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.
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!
So, 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
Are you remembering anyone during this time?
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!