Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday for me, more important than others. Sharing love and blessings around the table has always been a staple in many homes, especially in my Southern, Black influenced upbringing. And just like the importance of the meal we share, the stories around the table create very significant memories.
While I celebrate the festivities of gratefulness on other days and other holidays, Thanksgiving is one that is steeped in the memory of my mother, my cultural upbringing and family tradition. Mabon I celebrate with my coven sisters and on Thanksgiving I work to connect with my roots.
You might think, “Roots”? Why yes, my roots I say! My roots are deep into the lands of the South, rich in culture, wrapped in survival and polished with history. The foods of my family represent the stories of struggle that continue to whisper the messages of our lineage.
I considered how to carefully integrate the love of my faith with the love of my family culture and decided that this year it was a great opportunity to do just that. I spent two days recreating the foods of my family, pouring in love and health into the meal. I spent that time reminiscing on my mother’s skills in the kitchen and wishing she was with me. Thinking about all of the spiritual significance in the meal I was preparing and the essence of divinity that I was about to feed to my family.
The altars were lit all day on Thanksgiving day and the family mingled with one another. Prior to the serving of the meal, we all made a circle and talked about the ideas of harnessing gratefulness in our lives. We went around the circle for everyone to give thanks to what they are grateful for and it was amazing to see everyone from the oldest to the youngest give thanks. We held hands and thanked the God and Goddess, our ancestors and each other for all that we have and all we may have in the future. And then we ate.
We feasted on plates of southern cooking, close to how my mother would make them. We ate greens, homemade Mac and Cheese, yams, dressing, gravy, corn bread, ham, turkey and potato salad. We finished our meal with walnut topped pumpkin pie and banana pudding. I realized, after the meal was done, that so much on my plate symbolized my Black culture to me. I am so grateful that I did not lose it all in the fires of my mother’s crossing.
So I have continued to think about that intersection between culture and spirituality, making both parts of us whole in the oneness of our being. There are wonderful reminders that happen in our lives, moments that could easily be missed if not paying attention, and we have an opportunity to reassess the walls we have in place. Compartmentalizing our lives into sections does not always serve our overall needs. And I don’t think we always realize walls are even in place, separating parts of our experience, until they come down.
I am already looking forward to the next time that I can transition the multiple cultures of my home into a blended spiritual space. And in response to this, we have decided to continue to light our ancestor candle beyond the October month activities. We didn’t stop in November and will continue through December to keep the oneness of ancestor, history, culture and Pagan spirituality flowing in my home. More to come.