Samhaintide and Thanksgiving
Posted by Erik on November 26, 2008
To all my American readers, happy Thanksgiving – and to those elsewhere, I hope your day is as special in its own way.
Tomorrow (it is still Wednesday night, at this writing) is Thanksgiving. In my own evolving spiritual journey, it marks the close of what Mam Adar recently dubbed my “Samhaintide”, which began on November 1st; this concept has just kind of grown on its own, without my really directly noticing until this year. Basically, the period between Samhain and Thanksgiving has become a time when I focus more on my personal Ancestors, and family in general – it begins with acknowledgement and drawing closer to those relatives who have passed on, and ends with gathering with those who are still living.
This year the reminders and coincidences are especially strong – from the Day of the Dead encounter that I described previously, to last weekend when my late uncle’s widow brought up a bunch of his old slides and audiotapes of family gatherings, many of them from the period of my childhood when we all lived with my grandparents.
I also see this as another example of the “Americanization” of my religion – revival Druidry comes out of the British cultural matrix, and particularly living this far south the seasonal shifts are not really in alignment with the Wheel of the Year as traditionally understood, and so I find I have to adapt it to both the culture and nature where I am actually living. Some American holidays, particularly the patriotic ones, fit neatly into the Hellenic side of my practice – after all, libations to the Ancestors and Heroes are well attested in the oldest Greek literature – but some, like Thanksgiving, seem to fall more naturally into the Druidic aspect.
Of course, I also appreciate and observe Thanksgiving in its own right, for the things it normally stands for. This year I am especially thankful for my health, as my shoulder injury has turned out to be fairly minor (no tearing!). I have to take Celebrex and go to physical therapy for a few weeks, but the therapist said I can resume Aikido as long as I baby that arm; I was able to get back on the mat last night, and while I had to sit out some techniques I was able to train and was not even particularly in pain afterwards.
And, along with the Velveteen Rabbi, I am truly thankful for all of you who find these ramblings interesting enough to follow along – may the Gods bless you and yours with abundance, joy and peace tomorrow and throughout the holiday season.