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