Samhain

So today is Samhain. It is that glorious holiday where pagans and witches celebrate the coming of winter, the thinning of the veil, honor those passed and seek to divine what will come.

Oh, and spooky costumes and drunken revelry.

In America we love our alcohol. We adore any excuse to get plastered and act with no consideration of our consequences.

“I did that? Oh, but I was drunk!”

It just strikes me that this doesn’t fit with the season much.

One of the reasons I stopped celebrating the Wiccan sabbats is that they all seemed the same to me. Harvest your successes. Plant the seeds for new successes. Discard the chaff of failures. Do some divination. Get drunk. Avoid going into details when you’re hungover at work the next day.

Samhain and Beltane in particular seemed to be this on steroids.

Because after all, who doesn’t love holidays centered on fucking and dying?

And don’t get me wrong: I love a good party. I’m just seeing less difference between Samhain celebrations and most Halloween parties, beyond the pretension of patting ourselves on the back for being “real witches.”

***

My favorite part of Samhain is the Dumb Supper.

It’s the one thing that makes an otherwise repetitive holiday in a repetitive harvest holiday calendar notable. And it is powerful.

I remember my cousin a lot. He died of leukemia a number of years ago. I had a lot of conflict with my grandmother when she was alive, but this year I think I’ll set something aside for her. And I remember other people who have passed on, like the girl in my class that was killed in an arson fire.

I’m a storyteller. And that means telling stories from the past, remembering it. And that means telling stories about those who are no longer with us.

But the remembering comes before the telling. So we remember in silence before speaking aloud.

But there’s more to it.

Autumn is a time of self-reflection. It is a time of consolidation. It is a time of dormancy.

It is a time for us to remember our own stories. And to ponder how other will speak of us when we’re gone.

And if we don’t like the way those stories will sound, it is time for us to think  of how we will change those stories, or have better one told about us.

Wintertime is a great chance to be remembered fondly by others. Because those others are in need, and how we help them is important to how we are remembered.

And this is something that we miss in modern comfortable society, and it is a story we must remember to tell ourselves.

Because we ponder these things on Samhain. And we do it because of tradition. Because traditionally, a lot of people who pondered the passing of others on Samhain didn’t survive the winter.

What stories will people tell of you?

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