along the dock and onto a sidewalk leading to the front steps to the main entrance of the Roadhouse. The grounds of the Roadhouse were even more packed with celebrants in their finery than when we first sited it from the middle of the River.

    Hung high between the first two post of the front entrance porch/veranda was another grand banner with glowing green letters brightly declaring ‘Welcome Earth Conclavers!’ I realized that there were more than just our own living group visiting again this year, when suddenly the green glowing letters slowly morphed into Japanese welcoming another group that had just joined us in front of the Roadhouse. I laughed out loud with delight when I realized that the green lines were made up of some kind of ancestral glow worms that changed the greeting into the language of each group coming to join the celebrations.

    At this point the Earth Conclave group began to break up and to wander about mingling through the crowds on our own. It was also at this point that I realized that no matter where my folks  went, I was still aware of where they were. I had truly become our Tour Guide to the Roadhouse of the Dead for the night. I had an awareness of the threads connecting all of us throughout our visit. I may not have been actually able to see each and everyone of us, but I clearly knew where everyone was.

    As for myself, I decided to go in the front entrance and head directly to the main dancehall where the Dances of Life, Death and Rebirth had already begun.

    My Great Grandmother Lena greeted me at one of the huge double doors which opened into the amazing hall with a hug and a kiss smelling of June roses. She whispered into my ear, ‘Don’t forget to vote.’

    I laughed.

    ‘Go join your friends,’ she chuckled as she gently pushed me into the hall.

    It appeared as if the Dances had already started and was well on their way. I wondered how long the living would be allowed to stay. I decided to simply stand and watched the dance for awhile as I flute a glass of Champagne.

    I saw my beloved Rick, Donald and Dicky Lee dancing the Dances with a group of ancestral Radicle Fairies, Two-spirits and Galli. Rick waved but kept on dancing. I saw Hera and other Mysterious Ones standing on stage in front of the orchestra calling out the dance steps. I saw Spark (my old friend the indigo winged horse) flying in formation with other horses around and around the center of the vortex of this particular stage of the Dances.

    In the center of the room, sharks of all kinds (hammerheads, great whites, lemons, nurses, blues, angels) were swimming deosil in a broad bands through the air, weaving through the rhythmic patterns made by flocks of birds (Bald Eagles, Golden Pheasants, Red-tailed Hawks, House Wrens, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Resplendent Quetzals and Hyacinth Macaws) flying wittershins forming another band of magic. Bears, honeybees, humans, dogs, lions, dragonflies, snakes, cats, lightning bugs, butterflies, cattle, wolves, wild pigs and other ancestors danced line dances on the floor and in the air, building a powerful container around the sharks and birds. In the very center of this working bellies facing out, four whale sharks in the quarters and four megalodon sharks cross-quarters stood on their tails, their snouts almost touching the ceiling of the ball room. In the center of this circle of sharks a mass of the palest of pink rose petals spiraled and twirled up through the floor and out through the ceiling above. These amazing petals sparkled with golden and silver motes of light and sang a song that was only heard through the bones. Narwhals slowly swam high above us all, almost brushing the walls, in a double circle, the outer circle moved wittershins, the outer circle moved deosil. It came to me that there were also ancestors working the ground under the dancing floor. I  noticed swarms of beetles and earthworms dancing the Dances deep in the dirt under us. I notice prairie dogs, gophers, shrews and moles dancing the Dances, creating Burrow Patterns of Power. I noticed black and white dragons dancing the dances to the drumming of the Dark Elves in deep hidden underground caverns. All of these folks were working subterranean magics that I had not noticed at any other of the Dances I had attended.  The rest of the room was filled with dancers of every description, ancestors and Mysterious Ones from every age, realm and world were completely engaged in the dancing of the Dances that Weave the Multiversal Tapestry. The orchestra and choir began to make a kind of music that I had never imagined before. For what felt like hours, I simply stood there swaying and toning along as best I could. And then, it was time for me to leave the room. It seemed that the the Dance was moving on into a segment that the living are not allowed, or perhaps not even able to witness.

    I made my way back out to the grand central hall. Standing in a small group, I notice some old friends deep in conversation. Donald, Dick Lee, Violet Flame, Perry Tilleraas and three golden skinned Mysterious Ones were so focused on their conversation that they didn’t even notice me at first. One of the Golden Boys was the young Queer God of Abundance and Plenty that I had met this last spring, 2008. I hadn’t met the others before. They were talking about something to do with the Work that was about to begin anew in a few short days.

    I heard someone say, ‘Do you think that they will remember to actually do what needs to be done? The hard work starts this coming Wednesday.’

    I heard someone else reply, ‘Well, at this point, all we can do is inspire and support.’

    It came to me that they were talking about living human beings. They all suddenly noticed that I was standing there. My beloved human ancestors were delighted to see me and hugged and kissed me. The Golden Ones were not so sure.

    ‘Have you been standing there long?’

    I assured them that I had only been there for a few minutes. They slowly shook their heads as Donald said, ‘Good, we were talking about the living. You will know what we were talking about soon enough.’

    It was apparent that it would be a good thing for me to move on. I said my good-byes and made my way to the dinning hall to see the Annual Grand Halloween Cake and Pie Competition. It was as amazing as ever. Perfect pies and cakes lined the display tables. This competition still reminds of what State Fairs would be like if they were held as a celebration of the sacred.

    I went into the kitchens to say hello to Julia Childs. She was quite excited to be one of the judges for the Cake and Pie competition again this year. Julia was just getting her pen and competition forms ready to join the other judges to begin the taste tests. They had already done the decorative crusts and frostings judging. Julia was very pleased with this years entries. I agreed with Julia completely.

    As the judging continued, I wandered out onto the veranda to simply people watch. All of this time I was keeping an eye on, so to speak, all of the Conclave Folks. I wondered if I would see anyone walking about.

    I didn’t see anyone. I took the time to really enjoy the grounds that were so perfectly decked out in such a marvelous Brazilian Carnival style. Huge colored bonfires dotted the landscape. Costumed acrobats were performing. Fire dancers were dancing. Singer were singing. I saw trees dancing in the distance amidst a large group other folks. The clouds had come to dance amongst the stars. The bats were performing a new ballet. The dragons were presenting a new opera. It was a happening place, that’s for sure.

    I was amazed and all most overwhelmed again and again by how full of folks the Roadhouse was. Also, I had never seen folks in such hight spirits. It was clearly a time of joyous celebration. It came to me that a promise of new change, a beginning of new ways of being, a great victory and been fulfilled. An odd mixture of joy, ecstasy and calm filled me.

    Suddenly I head the invisible orchestra on the paddleboat begin to play. I knew that it was time for the Earth Conclavers to go back home. I sang out to them, knowing that they were at least hearing the sound of the orchestras’ drums and began to walk towards the docks. I soon found myself surrounded by all of the Earth Conclavers.

    I counted each person, one by one, as they pass me while stepping off of the gangplank and onto the deck. Yes, we are all accounted for. The orchestra began to again play a waltz as we all began to dance around the deck laughing and crying softly. It seemed to me that it had been a delightful, yet bittersweet visit for many of us.

    As we slowly moved up river, I watched the Roadhouse festivities continue. I noticed that there were carnival booths now set up all the way to the rivers edge. The crowds appeared to still be growing. I noticed groves of trees dancing with huge flocks of moths and butterflies. The whales, sharks, dolphins and Great Auks were still engaged in their dances in and above the river, joined now by seals, walrus, dragons, snakes, dragonflies, albatross, humans, etc. The cloud people were now dancing in spirals with the wind and lightning folk high about the Roadhouse grounds.

    As we rounded the river bend heading towards the fog bank, fireworks began to fill the sky. Beautiful. Amazing. The whole Conclave crowd oohed and aahed, completely delighted by this part of the Samhain magic. The fireworks continued as we entered the fog bank.

    We slowly emerged from the fog bank in to a quiet autumn night. We were close to fully entering Midgard once again. The orchestra began to play meditative tunes. We were all silent. I suspect that we were thinking about the journey we had just taken.

    Suddenly we were tied up to the docks from which we had first started our river journey. The travelers silently walked down the gangplank and onto the wooden dock, slowly make our way back up the steps and into the main hall at camp.

    We had all arrived home safely. It was good to be back.

    Now it was the time for us to proceed to the bonfire where we would send our gifts to our beloved ancestors, to relish the sight of a star filled crystal clear Halloween sky and to enjoy hot cups of blood cider.

    Blessed Be.