Things you may already know:
Autumn is my time. I was born the day before Halloween and the surrounding holidays have rooted my identity. Honoring a new year (my birth), the dark (Halloween), family who traveled this world and left (Day of the Dead) and light– to balance the dark (Diwali).
My spiritual community of choice is currently an online gathering of souls seeking to live out our values in the way that is best for us. It is called Flock.
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Right now I am acting as a host in the group and planning out my personal rituals and celebrations for the season. This includes preparing sugar skulls and paper flowers which look something like this.
I have also been bringing together photos to create artwork for my ofrendas. Including photos of my grandparents:
And a recent ancestral discovery—my 12th great-grandmother, Anne Marbury Hutchinson. In 1637 she was tried and banished and a year later excommunicated by the Puritans for espousing her religious beliefs and sharing them with other women in the colony.
In the Flock, other women have been sharing stories from their families. All of them are affirming, but some hold elements of sadness or tragedy. As I struggle with pieces of my own family story I have decided to revisit a book called Reclaiming Your Story: Family History and Spiritual Growth. It is written from a distinctly Christian perspective, but gives a very succinct and powerful introduction to family systems with questions for reflection that enlighten me anew each time I visit them.
In the case of preparing for Day of the Dead, I consider these questions also from my parents and grandparents perspectives, trying my best to honor those who have passed by more fully understanding their lives and relationships.
“Merle Jordan argues that many people spend their adult lives struggling to distinguish between the imperatives of divine authority and the deeply rooted psychological authority of family structures. Employing the wisdom of his experience as a pastoral psychologist as well as the insights of clinical researchers and therapists, Jordan offers ways to demythologize false absolutes and to refocus distorted maps of reality.”
The description sounds a little more heady than the book actually is. I haven’t drawn a genogram or written anything spiritually autobiographical since seminary. I am inspired to do so again. The book isn’t perfect but it does marry the familial and spiritual in a specific way that has helped and continues to help me unlock aspects of my family of origin and connection to the religion of my upbringing.