Welcome to the approaching Time of the Ancestors, celebrated in both northern and southern hemispheres as Halloween, on October 31. Our ancestors would have recognized these times. when increasing numbers of children in so-called affluent countries go to school hungry and to bed cold, where previously honest mothers steal basic food items from grocery stores and millions flee with their children or shelter as best they can in war-torn lands.
But still the world turns and those of us with sufficient resources at this time of the ancestors, recall the old family stories, cook our great-great grandparents’ recipes and put extra in the food banks as we buy our grandchildren plastic spooky skeletons and scary masks in an unextractable mix of folk lore and commercialism.
In the northern hemisphere at Samhain, in the days that traditionally herald in the winter, we recall Jack o’ lantern whom the loveliest of Morrigu Fate sisters three times in his life asked to go with her across the river of death to immortality. He was too afraid; now he walks between worlds with his small light, recalled as the Halloween pumpkin, in some lands once a swede. In the southern world Jack laughs, changes his garments and in an eyeblink leaps into renewed life to celebrate the ancient summer’s return as wild Beltane Jack ‘o’ Green. He seizes life, free as the blossoming woodland greenery and crowns the maiden goddess with wildflowers.
For he reminds us at the season’s turning, both Jacks are one and the same and awaken within us at this time of the ancestors, recall or experience of good times and bad, feast and dearth and the choices are not always easy. But the human spirit can both mourn and rejoice, expressing in our words, our kindnesses, in those we try to influence for the better, the promise of newly blossoming flowers of summer and the falling leaves of the coming winter days, always one and the same.
May the blessings, wisdom and fortitude of the ancestors carry us to good times, taking with us the lessons that have cut through the carelessness of consumerism and the Lego brick secure world we created not realizing it would not withstand the storms.