I’ll just say up front that I don’t really care for Starhawk. I try to be sympathetic to the fact that a lot of it probably has to do with the different eras we’re coming up in, but still… I don’t like that she talks about the “pagan religion” as if there’s only one. Pagan is more an umbrella term to lump together a lot of religions than a religion in itself. And it annoys me when she talks about what “we, pagans” believe, as if she has the right to talk with authority about what anyone but the folks she knows and works with believe. And yet, if not for her and the work she’s done, would we even have the expectation of worshiping how we like. But maybe someone less annoying would have done it but….
But… all that being said, I do like her take on Halloween and death.
At this time of year, as we move toward Samhain or Halloween, the ancient festival of the ancestors, we say ‘the veil is thin’ that divides the world of the living from the realm of the dead. The ancestors return to visit us—and that is the origin of our Halloween customs of setting candles out in jack-o-lanterns to light their way to our doors, of giving offerings (once harvest offerings, now candy) to children, who are the ancestors returning.
Our metaphor for death is of a journey . When we die, the soul voyages across a dark sea to the Shining Isle, the Isle of Apples. There, we walk beneath the apple trees of the Goddess, trees which are in bud, blossom, fruit, and decay all at the same time, reviewing our life and its lessons, and growing ever younger, until we are at last young enough to be reborn.
I, myself, don’t believe in reincarnation, though I’m open to surprises. I just don’t believe that dreams and hopes and fears and memories die with the dreamer and I think there are ways for folks to tap into that. But I do love the idea of thinking of children as returning ancestors.
That’s very sweet.