Suddenly, everything changed. In that moment, Nera realized he had left the Earth and entered a strange Other World — one that bordered the realm of the living.
To begin, it’s helpful to have some background on Samhain. In Celtic Ireland, around 2,000 years ago, Samhain represented the division between the lighter half of the year that was summer and the darker half that was winter. During the interim, ancient people believed that the line between the spirit world and the mortal one became so thin that the dead could pass through it and walk the earth once more.
If he anticipated finding a restful atmosphere when he got there, he was about to experience extreme disappointment. When he arrived, mutinous Spanish settlers were in a fury over the supposed bountiful riches of the New World. Many returned to Spain, where they complained about gross mismanagement, incompetence, and tyranny to the Spanish court.
“Nor did she deign to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth. . . . this woman’s vanity was hateful to Almighty God; and so, unmistakably, did He take his revenge. For He raised over her the sword of His divine justice, so that her whole body did putrefy and all her limbs began to wither.”
Boudica and Dany both represent ruthless female leaders who rebelled against those who wronged them without mercy. They took no prisoners. It’s estimated that Boudica’s armies killed as many as 70,000–80,000 people.
For John, life as a druggist was sweet. Business was booming, his son was growing like a weed, and he had a lovely home with 20 acres of corn, potato, sugarcane, and watermelon. He made a mint selling various proprietary products like “Dr. Sanford’s Great Invigorator,” “Eureka Oil,” and the occasional medicinal wine.
Part of it is that he has a giving heart and empathy that runs deep, but another facet is his hatred for the gentry. He’s consistently appalled by their utter disdain for the poor and their tendency to prize animals, machinery, and other luxuries above them.
Eventually, an angel came to him in a dream and urged him to return home. “You have fasted well,” it said, “very soon you will return to your native country.” Thankfully, this helpful spirit also let Saint Patrick in on the latest ship departures and he was soon in pursuit of one that would take him back home. He trekked over 200 miles of forests, bogs, and brambles until at last, he reached a port that may have been Wexford.
There was nary a corpse that was sent to the other side without valuables and provisions in the form of objects, food, and wine. The assemblage was meant to sustain them on their celestial journey.