Historically, Pagans used this time of year to leave offerings of bread, fruits, and sweets outside their doorways to welcome the good spirits and ward away the bad ones. This tradition is why many people in this part of the world now parade carved jack-o’-lanterns, serve candy, and dress up in costume every October 31.
But the holiday is about so much more than Hollywood-style ghosts and a sugar buzz: It’s about connecting to the spirits of those who have passed, our ancestors.
On that note, gather around the proverbial campfire because I have a story for you: Just over a year ago, I felt compelled to go to England, to stand in the place of my ancestry. I had never been, and I have never met my grandfather who was born there—but he had been around me in spirit for the past couple of years.
When I say “around me,” I mean he was on my mind often: Sometimes I’d see him in dreams; sometimes I’d feel drawn to ask my mom about him. Ironically, my estranged brother was also speaking of going to England at that time and had independently requested information about him too.
Here’s the cool part: I found out through the grapevine (aka, my mom) that all of us in the family had been watching a TV series called Poldark around this time. It’s the story of a tin miner in Cornwall set back in the late 1800s. When I started to do my research on my grandfather, I found out that this show was filmed in the exact parish he lived in. I had chills. It felt like he was calling the family back together somehow from beyond the grave.
I went to this parish and stood on the rocky shores, saw the crashing waves, the churches, the pub (of course), and walked the road and paths that our family walked. It turned out that my great grandfather was born there, and the family goes back around 200 years in this place.
Flash-forward and that trip has greatly connected me to him, to England, and to a desire to understand and heal vis-à-vis ancestry in a family that does not talk much about the past.
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