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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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It’s Autumn: Samhuinn approaches

Yesterday, I went to Sintra. I noticed what my body and spirit have been telling me for a while, despite the Summer heat that we have been experiencing during the day: Autumn is here to stay.

The days are already shorter and the trees’ leaves have been dancing on their way to the ground, wearing beautiful tones of orange, gold and red.

At night, the temperatures have been dropping a lot and you can feel the humidity in the air promising rain soon.

But there is something else in the air that makes this time of the year different. Besides the thinning veil to the Otherworld, Autumn invites you to introspection, to focus on Nature’s visible changes that remind us so much of the advanced stages of the human life cycle, to remember and celebrate our Ancestors – those that came before us and that, despite that they have crossed over to the other side of the veil, they created the basis for our existence, for our path, including our spiritual one.

This season allows us to look back, to assess our path, to assess our choices, and it allows for new possibilities, new potential choices for the new cycle ahead.

This season, for its association with the changing cycles, to the change of states (from the Summer dryness to Autumn’s rains), the celebration of those that crossed over and often with reunion with them in so many different cultures, we could infer that this season celebrates the cycle of change and the cycle of life as a whole, looking at death as part of the life cycle and not as the end of it, a taboo that we should never address.

Autumn has the potential to allow us to face our fears. It is not by chance that the Samnhuinn’s masks (that were a protection against evil entities that came from the Otherworld to take the living with them) were adopted by Halloween. And it is not by chance that, between 1995 and 2015, most horror movies were released in October (see link).

However, besides facing our fears, we should all transform that courage into a motor for change, to change within us and in society what no longer serves us and what no longer serves (or never did) the others that we see as different.

Autumn is a season of changes, the best time to face our fears. So let us change, let us face our fears, but let us do it in a positive manner for all.

Otherwise, we won’t be facing our own fears, but losing our sovereignty to those fears. Otherwise, we will not be promoting true change, but only a deterioration of the situation, comparatively to what it was in the beginning of the cycle that is ending.

Face the fear to question yourselves, your statuses and beliefs. Face the fear of leaving your comfort zone, and start seeing the world through the eyes of the other person, under the light of their life experiences. Face the fear of feeling empathy for all living beings, no matter how different they are from you.

Change, and the world will change with you.

 

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Photo taken in Pena Palace (Sintra, Portugal) by yours truly.
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Beltane

The wheel has turned and Spring has come
Joy hovers in the air.
There’s life! There’s party!
Cheers to revelry!
Lets celebrate as a community!

Spring is here,
Now the days are growing bigger.
The Sun, Star King, is warming up.
At night there’s bonfires,
Tables filled with food,
It’s time to eat, drink and feast.

The Bard blesses us with poetry
And enchanting timeless songs.
Around the bonfire we dance,
Together, with drinks, we toast
To celebrate Beltane.

While the Bard plays their songs,
My soul dances to the sound of their enchantment,
My feet move to the sound of their harp,
That is when  rediscover myself:
I am the Bard, I am poetry
I am Awen, perfect melody
I am the source, transformation and rebirth.

 

Beltane
Beltane. Image Source
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Imbolc

If you have ever read one of my posts, you will notice I am very aware of the wheel of the year. I am aware tiny details that most people (perhaps with the exception of those in a Pagan path or those working with agriculture) fail to notice.

It is remarkable how much the wheel of the year has changed since I was a kid going to grammar school during the 80’s (yes, I am that old!). The seasons no longer match the dates I was taught back then.

Imbolc is no expection. Although I still celebrate the Earth starting to stirr after a long Winter sleep, the truth is that I first started noticing it back in the middle of December.

The Oxalis pes-caprae (which, in Portugal, we call Azedas) started flourishing around December 20th in my backyard.

Meet our
Meet our “Azedas”. Photo taken by yours truly 😉

Also, the birds started humming their melodies near my place.

At that time, the weather was not as cold as it usually is during Winter (although it is somewhat colder now).

For those who might not know, I live in Cascais municipality, in sunny Portugal.

A little warning: I am not a conventional person when it comes to spirituality. I study several sources, I follow what makes sense to me, and I tend to discard what does not. My path is a melting pot of my experiences and that which makes sense to me spiritually.

I don’t celebrate the wheel of the year in the same way most Pagans (and Druids) I know do. And I know a few, online and offline.

Take, for example, Imbolc. I am absolutely useless when it comes to creating Brighid’s crosses. When it comes to arts, I can manage with singing, writing, drawing, taking photographs (not to humans, though; I suck at that for the most part). And, even so, practice is always needed.

I am a solitary. Public transportation sucks where I live. If I want to go to Sintra, I need to go to Lisbon so I can go to Sintra, besides the fact that it is rather expensive (I would have to take a bus, a train, at least one subway, and yet another train, and the need for another bus might arise).

I love to walk in Nature. I am very partial to forests.

I am still getting used to the idea of rituals (far too many years in the Catholic church kind of provoked a certain aversion to very structured, rigid rituals).

Thus, most times, my rituals consist of a mindful walk in Nature (did I mention I love trees?) is my go-to ritual for these special occasions.

This year, I am planning on going for a mindful walk, with honey, dandelion seeds and water, to celebrate the return of the light, the awakening of life and the return of Spring’s warmth to Earth. Opening the circle, invite Brighid, say my wishes (for my family and I) for 2018, do my offerings, and close the circle. Simple and effective.

For me, if Alban Arthan is a time for introspection and communion, Imbolc is a time for hope and preparation.

Did I mention I love trees?
Did I mention I love trees? Photo by moi.

Hope for a better world. Hope of becoming a better person, a person that can stand up not only for others but also for myself. Hope of deepening my spirituality and of opening myself up for new spiritual experiences.

Hope for more positive times for my family (which includes my blood family, my closest friends and my spiritual family) and for myself in the year ahead.

And time to prepare the future ahead, to create the path that will lead us to the realization of our goals.

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Samhain

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Samhain, o tempo sem tempo
O véu entre os mundos, como nevoeiro, se desvanece
Chegam Ancestrais, Deuses e Espíritos da Natureza
Caminham entre nós desde a hora em que anoitece.

Celebram connosco a viragem do ano
É tempo de nos despedirmos das últimas colheitas
Honramos Deuses e Aqueles que nos antecederam
Aspirando a um futuro de vidas perfeitas.

Renovamos os nossos compromissos espirituais
Consolidamos relações com os mundos
Traçamos os nossos passos por caminhos não habituais
Nossas crenças e conhecimentos cada dia mais profundos.

A roda do ano retornou ao Samhain
Aos nossos olhos abrem-se outras realidades
O nevoeiro dissipou-se, vislumbra-se o caminho, por fim
No limiar dos mundos, encontramos as nossas verdades.

 

Published in Ophiusa nr 4

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Source

 

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Alban Elfed

Alban Elfed. A time of balance and harvest.
The hours of daylight become once more equal to the hours of the night, right before the days grow shorter.
The culmination of the year’s endeavours, for those that work the land.

And also my birthday.  Harvest 2017_1

This is a time I use to ponder upon my life, to assess my accomplishments, my fulfilments, before starting a new year (until my following birthday).
I look at how far I’ve come, analyse what I’ve done, what I could have done differently. I pretty much look at what I have sown and I count my blessings.

So far, what I have learnt:

1. I am loved.
I have a loving family.
My parents, siblings and siblings-in-law. My husband and my in-laws. My uncles, aunts and cousins. I have a large family that loves me.
I have friends and coworkers that care for me.

2. I have a job I love.
I am fortunate to have a job I love. When I feel like staying at home, it is because I feel under the weather, not because I dislike my job.

3. I am part of a wonderful Community.
Although I mostly keep to myself (in general and as a Pagan), I am lucky to be part of a community, both Portuguese and International), that fights for what is right.

4. I am part of something bigger.
I am still learning the best way to hear and understand the Gods and Goddesses, the Ancestors, Fae and other Unseen Beings.
I know there is a Path I must follow that I am only now beginning to see. Lets see where it’ll take me.

Harvest 2017_3

 

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year to my Sisters and Brothers of the Wyrd,
May this turn of the wheel be filled with enlightenment, wisdom and Awen,
With much success in all quarters of your lives.
May you find love, happiness, and balance in dark and light,
And may you always find your strength and might.

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Winter Solstice/Yule and Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

I see this as a season for letting go of the past, and to looking forward to a new cycle.

A season for introspection, for releasing the old, and embracing the new. If this was a tarot card, it’d be the death card. 😉

A season to be spend with my loved ones, the ones that have been on my side through thick and thin, and love me unconditionally.

I have already said my goodbyes to past cycles I needed to close, I learnt from the experiences I lived, and I am looking forward to new experiences (I would prefer them to be pleasant ones, please).

I spent time with my Family, helped Mom with the preparation of our traditional foods.

I spent time with my Deities and offered them good wine.

Yes, I am a Pagan on the Druidry Path and I celebrate the Winter Solstice (Alban Arthan), the return of the light, the balance between light and dark.

But my Family is Catholic and I see no inconvenience in celebrating this Family season with my own Family.

Before I return to my Family, my Goddesses (yes, almost forgot to tell you! Besides the Great Queen, Epona also chose to be part of my life, and I am delighted to get to know her better) and Gods, I wish you peaceful times. May you always find balance in dark and light. And may this season be an enlightened one.

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Detail from my Yule Tree
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Mabon Blessings! Happy Autumnal Equinox!

And so, today, with the turning of the wheel of the year, another season begins, another cycle commences.

I love all the seasons, each season has its special thing about it.

I love Autumn for its colours, its scents, and what I associate it with.

Soon the first rains will fall from the sky (and the emanating petrichor), as will the orange, red, brown and gold tree leaves falling to the ground.

And I cannot think of nothing better than getting home, changing to comfy clothes, preparing some hot tea, grabbing a book or a good movie, a blanket, and going for a lovely “couching” session, while listening to the rain outside. Soooo relaxing!

As you know, the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn is associated with harvesting, of ripping what you’ve sown. Something usually done as a community (or, at least, with the help of family and friends) – at least in Góis (Portugal) it is a bit like that.

How can you celebrate such an event?
Think of growth, maturity, change, and how magical that is. Think of apples, pears, corn, grapes, and so on.
You may want to celebrate (by yourself or even over dinner, even if you’re the only one in the know) by adding cornbread, apple pie, pear cake, wine or grape juice… You get the point.

Whatever you choose to do, have fun while doing it. Otherwise, you won’t be celebrating at all.

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Image taken from here.