30 April 2013

A Candle for our Ancestors

As the sun moves north of the equator on its way up to the Tropic of Cancer, the days continue to grow shorter and the nights longer.  This is the time of the An Ghrian Mór or “small sun” to the ancient Celts, that marks the commencement of the dark half of the year.  Now is the festival of Samhain.

The word Samhain is said to come from the Scots Gaelic samhainn and the Irish Gaelic samain or samfuin, both meaning “summer’s end” (at least from an etymological perspective) with sam meaning “summer” and fuin meaning “sunset” or “end”.  Within the Irish medieval myth mentioned earlier, Tochmarc Emire, Samhain is the first of the four quarter days mentioned by Emer to the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn: “Samhain, when the summer goes to its rest, ” records Ronald Hutton in his book, Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain.

Honouring our Ancestors
In Ireland and Scotland, a festival referred to as Feile na Marbh (the Festival of the Dead) was believed to have taken place; or in modern language, Oíche Shamhna (Irish) and Scots Gaelic, Oidhche Shamhna where the custom was (and in some places today still is) to set a place for the dead at the Samhain feast, and to tell tales of the ancestors on that night.

Originally, the "Feast of the Dead" was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the "wandering dead", or a single candle was left lit in the window to help guide the spirits of ancestors home.  Ancestors can fall into three categories - blood relatives, lineage (spiritual or otherwise), and those who are not related to us but who have inspired/enabled us to make life changing decisions (often for the better).

Alex Sanders

Samhain is a time of introspection. It is a time to heal the source of our deepest wounds, and those we have inflicted upon others around us. It is a time when we can learn to see things more clearly. We use this time to remove all falsehoods that we have built up throughout the year. We also can use this time of the year to remove those aspects of our life, which we have grown out of or no longer need.

By lighting a candle for our ancestors, regardless of their relationship to us or whether we know them or not, we give our thanks for their assistance in allowing us to become to person we are.

On this day in 1988 a man born Orrell Alexander Carter passed away after losing his battle with lung cancer.  More commonly known to the world as Alex Sanders, the founder of the Alexandrian tradition of Wytchcraft, Alex was also a gifted healer, ceremonial magician, and ritualist.  He also had many faults, including being a trickster with what he told to the media he courted (some of which backfired) but despite this, he was extremely devoted to his Craft and to his beloved Goddess.

Alex influenced a great number of people all over the world and through the various offshots of the tradition that came to be named after him, continues to do so. 

Blessed be, Alex - may your beloved Goddess continue to be by your side regardless of where your spirit may be today.

1 comment:

  1. With this year marking the 25th anniversary since the passing of Alex Sanders, I am currently re-reading a few books written about him. One of these is "Fire Child" by one of the few people who knew him best, his ex-wife and High Priestess, Maxine.

    See my previous review of this book - http://templedarkmoon.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/fire-child-life-and-magic-of-maxine.html