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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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Ancestor

Your life is part of our history,
Your path led up to mine.
Your steps and thoughts have guided me.
Ancestor, we are entwined.
May I drink of your wisdom always.
May I find within myself
The courage with which you lived your life.
May I discover within the strength
You used to, your obstacles, overcome.
May my life never lessen yours,
May my thoughts always stem from thyne
And, together, reach further than before.
Ancestor, your life originated mine.
I come from you and, one day, you I’ll join.
I will honour you throughout my life,
And your life I’ll celebrate until the day I die.

 

My altar for my Ancestors
My altar for my Ancestors
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Carrying the Forest within

I am an animist, polytheist pagan on the Druidry path.

I need to be surrounded by trees to feel alive and energised.

Too bad I live in the outskirts of Lisbon and work in Lisbon city itself. It drains me out and sometimes it is very hard for me to have any energy at all.

The concrete and cement, all the buildings and cars and pollution, and even the huge amount of people around drain me so very much, unlike what happens in rural spaces.

Perhaps this is due to my need of closeness with Nature, or my need for personal space (please don’t get me started on public transportation during rush hour).

However, today something was different. I am still living in the outskirts of Lisbon, in a very urban area. But, today, I somehow felt the connection to the land and its spirits, I felt the connection to the few trees in the sidewalk. I felt like they were saying “I know how you feel”.

About a week after my experience with Danu, I started praying daily (usually twice a day) to my Ancestors (of blood and of spirit), to the Spirits of the Land, to the Deities I follow (Cernunnos, Danu and The Morrígan).

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This connection might be due to my recent daily practice. If it is, I hope it continues.

But what I am taking from all this?

I am learning to be mindful of the Land Spirits around, even in urban grounds. I am starting to feel the Spirits of the Land in a place I never had before (cities).

My spiritual practice is gaining a greater importance in my life and I am enjoying it very much. I am learning and improving through baby steps and I am ok with this. Good things take time and require resilience, practice and time.

OBOD has this wonderful exercise where you visualise yourself in a grove. Mine is always deep within a forest. It seems I am finally learning to carry the forest within me.

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