The story tellers of today are warning us about how important it is to bring back the stories from our ancestors and learn from what they had to say to us.
As our interest as a species grows in becoming more aware, enlightened, enchanted or in touch with nature we learn immensely from those cultures that despite mistreatment have managed to keep that connection to the Earth, their ancestors and the oral tradition alive for centuries.
Amazing stories from Tibetan monks, or Indian gurus, Australian aboriginals, the gorgeous stories from American Indians, the few remaining tribes in the Amazons or in remote African villages. Those stories all bring knowledge and respite from our daily grind. They ground us and help us fly.
However, those of us with European ancestry can also look closer to home to connect with our own roots and our sense of belonging and listen to what our ancestors had to teach us. We can get back to the stories that come from Europe, try to search for different versions how far back can we go to find the original version? Sharon Blackie has amazing ideas and resources for stories from the UK and Ireland.
And never has this been more relevant as now that we approach Halloween. When the kids were little I just started going out trick or treating, not because it was a custom I had grown up with not in Spain nor in the UK when I was a teenager. But by the time the children were born SW London was full of sweets at every door, amazing decorations and groups of keen trick or treaters running around the streets fuelled by sugar after dark and we weren’t going to miss out.
It is such a fun evening. By Halloween night you can really feel the days are shorter, children are bubbling inside at the excitement of walking the streets at night, adults are always amazed at the effort the community has made in decorating and getting sweats and treats together, we all pitch in to make the evening magical, because we all know magic is important.
Every one is happy, everyone is sharing. We live next to each other all year round and may not even say “hi” as we walk past each other, but on this night we open our doors to our neighbours and share, we laugh together, we thank each other. Adults and children take what is scary and gruesome and turn it into laughter and warmth.
This year because of Covid we are not sure what Halloween will become and we are feeling disappointed that we are going to have miss out on another marker of time this year. No holidays, no birthday parties, no travelling, no having friends over, no fireworks and no Halloween. As a way to feel better I have heard many friends say: “Well, its an American thing anyway! Why do we celebrate it in the first place?”
And here is the thing, it isn’t! Halloween does have its origins closer to home for Europeans. Halloween is what the original Celtic festival of Samhain became over the years and after Irish families took it away and adapted it in America.
Around this time of the year the Celts would celebrate their new years eve, when the days were getting shorter and the nights started taking over. We are entering the ‘dark bit of the year’ and we are encouraged to look inside ourselves, face our fears and keep our seeds ready for the next Spring. The Earth has filled us with abundance all summer and the last bits of harvest can now be picked, the pumpkins, the butternut squash, chestnuts, blackberries. All of these we can pick for a feast with family to celebrate our luck and start retreating into the warmth of our homes.
The day started for Celts when the sun set so the celebration goes from the 31st of October to the sunset of the 1st of November. It is at this time when the veil is thin between the world we live in daily and the other magical worlds around us. So we can communicate with fairies, trees, monsters and witches (those who knew how to heal!) and access magic more easily as well as wish our ancestors well. Thats why we put lights at our doors; to show our soul family the way home and we put pumpkins out to feed the monsters and keep them happy and away from us.
So this year 2020 even if we can’t go out to trick-or-treating we can still learn from our ancestors and make the most of Samhain by looking in. Lets make it once more a family festival and welcome the darker bit of the year as a time to be cosy, creative and letting go of what we don’t need from the pervious year. I can think of a thing or two I’d like to let go of…..
Listen to the podcast here
Look through resources to celebrate Samhain here