remembering our ancestors - a halloween ed.
Your Sunday Ritual:
Remembering Your Ancestors for Halloween/Samhain Ed.
Today we will be focusing on those who have come before us, and taking time to honour them as a special Halloween/Samhain (Wiccan New Year) edition.
Every end is a new beginning. What better time and way to honor this than by reflecting on those that came before us?
Many traditions around the world have different ways of celebrating and honouring the dead, Lots of them are in the coming weeks. From Halloween (Oct 31s), All Souls Day (Nov 1st), Samhain (Wiccan New Year, traditionally celtic Oct 31); Dia de los Muertos (Mexican “Day of the Dead” on Nov 2nd); Pchum Ben (Cambodian celebration mid-sept and mid-Oct). You can read the 10 cultures that celebrate dead here.
Do you think of honouring those who have passed on halloween or think of candy, costumes and planning whether to avoid or partake in halloween festivities?
Although our understanding of the halloween ‘holiday’ may be very different, it is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on those who have passed, and remind ourselves of of our connection to our roots. By honouring our pasted and those who came before us, we also set ourselves up for renewal. We tend to forget our pasts as we charge forward, but, as Wiccan’s Samhain tradition believes, death and rebirth are intertwined. By honoring the dead, we give room for renewal and rebirth of new ideas, projects and growth.
Did you (over the weekend) or will you (on Wednesday) be celebrating the dress up and ‘be someone else’ day of Halloween? I personally love halloween, a chance to get diy creative with a unique costume, although sometimes unsuccessful (I’m recalling last Halloween having a friend trying to pin tulle and shiny fabric to my rear so I could be a hap-hazard last minute gold fish). And this halloween, I was ‘the universe’ by diy bedazzled a full body suit and questionable face-paint that made me look more like shrek than the instagram makeup artists of the night sky. And, now my place looks like the universe exploded!
As you can guess, I love halloween for the creative dress up day and usually don’t think about the background.
For a brief bit of background, halloween comes from “All Hallows Eve.” It is the night before Western Christianity’s holy day (Nov 1st) to celebrate the martyrs (or hallows!?, don’t know why they are called hallows); followed by ‘All Souls Day” which is Nov 2nd, celebrating every soul that has passed.
October 31st, is also the Wiccan New year, known as Samhain. In Wiccan tradition, they believe life and death is strongly intertwined and take the opportunity to remember and commune with those who have come before us and express our gratitude.
It is a time, as Starhawk (a pagan activist aka witch) says;
Beyond just ‘remembering’ the dead; Wiccan, Halloween and other traditions believe that this time is when the ‘veil’ of those alive and dead is thinner, making it easier to communicate with those who have passed. Likely where fear of black magic and spooky ghosts grew from.
Much of my childhood I grew up off and on in Mexico where they celebrated loved Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which was celebrated more than Halloween. As a kid, I was slightly disappointed that no one was handing me candy or dressing up; and, instead leaving food for out for dead people. I learned to appreciate how the Mexican culture celebrated those who had passed, keeping them in their memories. A wonderful movie that did a great job depicting this tradition is COCO!
What is so cool about Day of the Dead, traditionally Aztec, it is a FUN celebration.
“Convinced that mourning or signs of sadness would offend the departed, El Dia de los Muertos is actually a celebration of the life of those who died. The day includes much food and drink, as well as partaking in activities that the dead enjoyed in life.” (link).
How interesting is it that so many cultures try to connect with the past, the dead or at least remember them?
Now, let's talk about today ritual. Don’t worry, no ouija; voodoo; summoning to the dead (unless that's your thing). Our focus for today's ritual is remembering and honoring our ancestors before us. Not just those we knew and remember, but also those we have met in our lifetime, like your grandmas grandmas grandma, and your whole lineage.
I went to my first ever goddess group let by my friend Catie years ago where we were walked through a meditation honouring our ancestors. We took the time to honour and meditate on all the woman who came before us. We imagined a line of your mom, and mom’s mom, and mom’s mom’s mom lined up, thanking each one for everything they have done to allow us to be who we are today.
How many women came before you, to allow you to be who you are today, right now?
***Note***: I understand there is controversy over this day/celebration, as some areas have banned halloween due to their religion and some Wiccan or Christian practices would conflict with religious beliefs. For this reason, these ritual we can simply take the opportunity to recognize multiple cultures and traditions have some way of remembering the dead and to take the time to do so, in your own way that is right for you. The wiccan traditions are general guidelines and beliefs unlike a religion, but if there is any discomfort of these, chose something that makes sense for you. Always honours your beliefs, your traditions, your culture and your religion! The sunday rituals may have some spiritual element but not religious and to be practiced regardless of your religion. I hope, like I do, see the background as ‘inspiration’ than stating one belief or way is better.
For this reason, I have listed a few rituals for you to chose from that you feel comfortable with!
YOUR SUNDAY RITUAL:
REMEMBERING YOUR ANCESTORS
Netflix and Chill. Have a cozy night in tonight and watch Coco on netflix.
GET NOSTALGIC: Pull out old memories that you have and get nostalgic. Enjoy remembering. I have a box of love letters from my grandparents that I will be pulling out (along with a box of tissues as I never read a full letter without crying to my extremely romantic grandfather gushing with perfect penmanship to my grandma).
WRITE A LETTER to someone who has passed with what you admire, miss and are grateful for. Keep it, or can burn it to let the ashes go to the person who has passed.
GIFT THE DEAD: Some ‘gifting’ to the beyond. This maybe familiar for you depending on your culture, or very foreign to you. A lot of traditions leave out food and gifts for the passed. You can leave a portion of your meal outside for a loved one, or something else. This is focusing on the thin line between the living and dead, that the material world can be accepted by these passed during this time.
DO WHAT THEY LOVED. Do something someone who has passed liked to do to honour them.
VISUALIZE YOUR ANCESTORS. I will be sharing a guided meditation on ancestors shortly. Stay tuned on instagram for it!
Celebrate with others!
COOK A FAMILY DISH: Cook a family favourite/favorite dish this week. If you don’t know one, call some family members and ask. Or, think back to your heritage and google some traditional meals from that area that you can learn to cook. For example, I am half swedish and my father's side of the family is from Lapland. My swedish family grandma always says the tough ‘viking’ in me. What's a traditional viking meal I’ve never made?
CELEBRATE WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS: over dinner (family tradition) and share stories of lost loved ones
ASK ABOUT YOUR ANCESTORS: Ask family members of what they remember of the ancestors you haven’t met. What was your great great grandma like?
CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES: to someone who knows the same person who past to remember something wonderful, funny, endearing about those who have past.
YOUR MANTRA THIS WEEK:
I am here because of those before me.
share with us your ritual! If you share any of your sunday rituals from any weeks, use hashtag #mysundayritual and tag us (her_collectives). We would love to see how you incorporate it and may share/get prizes ;).
WANT TO CONTRIBUTE?
Her Collectives is all about supporting and inspiring other women's personal or professional path for growth. For this reason, we love to collaborate and feature other like minded women and organizations that can also inspire others.
For this reason, we will be having more 'featured' Sunday Rituals coming up (hint, next week we have a great one for you). If you feel like you have something of value to contribute to the her collectives community, please send me an email with your background and thoughts!