I am intrigued by history. Fascinated by it. I learn from it and am entertained by it and live by it. So many modernized things were not for the best, in my humble opinion. Of course with my long flowing skirts and aprons I, myself, look as if I skipped out of another time period. There is so much to be learned from the history of our people and so many lovely things that if added to our life would make it all the more sweet, meaningful, magical. Samhain is one of them.
Now I do not consider myself wiccan or pagan. If I were to put my spirituality in a box, I am Catholic. A Catholic married to a Jew. We raised our children in a Christian church and they are now oddly Atheist. One of my best friends is Catholic married to a Buddhist who used to be, along with his parents (also our dear friends) Mormon. Our family and friends are all different races and religions and in the end we are all connected to one source. I am fascinated by the similarities in religions and histories across the world.
If you are like me and had most of your family come over to America in the 1700’s you will find that you are missing customs that would have been brought over. I am a bit saddened that we have zero cultural ties left. Most of my DNA will lead back to a strong Celtic heritage mixed in with some Dutch, Yeopim and Cherokee Indian, and Black French, but what they used to celebrate has been lost. So we create our own customs.
Samhain (pronounced Saw-win) dates back long before the Christian festivities (and the Hollywood made festivities too) and was an agrarian holiday. Now that we are homesteaders we understand these holidays so much more. Homesteading has become our lifestyle, our day in day out, our entire life is marked by nature and the seasonal shifts all around us. Instead of a smart phone, the changes in the natural world around us make our schedules.
Samhain is the end of the calendar season. The beginning of rest. The livestock were humanely butchered, the pantries were full, the fields were empty and the weather kept farmers indoors more. The folks that died over the past year were now mourned. Agrarians kept so busy during the late spring and summer that once things slowed down things really started to sink in. That is the case with us as well. And if we were all honest it is not just losing folks to death that bothers us, it’s any regrets we feel too. My friends and animals are in a better place, I know this. I am heading their same direction. It is the natural cycle of things. Not a new phenomenon for things to die. But I feel bad that I didn’t return Rollie’s phone call. That I nitpicked everything with Nancy so much during our time together pursuing our Farmgirl business, that we didn’t achieve her dream of a large farm to table dinner, partially because of my attitude. I feel bad that there are two more young widows out there who lost husbands. That I didn’t hold Loretta when she was dying. That I was so frustrated with my old dog. That I chose to put to sleep (so feel as if I murdered) my beloved cat. These things start to settle in as I spend more time on the homestead with less to do. If I knew they were going to die….or that I was responsible….these things set heavy on the soul.
Samhain was a time to light the bonfires as protection from evil spirits, the veil was thin between October 31st and November 1st and you could talk to your lost loved ones and perhaps they could communicate with you as well. It was a time of contemplation and respect.
In our modern world we do not take time to contemplate anything. The crafts and chores that were done that created a methodic rhythm have been replaced with fast shortcuts, things that do it for us, and no time to actually think. If we could take some time to work out our sorrows and talk to those that left, we could free up our hearts and minds and allow more joyful living to take place.
I will spend Halloween day with Emily and Maryjane trick-or-treating at a local mall then in the evening I will light candles. I will commemorate and talk to and say goodbye to those I have lost. My animals are our roommates, farm mates here. They are my people. Their loss, even the farm animals, is just as sorrowful to me as losing an old friend. They are included in my festivities. I will set some extra plates and invite them all to dinner along with Doug (who is thankfully still with the living) and give thanks for my life and ask that my friends and animals that left say a prayer for me, forgive me, and that they be at peace. I will be thankful for the harvest, all those still here, my own life, and for the year ahead.
Who will you light a candle for?