It seems exceedingly appropriate that this holiday should land on a Wednesday, a day that for me is very focused on introspection and thinking about where I am going or where I have been. Samhain is a good day for such things, as it is the epitome of the crossroads. It is the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, allowing the spirits to cross over into our realm.
There is a reason why so many cultures celebrate the dead at this time of year, and in so doing, we celebrate those who have gone before us, those who make us who we have become, and those who will help shape us into what we will eventually be.
Being adopted, I have no knowledge of my biological ancestors, but being Native American and tribeless, has given me an interesting perspective on what makes us who we are. My family (though we are not connected by blood) has made it a priority for me to know my heritage, though there is no paper trail to follow to prove it. As such, I have been given the opportunity to look into many different tribal customs, and it spurred me to look into the customs of many cultures besides my own.
As such, my path is different than most, and I am comfortable following the paths or in the houses of worship for almost all cultures, no matter how different they may seem on the surface. I can recognize the patterns that make them the same underneath, and I celebrate our similarities while honoring our differences.
But today (and the next three days) is for the ancestors, for the dead.
I acknowledge the ancestors; I acknowledge their wisdom and the way in which they have shaped me, though I may never have known them. I acknowledge the wisdom that I hear when things are quiet and I allow myself to listen to the whisperings of the wind in the trees.
Through those whisperings, those voices you hear just at the edge of your conscious mind, I’ve learned that we are all more connected than we realize. I recognize that we are born into a family, and yet we also choose a family into which we belong. I recognize the struggle to be accepted into both. And I recognize the truth in giving into our true selves and finding bits of those who came before within us. They mingle and dance in one’s heart and spirit as our DNA and our memories; they define us.
This is why we honor the dead: because, even though we may not realize it, they have touched us. Their lessons have been noticed, their words become ours, we are little more than a collaboration of all the people and experiences we have encountered in our past. We determine how we react in our present through the memories, words, deeds, and people of our past.
When I am upset, I hear my mother’s words of encouragement in my mind, while other words of hers, often words of humility, come out of my mouth. I both find comfort and the way to express myself through her.
In solitude, I may share my accomplishments with my grandfather, who passed several years ago, and yet I still want to share my joys with him. Sometimes, I want his blessing as I look for new paths that I want to walk.
This Samhain, I find myself at a crossroads as well.
I seek the advice of my ancestors to guide my steps as I look at my options. I ask for their wisdom to help me choose wisely.
It is to Hecate, Goddess of Crossroads, I feel drawn on this holiday. It is to her I turn for guidance: