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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There is More to Me than the Classics: A Conundrum

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I am wrestling with the focus of my blog. I fear I have limited myself to writing almost solely about 19th and early 20th century classic literature (which does make up the bulk of fiction that I read) and wonder if there is room for the history, pop culture and religion I also read?

The phrase relevant obscurity has always been directed at me personally, because the emphasis on the above nonfiction for most of my life made me so suspicious of fiction (I would like to write a post on that) that I am discovering classic literature for the first time. The relevance of these books and how they help me see the past and a period of history I love has added so much to my life.

IMG_4775And yet, I have been reading books on religion and spirituality since I was 12 when I was given a book on Hanukkah; that brought God into my heretofore agnostic worldview and set me on a seeker’s path of which I still walk. And the Medieval history I majored in and the American studies courses I took later still figure strongly in what I read now, though I don’t share any of that here.

 

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So, I am going to try some new kinds of posts throughout the next few months to see how comfortable I am about sharing more of my life through the various books I read, the thoughts they provoke and even some non-book-related musings, because while I have thought hard about starting another blog in addition to this one, oh man, that seems like a lot of work! But also, like many other bloggers and readers, I am multifaceted offline, so why pretend otherwise online?

 

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I would love to know if anyone else feels their blog, either by its title or focus, is too restrictive to the broader range of what they want to share?

What did you decide to do about it or are you still wrestling with it?

The Inability to Read

I have had such an unexpected reaction to my dad’s death: I could not, for weeks, sit down to read. I could not concentrate on more than a few sentences on a page. In fact, I began to hate it, loathe it, “having to do it.” Was this grief and why was it affecting me this way?

Reading has been effortless and one of my greatest loves since I was a kid. It has been my refuge, my savior, my “figure outer” of pain or confusion and my voyage, my journey to great adventures of the mind. I grew up in a reading household; and after he retired and to the end of his life my dad read every afternoon. My mom belongs to two book clubs and they shared books and thoughts about what and who they were reading.

I never expected, even thought about, how this might affect me, but every time I picked up a book after Dad died, my thoughts went to the table he read at every afternoon, shutting himself away upstairs for a few hours. I never thought about this image all the years of his life, but it was all I could see in my mind after he died.

I have been a little scared, wondering if I would ever pick up a book again. I know that sounds terribly dramatic, but the whole experience was so unforeseen….

But last Sunday as I was sitting in the living room my eyes moved to the biography of Edith Wharton I was thrilled to find several months ago and picked it up. In the quiet of the afternoon I fell into the great life and adventures of this writer whom I have wanted to know more about. What a relief to lose track of time in a book as I was used to!

Although not a very articulate description, grief is weird and awkward. And while I have had other family members and close friends die, this has been the hardest and has affected me differently.

Time. Yes. I know….But oh, it feels so good to be reading and writing again!

Have any of you ever had a situation where you couldn’t read?