A Journey to the Roadhouse of the Dead

Donald L. Engstrom-Reese

November 6, 2011




Mark and I were traveling separately to the Roadhouse this year. We kissed each other, wished each other bon voyage and prepared ourselves for our journeys.


It was a cool windy evening. I could hear the winds howling while I sat sipping my cup of green jasmine tea. It was going to be a hard flight to the Roadhouse of the Dead. The headwinds were going to be cold and strong. I would have to prepare wisely to stay warm for this trip.


I dressed myself in the midnight colors I love: indigo, black, jet, and burgundy. This time the indigo hooded cloak was heavily embroidered with red, gold and turquoise sigils.  All in all, my outfit was a variation of the traveling togs I wore the first time I flew to the Roadhouse with Hera, the Queer God and Eponia. I also slipped on my wedding ring, an amber, jet and pearl necklace and of course, my new dark gray suede traveling boots (still the most comfortable foot wear I have ever had the pleasure to have upon my feet). At the last moment I decided to pin the new antique ivory bee brooch that Larry gave me to the left shoulder of my cloak.


This would be my 20th annual Samhain visit to the Roadhouse of the Dead. It felt like I should bring something special to the Roadhouse as a thank you gift. Sitting on the our kitchen table two presents sat wrapped and ready to go: a literally shinning bottle of sparkling liquid sunshine and a golden box of watermelon seeds (Moon and Stars?). They were obviously my gifts for the Dead. I packed them in my traveling bag, grabbed my broom and went out the back door.


I found Spark (my old winged horse friend) waiting for me in the backyard. His indigo coat shown like liquid light in the setting sun. He is so beautiful. Spark was wearing a type of soft blanket-like purple and gold padded saddle with stirrups. It had comfortable woven straps fixed around his middle. He wore no hackamore or bit bridle. Spark was bare headed except for a single large orange sapphire in the middle of his forehead.


“Hello Donald, I have come to fly you to the gathering. Tie your broom to the back of the saddle and strap your own bag tightly to you. You will need your broom to fly yourself back home.


I thanked Spark as I hugged his neck. It had been so long sense I had last seen him and I suddenly realized how much I had missed him. I mounted and made myself as ready as I could. I always find it a bit tricky to ride a flying horse with no reins to hold on to.


“Hold on tight, Honey. I am afraid it is going to be a rough and wild flight tonight.” Spark called to me as he leapt into the air.


It was. The cold winds howled. We flew through frozen clouds and light Autumnal rains into the darkening sky above the weather. The winds still buffeted us about. I heard Brother North Wind singing songs of the coming Winter Time. He sang sad songs about dwindling Snow Dreams. He and his windy companions also sang about the awakening of a long sleeping heart/s of a (stone, mountain, mineral?) giant/s in the midst of the Snow Time which would shake us all awake. It made me feel/suspect that perhaps a new understanding of how essential the Cold Times are for all of Nature’s Children would emerge this Winter. (And of course, maybe a Wintertime Earth quake?) After a time, we sank back under the cloud cover into the rain and wind blessing the landscape.


As we flew above the winding valley, I saw the Earth Conclave Astral House on the banks of the Spirit Mississippi River. It looked as if everyone had gone down river to the Roadhouse to the celebrations. I knew that we were now getting close to our destination.


Soon I saw the Roadhouse shinning in the distance in the deep jewel tones that could only mean that the Samhain bonfires dotting the grounds had been lit. I could see the bonfire flames reflected off of the low cloud cover.  I also noticed the silvery waxing moon peaking through the clouds. The strong winds were still singing their songs. I could other voices joining the winds. I suddenly noticed that it was much colder than usual. It was time to get warm. When I could clearly see the golden lights shining out from the Roadhouse windows my heart filled with a longing to see my beloved dead once again.


Spark landed in a parking lot next to the docks. Again this year, the docks and the lots were filled with all types of vehicles from a wide range of times and places: autos, buses, dirigibles, submarines, ships, planes, helicopters, canoes, sleds, etc. I got off of Spark’s back, untied my broom and thanked him for the ride.


‘I will see you later, Donald. I don’t think it will be tonight, but maybe? I am going off to work with the folks dancing the aerial paths of the Dance That Weaves the Fabric of the Multiverse.”


Spark then leapt into the air and joined a huge circle of dancers weaving in and out to the the music of the roaring winds. Their dancing formed multicolored glowing patterns/sigils that spun away into the air to wherever they needed to be. The circle was contained of all types of beings, ancestral and Mysterious Ones. There were dragons, eagles, ravens, swans, pterosaurs, horses, moths, honey bees, wolves, cattle, dolphins, cheetahs, primates and beings composed of raw energy that looked like spiraling galaxies. There were more folks than I could recognize. The huge circle must of held thousands of folks, all singing and dancing, doing the magic of the evening’s work.


I wondered, ‘How did we get through that circle without me even noticing the dancers?’


After hanging my broom in the Broom Shed, I made my way along the sidewalk to the Roadhouse. Pyramids of purple, orange, yellow, white and green pumpkins intricately carved into skulls lined the path from the parking lots and docks to the Roadhouse. The winds made the candles inside the pumpkins flicker in a particularly erie way. The sight made me giggle and shiver. It was a delightful little walk.


I noticed that the veranda was empty. Had the dance already begun? The bar was still packed though. Was there still time before the Dance started? It soon became apparent that the dances had already started. The Folks in the bar were moving back and forth between the main dance hall, the bonfires the kitchens and meeting rooms.


I saw Ing, Singing Bear and Horus tending bar. I thought I would go up for a drink and to say hi to them. They were looking particularly hot in their silver tuxedos. But they were way too busy to say much more than ‘Hi! Good to see you, Donald.’


I felt someone bump my elbow. I turned to find the handsome Ganesha in his bright red robs and golden shoes sweetly smiling at me.


‘Let’s you and me wander around tonight. What do ya say, Sweet Thing?’ and he put his arm around my shoulders and his trunk around my waist.


‘Who wouldn't want to hang out with one of the most handsome boys at the Party?’ I replied, laughing and giggling. (Yes, I was actually delightfully embarrassed that Ganesha wanted to hangout with me and I giggled!)


Ganesha led me into one of the side halls off of the bar. In this grand room we found a flower show in honor of Flora. It was a life time achievement award flower show and dessert dedicated to our Mistress of the Blossoms. The show was packed with her devoted feres, friends and beloveds. Among the crowd I saw such folk as Gertrude Jekyll, Gregor Mendel, Vita Sackville-West, Luther Burbank, Thalassa Cruso, Claude Monet and my Uncle Conrad. What a wonderful turnout for such a lovely Gidden!


The flower arraignments were spectacular. There were towering creations at least twelve feet high made of orchids, clouds, ferns and lighting bolts. There were huge mounded bouquets composed of massive blooming fruit branches, hanging mosses and silver mists. There were gigantic crystal bowls ten feet across filled with lotus and water lilies. The most amazing koi swam through their shinning roots. One of my particular favorites was a colossal cast iron cauldron filled with black blossoms that icily steamed from their deep frozen depths. These blossoms included roses, grasses, mums, orchids, euphorbias, sunflowers, glads, and many other unknown flowers, all of them as black as the depths of outer space.


Julia Childs threw open the double doors and called out gaily, ‘Bon appétit’. Julia lead a procession of desserts into the Flower Hall. First in line was a immense cake that she had baked especially for Flora. It was a tiered cake built of layers of chocolate, vanilla and orange sponge cakes dribbled with a rose water glaze and then decorated with sugared violets and rose petals. The cake was carried on a litter by four huge green beings with bulging biceps and flowering hair and pansy faces. It was certainly quite the parade!


The procession circled Flora who was standing in the middle of the room while a sextet of three harps and three flutes played a new composition in honor of the occasion. Flora was then presented a necklace of golden roses crafted by Alfrigg, Dvalin, Berling and Grerr themselves. A great cheer went up as Grerr fastened the necklace around Flor’s strong graceful neck. The room filled with cheers. And the toasts to Queen Flora began:


‘All Hail our Queen of the Green!’

‘All Hail to this Living Mother

      of Branch and Blossom,

      Root and Twig,

Leaf and Seed!’

‘May the beauty of this Ever-Blooming Blossom never fade!’

‘May Flora ever grace the sweet lands of the Good Green Earth!’

‘All Hail the Green Dream!’

       ‘All Hail a Beloved Child of Viriditas!’


The champaign flowed freely. The cake seemed to be never ending. It was a lovely celebration.


I saw my Great-Grandmother Lena and some of her friends (all devoted gardeners) sitting at a large round table across the room drinking their champaign and eating their cake, laughing, pointing out folks in the crowd and waving. Grandma Lena looked at me straight in the eye and motioned me to come join her. I left Ganesha chatting with a group of orchids and calla lilies and walked over to Grandma Lena’s table.


“Sit down, Donnie. I want a few words with you.”


The rest of the table went quiet and turned to stare at me.


“You need to really pay attention to what you are eating. Now, you know that you are not allowed to die until your work is at a place that the others will be able to pick it up and continue on. You know this. Rick has told you this. Freya has told you this. Hera has told you this. Your father has told you this. Now I am telling you this. Watch what you eat! Pay attention! Stay healthy. You do have a bit more work to do before it is your turn to die.”


Grandma Lena smiled sweetly to me and asked, “How were your tomatoes this year?”


“Well,” I answered, “it was a bad tomato year.”


The rest of the table suddenly broken into spirited discussion on tomatoes and how hard it was getting for the living to know what to do during this time of climate change. Each ancestor around the table was worrying out loud about their decedents and their beloved green bloods.


Meanwhile, I was still kind of stunned and was thinking, “What have I been eating? Do I need to pay a bit more attention? I guess so.”


I sat for awhile listing to my Great-Grandmother Lena and her friends talk about gardening and the coming climate trials. They were wondering what advice they could send to the living that the living could actually hear? The talk was soon way beyond my experience and/or ability to follow.


As I sat simply enjoying the presence of my Grandma Lena, I noticed Dawn Isadora sitting across the room with a group of ancestors animatedly talking about something. I also saw Susan Farley and some others (living folk?) in a lively discussion with Welsh garden Mysterious Ones.


I felt it was time to move on. I kissed my Great-Grandmother good-bye and joined Ganesha.


We walked arm in arm back into the main bar to mingle. I greeted the Winter Queen all dressed in white and the palest blue sapphires escorted by a Spirit Polar Bear, a great hero of the Arctic Peoples. What a handsome couple! As we continued to walked to the bar to freshen our drinks, I overheard Mark talking to a group of folks dressed in dark evening wear standing casually by one of the large windows overlooking the gardens. I believe one of them was Anubis. (They were talking in quite low serious voices about the processes of Death and Healing Change?)


Suddenly out of the crowd the Four Girlfriends (Hera, Quan Yin, Freya and Bridget) dressed in their Samhain finery, sprang laughing to swoop me up and away from Ganesha.


Bridget called back to Ganesha, “We will give him back to you when we are done with him.”


“We have someone we want you to meet, Donald. She is one of our dearest friends. We will all be working together for the foreseeable future.” Hear laughed.


Quan Yin introduced us. 


“Oshun, this Donald, one of our dearest living friends. He bakes wonderful pies!”


“Donald, this is our sweet Oshun. She is one our inner circle. You will be seeing a lot of her from now on.”


Oshun was dressed all in white; a long flowing brocade gown, white shoes, white gloves, diamonds, pearls, silver. Garnets and golden sapphires added a bit of color to her overall look. She was stunningly beautiful.


Oshun smiled a welcoming smile and took my hand in hers saying, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Donald. I am sure that we will become the best of friends.”


Grandmother Bear joined us as we made ourselves comfortable around a table in one of the alcoves lining the back wall of the bar. Grandmother Bear joined us at the table bringing us a tray of fresh pistachio baklava, a large ewer of a shinning honey colored liquor and seven tiny ruby red glasses. We each took a glass of liquor and a square of baklava and began to laugh. It was so good to see everyone, old friends and new.


“We are here to checkin with you about ‘things’,” growled Grandmother Bear. “The Occupy Folks are right on time. The probabilities of successful healthy change are getting stronger and stronger. Mind you, it will be a really rough time this Winter. But when the Spring Thaw comes, Watch Out!”


“Do not forget to keep you pantries filled with a six month supplies of dry goods,” Hera said.


“Do not depend on refrigeration,” Bridget chimed in.


Freya said, “Here is a short to-do list to share. We understand that your living folks appreciate such things. Let’s call it:


A To-Do List to Nurture the Continued

Emergence of the Cultures of Beauty, Balance and Delight.”


Then all of the six Giddens more or less chanted in unison:


Bake pies, create magical food.

Feed the people, human and otherwise.

Choose to shamelessly live in joy and beauty.

Dance circle dances in order to weave the Spirit Maps of Rich and Luscious Change into the Fabric of the Multiverse.

Sing out loud wherever you are called to do so.

Keep your Folks warm and well fed throughout the cold.

Be ready for the Spring Thaw.

Make sensible, step by step plans on how to bring your hopes and dreams of  sustainable cultures into manifestation.

Don’t forget! Keep six months of dry goods on hand. Do not depend on refrigeration or freezing.

Make ‘Toasts’. There is a power waiting to feed and transform us all in the well crafted toast.


‘To the magnificence of the heart that chooses to be healed!’

‘To the lush and generous garden!’

‘To a life well lived!’

‘To the beloved Hearth-Hold!’


Remember the toasts that were given to you this October.


‘To the Thriving Life of Pleasure and Joyful Obligation!’

‘To a Rich and Abundant Hearth!’

‘To a Life Lived in Honor and Trustworthiness!’

‘To Clear Eyes and Open Hearts!’

‘To the Ways of Enduring Beauty!’

‘To the Powers of Risk and the Blessings of Chance!’

‘To the Living Waters of the Mississippi River!’

‘To Wise Choices, Brilliant Decisions and Heartfelt Actions!’

‘To the Dances of Life, Death and Rebirth!’

‘To Shameless Love and Desire!’


Remember Inanna’s Feasts in honor of the Me’.


‘I take it!’


Remember the blessings of Red Dragon’s dinner.


‘All Hail the Red Living Blood!’


Remember the powers of the toast!


All six of the ‘Girl Friends’ raised their little red glasses and loudly declared:


‘May we all dare to dwell in Beauty, Balance and Delight!’


“OK, that’s the list!” Oshun declared and refilled the six empty glasses. All seven of us then raised our glasses, declared, “To Life!” and drank our shinning honey liquor. We all began to laugh and laugh as we were filled with joy, delight, confidence and power.


Kwan Yin leaned over to me and whispered into my ear, “By the way, Njord and I are doing very well. We are looking at a lovely place in the Pacific.” She smiled a far away smile. “We will have you out for dinner sometime soon.”


Ganesha came over to the table to take me on a walking tour of the grounds to visit the Samhain Bonfire Magics.


“Have a wonderful time!” the table of Giddens called to us as we went out the French doors onto the terrace,


As soon as I stepped outside, I was drawn to a distance group of whales and other megafauna doing a working around a towering fire. The flames were a multitude of colors: blue, white, orange, purple, turquoise, red, green, gold. The fires leap up as if to light the whole night sky. From amongst these flames, beautiful fiery images (sigils?)shot into the air, through the clouds and (it appeared) straight to the heart of the multiverse. I soon recognized that the images were forming Spirit Maps. I was drawn even more deeply into the magic of this Circle.


As we got closer to the bonfire, Whale song began to fill the air supported by a chorus of dragons. Gigantic primates of many different species beat out an hypnotic rhythm which took us physically, shaking and shimming, into the dancing circle. Soon, we were both adding our voices to what I suddenly realized was a primal yoik. It was a wordless yoik, a yoik of celebratory power, a yoik of gratitude for healing and restoration, a yoik of determination and purposefulness. I suspect that I can still recall parts of this working today. I will never forget yoiking on Samhain night with the Whales, Dragons, Giant Polar Bears, Short Faced Bears, Giant Sloths, Saber Toothed Tigers, Giant Dragonflies, Primates, Dire Wolves, Giant Bees, Dromornis, Mammoths and Mastodons.


It seemed as if I had spent many hours dancing and yoiking at the Great Ones’ Fires when I felt a tug on my coat sleeve. It was Ganesha indicating to me that it was time for me to go back to the Roadhouse Bar.


Part way back to the Roadhouse I said good-bye to Ganesha, who was going on to another bonfire. As I went up the veranda steps, I decided to see if I could get into the big working, the Great Dance. But I was too late. The Dance That Renews the Balance Between Death, Life and Rebirth, The Dance That Weaves the Fabric of the Multiverse had already moved into the parts that the Living are not allowed to witness. I was strangely not that disappointed. Spark, who was standing guard at the big doors, whinnied softly as he rubbed his velvet nose on my neck, “Next year, cowgirl. Leave your gifts here on the table. We will be needing them for the next bit of magic.”


I placed my bottle of sunshine and box of watermelon seed on one of two matching marble tables standing on either side of the double doors already crowded with gifts. I then made my way back to the bar to just sit and hold the memories of my experiences at this year’s Roadhouse.


I sat alone and enjoyed watching all of the folks around me. It is always so delightful to just watch the incredible variety of beings intermingle at the Roadhouse on the holidays. It is always amazing to see the dolphins swim through the air next to the flock of meadow larks and the kangaroos sharing a table and drinks with the horses and badgers. It is amazing to see Mysterious Ones,  bears, egrets, eagles, primates and octopi interweave with the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. It is so amazing and so filled with joy. And to top it off, there was a great jazz band playing that night.


I also spent a long time listening to the ongoing discussions about the coming changes and the choices that those changes will necessitate, which would then demand that yet more changes would nyd to be made. Folks hoped that the Living would remember the Mystery of the Knowing of the Never Ending Cycles of Beingness. Though of course, no one knows who will make conscious choices, stepping into their roles as shapers-with/co-creators of the multiverse. No one seemed to know for that matter, what the exact choices will actually be when the time comes, let along what choices will be made. Nevertheless, everyone agreed that The Cauldron of Change is simmering and will probably not come to a boil until Spring Thaw. The group seemed to hold a solid hope and confidence that the probabilities were high and getting higher for a successful move into the Cultures of Beauty, Balance and Delight.


I could feel that it was time to go back home. I quietly made my way out of the front doors of the Roadhouse to get my broom out of the Broom Shed. I took off into a cold cloudy night satisfied with my visit. I was content and ready to be in my own house with my own husband.


On my flight home, I saw Grandmother Bear standing in the side yard of the Astral Clan House waving to me and pointing to a particular cave mouth. It came to me that it was a portal that led directly to the Roadhouse of the Dead, the Effigy Bear Mounds and perhaps to other sites in and out of Midgard. I will check it out next time I go to the Earth Conclave Astral House. That cave/portal could be very interesting indeed.


When I got home, I found that Mark was already back. We made ourselves a delicious dinner to celebrate the wonders of Samhain. We started our meal by raising our glasses to toast our good health and our amazing lives.


“To the Thriving Life of Pleasure and Joyful Obligation!


  To Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!


   Blessed Be!”