2023 Samhain Newsletter

sanhain: honoring our ancestors



Samhain Greetings my friends,


The time period, between Oct. 31st and Nov. 2nd is one of the most widely celebrated ancient traditions honoring our ongoing connection with ancestors and loved ones who have passed. Samhain meaning ‘summer’s end’ heralds the thinning of the veil between the seen and unseen worlds. An example of the old ways is the celebration of the Day of the Dead in Mexico or here in the US. Connecting with our ancestors and expressing love and gratitude has always been the theme of this time for thousands of years, long before ‘trick or treating’ as goblins and ghouls became popular.


How did we go from honoring and loving our ancestors to not even knowing their stories, or feeling their loving presence in our lives? Keep in mind we’re not talking about just our grandparents but those who are part of our lineage for millennia. Ancient rites often included people gathering at gravesites and burial mounds, to seek the connection and wisdom of our beloved ancestors. I’ve met and talked with indigenous people from Peru, or read books by those who do know the old stories, and I wonder why so many of us do not have access to this love and wisdom. 


Years ago, when I was writing my book, I discovered there is a lot of Archeological evidence that explains the loss. Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade, summarized the data and then added her deep wisdom to the ‘What Happened?’ history. She explained that the old ways, prior to Patriarchy, meant that people followed the deeply held values of community and cooperative living, and they understood the Divine as a nurturing, loving and abundant Great Mother. Land was never owned, but shared. Robin Wall Kimmerer, an author, ecologist, and citizen of the Potawatomi Nation explains that for thousands of years First Nation people were living with what she calls “an allegiance to gratitude” where giving thanks to Mother Earth and all who live here (plants, animals, rocks etc) was an everyday practice of reciprocal care and responsibility. (Braiding Sweetgrass)


We now know the history of the cruel and destructive colonization of North and South America which has led to so much loss of valuable rainforest, water sources and the poisoning of land and rivers, lakes and oceans, which is so regrettable. Now that we are waking up to a serious threat to all life on this once beautiful planet, what is now being made clear, is that the policies of attempted total destruction of the cultures who had been responsible stewards of Mother Earth, makes it imperative that we tune into the wisdom of all of our ancestors before we self-destruct.


What happened over the course of several centuries was the repeated invasions of the warlike herding tribes that took over the well-established agricultural communities. This was described by Harvard Archeologist Marija Gimbutas, in The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe. The marauding invaders replaced the sharing economies and brought in the rule of patriarchal power and the introduction of the Skygods. Their followers ruled with death blows and rape. Fear became the instrument of control over others and those who had the most land and live-stock insisted on the worship of the Skygods who were jealous and punishing, just as they were.


Once ‘Power Over’ others became the brass ring that all Patriarchs aspired to, cultures shifted from sharing to essentially hoarding: both people and vast portions of land were owned. Women, especially, became chattel and breeders. Once the Christian Church became the Roman state religion, all the institutions became hierarchal and fear based, religious organizations as well as heads of state. Kings and Priests had the power, and the higher up in the authority chain, the more abuse of that power. With this world view, why would anyone turn to ancestors for love, wisdom and support when they most likely had been cruel masters? The Church attempted to stamp out all ‘pagan’ practices, and those who celebrated nature in the old ways were often hunted down and burned at the stake.


The old practices of showing gratitude and giving thanks for the connection with Earth as our Mother is coming back, many of us are remembering the old ways, with some help from the Wisdom Keepers who are still around. 


Please celebrate the ancestors and the infinite intelligence of Nature, not only during Samhain but also all year round.


Much Love, Linda

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