Members of CUUPS across the nation are preparing to celebrate the wheel turning in our Samhain celebrations. For many of us, this is the time when the veil thins and we traditionally speak too and honor our ancestors in ritual, deed and celebration of the concept of the ‘Mighty Dead”.
This aspect of belief among many CUUPS members enriches our connection to the manifestations of divinity that preceded us upon Gaia. The very fact that we seek connection with our forbearers reflects our collective belief in the importance of family, community, tribe, tradition and historical connection.
My Social Justice Work
Recently, in my social justice work, I have been contemplating the history of my own ancestors and their actions upon this planet. My Grandfather, for example, was born in a country that had enriched itself upon the slave trade. He enjoyed a social status that was manifested upon the crushing load of historical trauma thrust upon the shoulders of people of color.
I am not saying he was a racist; clearly his families’ active opposition to the Nazi occupation demonstrates his positive embracement of justice and fairness as a principal. What I am getting at is that being of european decent, it is unavoidable to recognize my ancestor’s complicity in oppressive and racist systems.
As I speak through the veil this Samain my intent is to acknowledge this toxic history in my own generational lineage. Acknowledging the role of my ancestors in fighting injustice yes, but also addressing the history of oppression that established my place and my ancestors place of privilege in the world.
Clearly we cannot engage in historical familial judgment of our ancestors, that however does not release us from the responsibility to clearly examine how our place of privilege in society was established by our preceding generations.
Speaking to the Dead
As a Pagan, I believe that we can speak to the dead as the veil thins, I also believe that if we address our roles in oppression in these conversations our ancestors will acknowledge their collective role and support our efforts to manifest justice upon the face of this sacred earth.
This is the spiritual work of confronting privilege. Celebrating my ancestors without clearly addressing the reality of our their collective aggression towards people of color would just turn this sacred time of year into a continuing micro aggression against marginalized peoples.
It is my intent, having a connection to my ancestors, to face the historical trauma manifested upon people of color by my lineage and in doing so become a better allie, more fully able to grasp the history that continues to hinder our ability to manifest social justice for everyone.
Black Lives Matter, is more than a current political movement. If we are to stand as allies in the effort, we must also look deep inside and do the work that allows us to fully grasp the insidious nature of centuries of oppression.
All this begs the question of how this “shadow work” fits into our collective celebration of the turning of the wheel? Answer: as just a small part, that enables me to more honestly and openly celebrate my ancestors and the mighty dead of our traditions. My ability to party with my community sometimes is dependent upon and deeper understanding of my place within the great cycle of life.
If you are one of the few that this post makes uncomfortable, if you don’t like the idea of BLM being part of Pagan beliefs, if you believe introspection on this issue has no place in Paganism, Please, please, please sit with that discomfort and examine why the issue is triggering!