We had our Trick-or-Treat night here last night, and got 40 trick-or-treaters. Not bad, though we usually get a few more. It was cold and windy, though, so that’s probably why. All the kids were polite, and I would say about 40% of them were teenagers! Nice to see them out having some innocent fun.
No weirdness last night, but tonight is actually the night when the veil is thinnest…I will be thinking about and honoring my ancestors, and all those I care about who have passed. I don’t expect any trouble from whatever-it-is, but if it starts making noise and throwing things, I am gonna be right pissed-off.
I have always just stumbled my way along, in terms of any rituals etc as per my beliefs, but recently I came across a website that really resonated with me: Celtic Reconstructionism. According to the website, celtic reconstructionist paganism is “a polytheistic, animistic, religious and cultural movement. It is an effort to reconstruct, within a modern Celtic cultural context, the aspects of ancient Celtic religions that were lost or subsumed by Christianity” (“What is Celtic Reconstructionism (CR)?” Paganachd/Paganacht – A Celtic Reconstructionist Gateway, 2006).
There is a lot to absorb in this website and I am still reading and pondering. I do have Irish Celtic roots, although I can’t trace them back farther than my great-grandfather (who was born, I believe, in County Cork). I lived in Dublin for 2 years, and, I guess like many Americans, felt really comfortable there.
I hesitate when I write about Ireland, because I don’t want to sound like a ‘typical Irish-American’, someone who is all the time blathering about “Irish roots” and all that. I had often heard my Irish friends make fun of Americans like that, you know, the “my great-great-great-grandmother’s cousin came from Ireland…somewhere…so that makes me Irish!” tourist that the Irish encounter on a regular basis.
My friends used to ask me, “Why aren’t Americans just proud to be Americans? Why do they always have to hyphenate it with something else?”
And I guess the answer to that is, we are a young country. None of us have ancestors who are native to this land, unless we are a part of one of the indigenous tribes here. Look at our “culture” – on the face of it, it’s McDonald’s, guns, drugs, insular attitudes (as one of my Northern Irish friends so aptly put it), and it can be somewhat artificial/materialistic/superficial in nature.
A lot of us do have traditions passed down within our families, but often those are from other countries. Most of my family recipes – the ones I could find, anyway – are Irish or English (my great-grandmother was born in England). I think that’s true for most Americans.
Let’s face it – just being American can be boring! Or so many people seem to believe. So they might say, “I’m Irish”, when what they really mean is, “I think I have Irish ancestors somewhere in my family”. This usually annoyed my Irish friends.
So I don’t want to come off like that.
Having said that, however, I was deeply saddened when it was time for me to come back to America from the island where I lived. Of course I missed my family, so that was the happy part, but I really grieved what I felt was the loss of my home, for a very long time. I still cannot watch certain movies or read certain books without feeling very sad and very disconnected to the life I live now.
It may sound stupid, or cliche-ish, but I felt at home in the Republic, and in Northern Ireland too. I’m not going to get into the politics, except to say that, unless you have lived there, you really cannot understand. So I am going to leave that completely alone.
When I lived over there, I felt as if I belonged. In fact, I experienced none of the issues I have had with people in my own country. Oh, I was still seen as an American, of course, but I was never felt to be unwelcome, or even as an outsider. It’s really hard for me to explain how comfortable I was living there. As homogeneous as Irish culture can be at times, I was never felt to be any less of a person because I wasn’t Irish.
I have never felt as comfortable in the U.S. Never. I have, many times, felt to be less than a person in my own country.
When I returned in 2003, I immediately started looking into emigrating back. I can’t claim citizenship, because my grandmother was born in Chicago and her birth was never registered in Ireland. Had it been, it’s possible my mother could have made a claim. But, as it is, that’s not possible.
And while I do have a university degree, it’s not in a field where Ireland needs workers (psychology). So applying for worker visa status would most likely be fruitless.
I’m stuck. I haven’t even been back for a holiday, and I miss it so much. I miss my friends too.
Anyway, I have wandered way off-topic. I was writing about celtic reconstuctionist paganism.
In my belief system, I have many gods and goddesses. The ones I connect with are Irish. It has always been so with me. But I have never had a good handle on the ancient beliefs, and I think that would be a good fit for me. Or my deities think it is a good fit for me. At any rate, I am drawn to this and I will continue to study and pursue it.
I hope you find the links interesting.
And I hope, however you celebrate it, you all have a very good Halloween!