[Today we present a guest submission by Carrie Pitzulo. Carrie holds a Ph.D. in American History, but she would rather talk about ghost hunting, tarot cards, or her dinner with Hugh Hefner. Spiritual and metaphysical exploration is a lifelong passion that has brought Carrie to writing, teaching, and mentoring women on alternative spiritual paths. You can follow Carrie on Instagram, Facebook, or her personal website, Ancient Magic Modern Living. The Wild Hunt always welcomes guest submissions for our weekend section.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been cleaning out my mom’s apartment. She died a few months ago. I was surprised at how much stuff I left in her apartment, how much stuff everyone in my family collected throughout the years. Now, her stuff is at my house and, well – there’s just too much stuff. I’m hoping that the season of Samhain has time for some rummaging, sorting, giving away, and old-fashioned dumping.
The shifting of the seasons and the feel of fall in the air brings about some of the most meaningful and symbolic times of the year. Whether it is the crispness in the air, the Halloween decor, or the increasing conversations about the ancestors in mainstream circles, October is a busy month for all things witchy. It is one of the times of the year where some aspects of the Pagan world collide with the mainstream over-culture. While this time can be exciting for many of us, the depths of the coming celebration of Samhain is significant in many ways. We celebrate the turning wheel, the closing year, the power of the underworld, and the thinning of the veil between worlds.
In last month’s column we explored the topic of grief and some of the ways that people experience grief within our community. Such a vast topic cannot be exhausted in one article, nor should it be. With a topic like grief, one that is so very complex, there are many different aspects and approaches to unpacking its impact. Individual grief will always be a part of the process of life just as loss will continue to be a process of life. The past month we have seen several high profile celebrity deaths that have promoted a lot of sharing around the sadness that death leaves behind.
For every Pagan, Heathen, or Polytheist who takes care of the ill, the dying, and the loved ones of coven, clan, grove, as well as those who are solitary in their practice, there is the uneven bridge of connection during the time of final rites. Many who come to a variety of Pagan traditions were not born into them; in fact, even for those who are born into a tradition, there may be grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and estranged elders who will attend a ceremony of final rites as a matter of closure. Funeral rites and memorial services are a time of tricky navigation between those who understand and reflect on the importance that the decedent’s faith holds even in matters of death, and those who hold steadfast to tradition from the decedent’s family of origin regardless of how unwanted it may be. For those who have estranged family members, the test is not during a religious holiday such as Christmas, Ramadan, or Rosh Hashanah, but during illness, dying and death. After all, one can escape a family of origin when good health, a safe home, sufficient food, and a good job are present.