WitchWeek 2017 & The Days of the Dead

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In many traditions at this time of the year it is believed the veil between the living and the dead is thin. I don’t think it is any coincidence that Halloween/Samhain, the Day of the Dead and All Saints’/All Souls’ Day occur within days of each other. Darkness has begun its descent over the land and that always brings up death. Christians probably took up the earlier concept of the Pagan commemoration of the dead and made it their own, but instead of seeing this as a competition, I see it as complementary.

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I came to this conclusion as I worked on my guest post for WitchWeek, a week long celebration of fantasy books and authors hosted at the Emerald City Book Review. This year, the theme is Dreams of Arthur.  I finally understand the overlap of Paganism and Christianity that infuses King Arthur and Camelot: that King Arthur emerges from Celtic folklore, yet becomes very firmly placed in one of Christianity’s biggest mysteries, the Quest for the Holy Grail.

That the occupier appropriates the customs of the occupied is an important awareness, but it doesn’t mean we have to throw out the newer rites. During the last several generations the resurgence of Paganism, Witchcraft, modern Druidy and other non-Christian traditions continues to rise and practitioners reconstruct rites and ceremonies that, in my opinion, are a positive shift.

The last harvest is another theme we share. Just as in the old days people spent this time of the year gathering up the last of the harvest, bringing in the animals and making preparations for winter’s long period of indoor living, we do the same. This was made clear to me during the years I lived in Chicago when the changes of seasons—and the changes of activities—especially during winter, were in stark contrast to those of my native California!

crowmoonSo, as we begin to pull in both externally as well as internally we reap our modern harvest. And as we did of old we celebrate our ancestors and remember our more recent dead.

I wish everyone a Happy Halloween, Samhain Blessings, a meaningful Dia de los Muertos and Blessed All Saints’/All Souls’ days.

 

I am remembering my dad today, who died this year:

James Martin Welch
June 26, 1932-April 17, 2017

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Are you remembering anyone during this time?

 

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Join Lory this week in celebrating King Arthur, his Knights and the Camelot community with posts, a giveaway, lively discussions and a readalong of Kazuo Ishiguro’s, The Buried Giant!

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9 thoughts on “WitchWeek 2017 & The Days of the Dead

  1. I remember all of my family members at this time; all of those I’ve known and lost from childhood. Though I do that all year it’s paticularly in the dark months when I can light a candle.

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  2. Its important to have a period of time to remember and honor our lost loved ones. This is expressed is different ways for different people and sometimes religion complicates this. I know your remembering your dad and may his memory and the life he lived stay close to you, always.

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  3. I think it’s really difficult for city-raised folk (and I call myself one!) to fully appreciate what seasonal change means to those who work on the land and with farm animals. We spent ten years in a rural upland area and had insights into how seasonal changes affect and dictate life there.

    Christian feasts like Candlemas, Easter, All Saints and Christmas — which to many of us nowadays just represent jollification or a trip to church — had their European roots in lambing, first fruits, slaughter of surplus livestock or communal midwinter celebrations, a fact which urbanites are generally unaware or careless of. No wonder that for those of a negative nature such occasional highlights can seem like empty pointless extravanganzas.

    Oops! Sorry to be an unwelcome guest at the feast — I promise to lighten up next time! (It’s probably the darker evenings that give me a touch of SAD.)

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    1. I think you’re right that city slickers don’t understand the rural seasonal cycle as it applies to farmers. We have a different ‘wheel of the year’ so to speak that is based on other priorities. And with the advent of factory farming, the natural cycle of most farm animals has changed so much that the annual cycle of birth and harvest and the holidays celebrating them don’t make much sense to the traditional model.

      Also, seasonal changes and their drama or subtlety depend on where in the world you live. For those who would like to celebrate the holidays of their pre-Christian ancestors of Europe, they hardly make sense in temperate, desert or Mediterranean climates.

      But this discussion is quite timely, because here in the US we are about to “fall back” and end daylight savings until the Spring, when we will then “spring forward” and start that cycle all over again. Urbanites like to mess with the natural order of things any chance we get, I guess.

      And btw, you can buy special lighting for your home to mitigate the affects of SAD 🙂

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      1. You’re right of course. And what you say about holidays celebrated in different places is certainly true, as when Australians have Christmas at the height of their summer with a barbecue outside.

        As for SAD, it doesn’t affect me much, except that today we didn’t go for our usual walk, which definitely puts us in a positive mood!

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