Dear Ones, it seems that autumn has finally (and suddenly) arrived! I’m watching the leaves begin to show the colors that have been hidden behind their green, and I’m enjoying the crispness of fresh apples and fall air. Seasonal transition is really apparent in this place at this time, and my Pagan heart knows this season as a sacred opportunity to reflect on the transitions in my life. Many people who follow Pagan traditions see nature’s transitions as metaphors for our own cycles, and find autumn to be a fitting time to honor the ancestors. And the sabbat of Samhain, which lands on the last day of October, is said to be the day that “the veil between the words of the living and the dead is the thinnest.”
So in this season, I remember that all of life is a cycle of beginnings and middles and endings, and that even those that bring me grief are a natural part of being alive on Earth. I remember that my own life is full of cycles, and cycles within cycles, and that the changes I experience in my body and my mind and my heart are also natural transitions. And I remember that I’m part of many threads of connection through time – my family of origin representing a direct line to German culture and tradition, the generations of white Europeans who colonized the land on which I now live, my Pagan and Unitarian and Universalist and UU forebears, the long line of human observers and researchers of the natural world – to name just a few.
That brings me to the gifts of heritage. As someone who is not close with their family of origin, thinking about heritage as simply my connection to my “blood” ancestors can be fraught for me. I appreciate the spirit of Ralph Ellison’s statement: “Some people are your relatives, but others are your ancestors, and you choose the ones you want to have as ancestors. You create yourself out of [their] values.” And I wonder whether you also have hard situations with relatives, and whether this more expansive understanding of ancestors as those we choose is helpful to your heart and spirit. So as we explore the gifts of heritage through this month, I look forward to building an arc that includes consideration of who we claim as ancestors, along with the gifts we’ve received from them.
In faith and love,