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Honouring our Ancestors

It’s Samhain time again.

Yesterday, for many people was Halloween. At home, was my Dad’s birthday. But it was also time to honour my Ancestors – the ones that came before me: Ancestors of blood (whether I knew them or not), Ancestors of Spirit, Ancestors of Land and Ancestors most Ancient (John Beckett, “Who Are Our Ancestors?”).

In general, I tend to notice patterns (not that I have a mathematical mind, as I always sucked at Maths while at school). And some are really easy to notice, if you keep your mind open a little.

And this season (if you will) is not different for me.

In Portugal, some people are really against celebrating Halloween – a “Trick or Treating” tradition brought from abroad, unlike our very own “Bread for God” (“Pão por Deus”), celebrated on November 1st, where kids go door-to-door, asking “Bread for God”. Notice the pattern? Because I did. I am certain both stem from a Pagan common origin.

Also in Portugal, a culture that is a mix of Catholics and Atheists (with some other paths in between, such as Judaism, Islamism, Hinduism, and Western Paganism), I noticed another pattern (when we went today to visit the closer cemeteries where our loved ones are buried – the ones in Lisbon district, as we will be visiting the ones in Coimbra on the second half of November). Honouring our Ancestors – Atheists, Catholics, Pagans, we all honour our Loved Ones that have already crossed to the Otherworld.

This season I honoured, once more, my Ancestors. Yesterday, while at home, with my very own solitary ritual (not a very elaborate one – I light candles, burn incense and meditate on my Ancestors). Today at the cemeteries (placing fresh flowers at my family and friends’ graves) and at a Catholic church (with my Catholic family, lighting candles).

I do my best to keep in mind that “Honouring the Ancestors” should be a daily practice (and in my immediate family we try to visit our Ancestors graves on a weekly basis).

But it is comforting to think that this, too, was adopted into other paths and not left behind when Christianity took over the Iberian Peninsula.

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Candles for the Ancestors. Conceição da Abóboda church. Photo taken by yours truly

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