Saturday, November 6, 2010

Samhain, death, and renewal

The Wheel of the Year is supposed to remind us of how things in life change. It always seemed a bit off to me, because the Wheel of the Year is predictable. The seasons always arrive in the same order, and at their expected times. Life is not like that. A person can get an illness, and it never gets better -- there is no spring of good health to look forward too. Or a summer-like time of good health, time spent with family, and financial stability could last for many years, and then it could unexpectedly be over in an instant.

But as I performed the Samhain ritual on November 1, I saw it another way. Instead of individual lives, I looked at the bigger picture. There is a cycle of renewal. Someone in my circle approaches death, but someone else in my circle was recently born. In the even larger picture, stars and planets die, but new ones are born.

The Samhain ritual in the Druidry Handbook includes a part that goes, "The veil between the worlds becomes thin, and the ancestors come close to us. Their voices whisper in the autumn winds. As we stand among the falling leaves and the gray and golden light, let us remember the past and its lessons, and gather a harvest of wisdom to bear us through winter to the new spring to come."

As the old generations pass away, the new generations can seek to carry forward the wisdom passed on by the old generations, even as the new generations are forging new paths, and additional wisdom to pass on to the future.

I am grateful that my grandmother tells me stories about my great great great grandmother. My grandmother remembers knowing my great great great grandmother, but it will not be so long before no one remains who remembers her. However, now I have the knowledge from my grandmother, and I can pass it forward to the future generations.

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