Today, I’m grieving.
Yesterday morning, I learned of the loss of a very good friend. I was in a café having breakfast while I waited on our car to be fixed… the most ordinary of situations, right?
My friend Cat texted me, to check had anyone been in touch, and then asked for a phone call. She told me of the loss of Jon Hanna.
A man I have known since we were both only young and coming into the Irish Pagan community, a comrade I have fought beside for the freedom and equality and understanding of all, a fellow Irish Pagan author, a Craft brother I have stood in circle with many times, a dear friend whose life rites and passages I have shared at every step.
The first time I met Jon, I was 18 years old. At some Pagan event in a pub, maybe a moot? Or an organisation gathering for something in the wider community? Anyway, he was in a group with a person I had no time for, who had quite vocally offended the majority of the Irish Pagan Community and continued to do so. This tall, skinny, ginger man with the Northern accent shouldn’t have been in any way interesting to me, given all that.
But he was.
Even back then I could see his wicked sharp intellect and dry sense of humour. I could feel a kinship, a kindred spirit. I wanted to be friends with him, regardless of anything else.
Luckily for me, my wish came true in good enough time. Jon was a member of pretty much every community I’ve ever considered myself a part of, and we became excellent friends through the long years between then and now.
My brother’s journey echoed my own, and mine his, in a great many ways.
We often spoke of past trauma and shared experiences, our personal mental health struggles as survivors, and the toxic culture that created the situations we both found ourselves in.
I don’t know why I still survive today, and he doesn’t, and that terrifies me.
But I will go on without him, as we all have to try to do, and hope that he has now found the peace he so needed. And deserved.
On Friday night we will Wake him at his house, and on Saturday his Wiccan Brothers and Sisters will give him his full due and send off, in a ceremony that will be incredibly difficult for us all.
Though Traditional Wicca is not a path I follow in my personal practice any more, those rites of initiation are ties that bind through lifetimes, and it is still my right and my duty to stand within that circle in times like this. For him.
Please, if you can, light a candle for our fallen brother, and for strength (and what peace may be had) to surround his family and his children, that they may draw on it if they choose or need to.
“Until we meet, know, remember and love again.”
If you’re struggling with PTSD, C-PTSD, or any other mental health issues – I’m not going to tell you to just “please talk to someone”, because I know exactly how difficult that can be. If you can – please do – but if you feel you can’t right now… Know at least that I’ve been there. I might be there again some day. But we can survive this, and keep surviving it. I believe in us.https://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/need-help-now/