We are haunted, all of us.
In a few weeks time, we who honor the old ways will celebrate the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. As the sun sets on October 31st, the dead will walk among us. We will light fires and make sacrifice in their honor. We will ask for their protection, their guidance, and the benefit of their wisdom. We will invite them into our homes, set a place for them at dinner, and share with them the tales of years gone by as well as our hopes for the future.
Our myths and memories and ambitions, they are ghost stories, every one.
The ancient traditions tell us that the way is opened on November 1st, for the ancestors to enter into the land of the living. The celebration of the final harvest marked the beginning of the darkest season of the year. The air was cold…
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For the ancient Celts, exile was worse than death. It makes sense – for a culture that believed in reincarnation, death was not such a big deal. The honoured dead remained part of the community, their memory kept alive by story and song. To be exiled was to have no place to belong, no one to remember your deeds, it was to lose your land, your identity, your whole place in the world.
These days, exile might not seem like such a fearful thing. That, however, rather depends on how you relate to the process. Should you be willing to shrug your shoulders and move on to next town, where you aren’t known and you can start over then no, exile from a place doesn’t mean much. If you have a deep relationship with land that could be sorely compromised by broken relationships with people, it’s a whole other thing…
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