Celebrating the Season

There are very few things in the world that I love more than sweater season. The moment I first get to crack open my fall/winter clothing storage box and pull out my favorite cardigan is practically its own holiday. Okay … I exaggerate a little bit. But, I love autumn. It’s my favorite season. And the Earth-based holidays associated with the fall in the northern hemisphere are the ones that speak to my soul. I love the feeling of descent, the movement inward, the time of reflection, the sap returning to the root… While I love the trappings and scents of fall, this season is more than just chilly days, turning leaves, and hot apple cider for me. It’s a visceral sensation of release and a desire for the darkness that comes with this particular turn of the Wheel.

We’re coming up on Samhain in just a couple of weeks – and I am loving all the announcements of celebrations, rituals, and gatherings that I’m seeing gracing my Facebook feed. It’s so much fun to see the myriad of ways my larger community of friends honor this time.

I have a few long-standing Samhain traditions that I hold dear. Probably the most personally significant is the annual Ancestors Dinner that I host each year. I lost track of how many times I have hosted, but I was doing it before I moved to Chicago, and that was about 17 years ago. Each guest brings a dish reminiscent of an ancestor of either blood or spirit, or something related to their own ancestral background. It’s definitely never the same meal twice – but we consistently eat like royalty. As we eat, we share stories and songs about our beloved dead. I look forward to this event for months leading up to it.

As guests arrive, I always try to put together a playlist of musicians that have passed. Ideally, I try to get artists that died in 2018, but I can guarantee that Tom Petty is still going to be on the playlist, because I will never get over that one. This year though – Aretha Franklin is getting her own showcase.

My other favorite thing to do each year is to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art, a spectacular institution in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago, for their Día de Muertos exhibition. Each year a group of artists create traditional and contemporary ofrendas that are always striking and emotionally impactful.

What are you doing to celebrate? If your community is offering a public ritual, what’s the intention? What chants are you singing? (Need a few ideas? Check out “Will You Lay Your Stories Down?”, “Open Hearts”, and “Take Me Home Again” on our Chants page.) What celebrations will you be doing in a more intimate setting? How will you honor your beloved dead? Please post a comment and let me know what you’re doing. I am always interested in the threads of connection to hear how we acknowledge those who have gone before as well as those who are living.

Regardless of what you are doing, I wish you all the blessings of the season. May this be a time of reflection and release wherever you find yourself.

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