Feasts, Offerings, & a Thankful Strain
“We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be” — Algernon Charles Swinburne
“Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts and off’rings, and a thankful strain.” — Alexander Pope
Thanksgiving. Usually, as a heathen family, we don’t do much thanking on the last Thursday of November. We do, however, celebrate with an all-American spread of turkey, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, and pumpkin pie. We celebrate it as a specific feast — a feast for the ancestors — and we don’t spend time thanking American Indians or a Christian God for what we receive on our plates. Instead we bless the food, and invite the unseen ones — our ancestors and the folk spirits — to join in. There’s a heaping plate of food for them, left on the hearth.
I know that it’s not common practice these days to share a meal with one’s departed ancestors, especially here in the US, but our European heritage is full of such silent dinners, mummers’ feasts, and offerings left to the forefathers and mothers.
Let’s leave religion and tradition out of it for a second and see it merely as a celebration, a get-together, an extended family dinner where the current family remembers the family members who have passed on. It’s a useful way of keeping long lines of blood cohesively linked with each other through memory and ritual observances. People who have a connection to those from whom they have descended don’t consider family, ethnicity, and nationality to be mere conceits that should be thrown away in the name of globalism, one world, and so forth. Eminently practical, don’t you think?
Typically, at Thanksgiving, we ritualize union with our past and vision for our future. No gratitude of any nature has been necessary — instead we focused on remembrance, respect, and resolve.
This year, however, we are changing our focus. Widening it, would be a better way to put it. No, we won’t be including neo-con stories about the ‘real first Thanksgiving’ or leftish sermons about how we need to abolish Thanksgiving because it’s oppressive to people of native origin (and we won’t get into any arguments about Kennewick Man, either). Nor will we begin bowing our heads and scraping for grace. But this November 24th is going to be different from our past Thanksgivings. This Thanksgiving we’re going to set a place for our unseen guest, then… we are going to sit down and give some thanks.
Let me back track here.
A few years ago I wrote “The Creed of the Once and Future Folk” for a short-lived organization that never quite got off the ground. I found my first draft of it the other day, looking for something else in my document files. I am rather grateful to have found it, especially at this particular time of the year. It lists things that as a family, and as a folk, I am very, very grateful for. These are aspects of ourselves that are worth being grateful for . . . more than grateful for. These aspects are worth everything: exile, being burned at the stake, fighting for with both body and soul, fighting for to the death if need be. These are ours, our qualities, our aspects, our heritage: we possess them, each and every one of us, and for that I am — and will always be — eternally grateful.
We are a folk.
We are a folkway.
We have a history.
We have an ethnicity.
We are 100% complete as we are.
We need nothing.
We acknowledge the diversity that is humanity, we appreciate the specifics that make us European; neither diminishes the other.
We are right to keep our indigenous traditional ethnicity.
We are right to preserve our culture, our traditions, our DNA, our folksoul.
We are right to be happy with ourselves and to cherish our histories.
We are right to look forward to a future where our descendants will resemble our ancestors, as they have done for generations untold.
We have these rights, as do all folk.
We wish the world well, as we wish our folk well.
We are a good folk.
We do not accept any other creeds, outlooks or definitions, particularly those which seek to negate, to diminish and to invalidate our own special sacred place in this world.
We are right to exist.
We are right to continue to exist as we are, as we were, as we wish to be.
We are right to see ourselves as a once and future folk.
We are right to be grateful for who we are.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May your link in our chain stay strong.
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