As I decolonize my language and spiritual practices, I increasingly look to my cultural past to learn how my Ancestors connected with the land and its changing seasons, and how they celebrated their connection to the energies of Land, Sea and Sky . . . especially at those liminal times when we shift with the energy of the Land (and physical world) celebrations (Solstices and Equinoxes) and the Fire (and Otherworld) Festivals (Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh), such as our current shift away from Samhain energy to Winter Solstice energy.
But like many of you, my DNA comes from many traditions; for me, that is Irish (Celtic), Manx (Isle of Man, also Celtic)), Northern England and Scandinavia (mostly what we now call Norwegian). I identify as English by birth (but actually a small part of my DNA!) and Irish by heritage . . . and delighted to learn that of my other ancestral roots and plan to honour all of them in my personal celebrations.
During the winter season, our ancestors — especially those in northern climes and locales — focused on indoor activities, as outdoor work was mostly done for the year. This was the time of schooling for the family and children. It was a time of communal activities in the home and in the village: making thread and wool from harvested plants and sheared fleeces, weaving cloth, knitting and quilting (yes, what many experienced as “women’s work”).
And in Celtic cultures, it was also the time when the bards, who roamed from town to town in the warmer days, would return to one community and stay there until Spring, sharing their wisdom, their stories and their songs.
When my Irish ancestors — and perhaps your ancestors too — grouped together for their communal activities, they shared food, libations, stories and memories specific to their family and their locale. When the bards visited, he shared the stories of their outer world . . . of the kings and warriors, the gods and goddesses, the fairy folk and of the land itself.
As you embrace this new year, and this new season, consider how the practices of your ancestors may still have relevance today.
In these dark months of the coming winter, in this time of deep Divine Feminine energy and wisdom, perhaps these ancient practices will inspire you, especially as we approach the Winter Solstice (December 22 @ 04:19 UTC). Perhaps you will celebrate, instead (or also!) Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Shab-e Yalda, Toji, Dong Zhi or any other cultural festivity welcoming the return of the Sun.
How will you embrace this period of rest, repair and regrowth before the coming Spring?
Perhaps you will create a get-together sharing stories of your family so that the younger generation will get to know their family roots.
Perhaps you will start a new tradition of a crafting evening, sharing skills and delicious treats and beverages.
Perhaps you will organize an evening of music and song.
Perhaps you will learn something new.
Whatever you choose, enjoy the Pause that Samhain and the coming Winter Solstice bring . . . and perhaps choose to Remember together: share and celebrate your heritage, your culture, your ancestors, your skills with family and friends.
And do share how it is manifesting for you in our private women-only Facebook group the Wise Woman Bean Gealach Circle!