Samhain is fast approaching and all throughout the land of fair Pagandom, folks are getting ready to honor their Beloved Dead.
Altars are being set up, shrines erected, and offerings made. I love this.
Having grown up Catholic, my childhood Halloween fun was sometimes interrupted by All Saints Day observations, depending on where Halloween fell in the week. Placing cheap flowers on graves, a half-hearted invocation from our Parish Priest, a few chats with living relatives, and then back home where I put on my conical hat and waited for trick or treating. Even as a child it struck me as being...soulless. I didn't connect with it.
But I've grown up a lot, and more of my extended family and friends have crossed the veil. This year alone brought a number of deaths, and I've had to face the mortality of my parents, my friends, and myself.
The wonderful thing about families such as mine is that tradition and heritage are so important and so strongly interwoven into everyday life. We prepare meals my peasant ancestors in the Czech Republic would have had during a rough winter. We play their music. We sometimes speak their language. The old stories are told around the table. Just last Thanksgiving the Top Secret Family Stuffing Recipe was handed down to me, and I was tasked with making it for the feast.
My Beloved Dead live on with me everyday. In everything I do.
But I must confess that my Samhain nights are almost always secular. Costumes to make. People's gore and effects makeup to do. Must-See Tacky Late Night Movies. Being on candy duty. These things take up lots of energy, time, and damnit, are a lot of fun. To skip out on that fun, magic, and family time to sit in my room and think about dead people seems counter-intuitive to me.
So how does one remedy this? How do you make it work?
Since so much of my famiy identity is connected to the Church, I must make my peace with Catholicism and attend the All Saints Day services with my family, in addition to my usual Halloween fun. I will make dishes my grandmother would have made. I will light candles and leave offerings. I will watch tacky movies and gorge myself on candy. And in the wee small hours of November, I will call the names of the Mighty Dead.
What do you have planned?
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