“So I wonder, this year, is it possible for us to celebrate the living ancestors and not to have a gore-fest over dead remains of ancestors? The horror genre does not belong to this festival and only arose due to the Reformation when we stopped praying for the dead in Europe. Ancestors are like us. They loved, hoped, sat round the hearth, mourned their dear ones. Excluded ancestors can be scary because their pain overlaps our own lives: however, when we invite them to our hearth shrine, we begin to feel less abandoned ourselves.
It is the unmoving, lingering pain of ancestors who are stuck out of time that causes the horror and so why not do something about it? In his book, Images of the Soul, Dutch shaman, Daan van Kampenhout suggests this prayer whenever we encounter the pain of forebears: ‘Your pain is from the past. All that caused it has stopped now. Behind these tears is the pure strength of your soul. The soul is healthy and free, the suffering was only there when you lived, and now you live in spirit, so the pain has ended.’ Unless we actually address the excluded ancestors, then dawn will never arrive for them or for us. Let’s try a different way and see what changes this Hallowe’en so that we can say this prayer with heartfelt joy:
I am the hallow-tide of all souls passing, I am the bright releaser of all pain, I am the quickener of the fallen seed-case, I am the glance of snow, the strike of rain. I am the hollow of the winter twilight, I am the hearth-fire and the welcome bread, I am the curtained awning of the pillow, I am unending wisdom’s golden thread.