Ancestors and Samhain

Back when I fancied myself a Wiccan… (Huh. Firefox’s spell-check recognizes “Wicca” but not “Wiccan.” One of the suggested alternatives is “Anglican.” This amuses me.)

Anyway, as I was saying, back when I considered myself a Wiccan Samhain was my favorite holiday.

This was partly because I always loved Halloween. As a girl it was a magical time when I got to dress up and roam the streets after dark. As an adult, well same thing really. I suppose I can (and do) roam the streets at night anytime I want now, but its more fun on Halloween. And the Weeping Angel costume might get me committed another time of year (outside of Comic-Con, anyway.)

But also as a religious holiday it had more meaning to me than the others. I can literally feel the veil thinning this time of year.

When we were living in the Bay Area, we would regularly attend Reclaiming’s Spiral Dance, which are still the most powerful public rituals I’ve ever been part of.

I guess that’s why Samhain is one of the only Wiccan holidays I still celebrate, in my own way.  (Imbolc is the other, because of a personal debt of gratitude to Brighid.)

Speaking of the veil thinning, I had a dream the other night about the little girl on the left. She was maternal grandmother. She passed away in the early 80’s. I spent most of my life, before and after her passing, actively disliking her. She did not like children, didn’t know how to relate to them. Since I was a child when she died, most of my memories of her are rather unpleasant because of this. (There are also some stories about her questionable treatment of my mother as a girl, but that’s second hand stuff.)

The thing is, since I’ve moved back to my home town and have been spending a lot of time with my mother (the adorable, but grumpy girl in the middle of the top photo) I’ve been learning things about my grandmother that have really humanized her in my eyes. On top of this, I’ve started to see how alike we are. (For example – I don’t do well with children either. I just had the good sense not to have any. Not really an option for a young married woman in the 1930’s, I guess.)

In my dream I first met “ghost” of my mother (who is alive and well) as a little girl. Then my grandmother. Both about the ages they were in these pictures. It made me really happy.

I’ve been feeling really bad about all the dislike I’ve sent her way over the years. I’d like to take this Samhain to try to heal that relationship.

Another ancestor I have unresolved issues with is my maternal grandfather, her husband.

I loved my grandpa.

In a way, he was the ideal grandfather – a great storyteller who knew everything. And what he didn’t know, he made up.

Everybody in my family adored him. And they still do. So I’m not going to go into any details here, since some family members might read this blog, but yeah. Issues. I’m not sure how to go about healing that one. But I’d really like to. Like I said, I practically worshiped him.

The thing about Samhain that I like, religiously or at least magically, is that it is the one NeoPagan holiday where I got real work done. Not that worshiping the Gods isn’t really work – obviously, its very important. But personally, I never really connected with the Wiccan mythic cycle, and being a solitary NeoWiccan, had never been introduced to the Gods of Wicca. So even at that time, these holidays were more about their other associations for me: Samhain/ancestors, Beltane/fertility (liked that one, too), etc.

The ancients that inspired my current path also venerated their ancestors and looked to them for aid and guidance. It was important to maintain good relationships even after death. Maybe that’s why Samhain still feels like it fits.