Pearls of Change

“…Change / Says the fields to the grass, / Seed-time and harvest, / Chaff and grain….” These words come from British poet, critic and scholar, Kathleen Jessie Raine (1908-2003). Her Scottish Mom, Jessie, wrote Kathleen’s poems for her when she was too young to hold a pencil! Raine’s love of poetry kept on giving through the seasons of her 95 years. She often captured the awe of nature, while also detailing how change is our constant companion, wanted or not.

Raine met the Prince of Wales (now King Charles III) and reportedly said, “…that poor young man – anything I can do for him, I will do, because he is very lonely.” A connection was made between poet and Prince as he later gave her much needed support through his patronage of her Temenos Academy of Integral Studies which she founded in 1990 as a “school of wisdom.” Just 2 years later Raine harvested more royal recognition as Queen Elizabeth II blessed her with a gold medal for her poetry. Did Queen Elizabeth II want to write poetry like Queen Elizabeth I?

There are harvest burdens and blessings.

Today begins a Celtic harvest holiday called Samhain (beginning at nightfall and lasting until sunset on November 1st). The ancient festival celebrated the ending of summer with a need to gather the harvest by Samhain to avoid having it damaged by mischievous spirits. The Celts handled their fears of ravished crops by believing Samhain was a liminal time when communication was possible with a spirit world. They dressed up in elaborate costumes with animal heads and skins to make-believe any spirits would perceive people as supernatural companions. Animal sacrifice was practiced in huge bonfires as token offerings to spirits.

Ancient customs change but persist. Candy tokens are offered to children who dress up as animals and more. Masked paraders prowl festive-decorated neighborhoods today. Romans prowled and conquered the Celts. In the 7th century Pope Boniface IV declared a Christian substitute for Samhain, changing the name to All Saints Day. A later name change, All Hallows Eve, morphed into today’s Halloween.

Consider reasons for hanging onto this hallow-day. I am grateful for my harvest of Roma tomatoes, but Jeremy Adam Smith, editor of an online magazine (The Greater Good, University of CA, Berkeley) offers these treats:

  • Rituals connect us to other people. Halloween visits may help us get to know some neighbors.
  • “We need candy.” Smith’s 9-year-old son was credited with this notion, although I agree with Smith on eating a bit of dark chocolate every day!
  • Pretending is helpful behavior. Research suggests that pretending helps children play through their fears.
  • Ultimately, the playfulness of Halloween helps to prepare us “…for things that are genuinely scary, like climate change.”

Aren’t we the mischievous ones when it comes to climate change?     

Much impermanence is in the air.               

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

129. How do you view seasonal changes from autumn to winter?

130. When do you use pretending to cope with your fears?                     

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.


  1. Love this, Jan! I am writing from San Miguel de Allende, where I am this week for the incredible Day of the Dead celebrations. Made me reflect on where these traditions developed.


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