Honoring My Ancestors

As the Great Wheel turns and time moves forward into Fall, I’m reminded of many traditions I’ve experienced over my lifetime.  In my childhood years, the winding down of Summer into Fall was a marker of life slowing down into the important activities of reaping what we had sown.

Alfred Albert Raatz and Theodore Julius Wagner (ca. 1958)
Childhood farmhouse near Oakes, ND (ca. 1981)

 In growing up on a farm, Fall was the time where harvest was nearing its end and we made the ground ready for winter.  We began to tend to all of the various aspects of our property by doing maintenance on buildings, mending fences and arranging our equipment to be stored.  This time of slowing down and gathering our crops often meant coming together with neighbors and family to help.  There was more time spent together as life seems to condense more and more as the temperature drops toward the long winter ahead.  

Mildred and Theodore Wagner (ca. 1958)

When I consider life slowing down from Spring toward Winter, I’m reminded of the parallels of my life and that of people who have come before me.  The Spring is a time of birth and renewal.  Summer is about growth, learning and expanding.  Fall is about reaping the harvest or seeing and experiencing the benefits of all your hard work, and the ending of a cycle toward death.  And finally, there is Winter.  Winter is about reflection on the prior year, resting and healing.  It’s also about planning toward the coming year and preparing for new life to come in the Spring.

In the Christian traditions it is known as All Hollow’s Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead.

Gordon, Larry and Marvin Raatz
Goldie and Alfred Raatz (ca. 1959)

In the traditions of the various peoples and religions, Fall was often in alignment with honoring the dead.  In the Christian traditions it is known as All Hollow’s Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead.   In the Pagan traditions it is known as Samhain.  And the Druids called it Calan Gaeaf.  Some of those traditions also considered Fall the end of their year.

Marvin and Alice Raatz (ca. 1970)

 In my research and some of my own personal experiences, I’ve found that Fall really does feel like the completion of a cycle, or in a way it could be considered a kind of death.  While this can feel very depressing, it is a natural cycle that is part of life on this planet and something we should honor.

The beginning of October is also a very emotionally turbulent time for me.  It is especially turbulent because three significant events happened on October 8th.  On this date in 1936, my mother Alice Marie Wagner was born.  On this date in 1966, my wife Melissa Anne Strack was born.  And on this date in 2007, my father Marvin Dale Raatz was killed in a car accident. It’s is a difficult time because there is a part of me that wants to celebrate the birth of two very significant women in my life and another part of me that still mourns the tragic death of my father.  I try to look at his passing by celebrating his life, and in doing so attempt to merge my feelings together between birth and death.  But how am I ever going to be able to reconcile my emotions around these polar opposites?  Perhaps there is no way to reconcile the feelings.  Perhaps it’s better to honor them both equally.

Alice and Marvin Raatz (ca. 2001)

In the spirit of the traditions of the Ages, for the month of October I am honoring my ancestors.  I am honoring my Father, my paternal and maternal grandparents and all who came before them in my lineage.  I am also honoring those in my life who have come before me that are not of my bloodline.  I believe that part of who I am today can be traced back to not only the genetics of my lineage, but I also others who have touch my life in very specific and lasting ways.  While I believe that I came into this life with my own personality, goals and innate abilities, these things are inextricably woven into all that has happened before me.  Much like the Butterfly Effect, all of the major and seemingly minute actions of the life, the Universe and Everything (before I was born) has come together to create a completely unique person.  In that vain,  I honor all of life that has come before me to this day.

Until the moment that I draw my last breath, it is important for me to remember that my own actions in this life not only shape my own experience, but also that of countless others.

Grave – Marvin Dale Raatz (02/28/1929 – 10/08/2007)

Until the moment that I draw my last breath, it is important for me to remember that my own actions in this life not only shape my own experience, but also that of countless others.  Just as the flap of a butterfly’s wings can contribute to a hurricane’s creation, I have a responsibility to live my life honorably.  I must remember that my actions matter to those that are close to me and to the person I pass in the street.  This perspective is a game changer which moves me outside of my own head-games in into a role of power and influence.  It is in the act of honoring my ancestors that I am reminded of the importance of my life and actions for those who come after me. 

Dwight Raatz,
September 28, 2019

The Contradiction of This Day

The More

Today I honor two events connected to my life.  The first is the celebration of my mother’s birth day and the second is the celebration and mourning of my father’s transition to the other side of the veil.  This day reminds me of the cycle of existence in that we are born, live and then die again.  Which is parallel to the cycle of nature – Spring = Birth and Creation and Fall = Death and the Harvest or gathering in.  Often times we focus on these two events more than the other two aspects of existence which are Summer = Living and Winter = Reflection and Preparation.  Each phase is important and balanced even though it can be hard to see sometimes.

 

The emotions in me today are fluctuating and at times very tearful.  While I miss my dad’s physical presence, I can feel him in my life every day.  Today is the celebration of life and all of its phases.  Since, I believe, there is only physical death, I choose to honor my parents in the two phases of life that are of great importance; their choice to be born and their choice to move on to their next phase.

 

Lately I’ve had this feeling of loneliness and to be honest I haven’t felt lonely in decades.  Even when I’ve traveled by myself, I always felt connected to someone.  I’ve spent the past ten or so months clearing what no longer serves me from my life.  Most of these “things” have been energetic and emotional programming I’ve received over the past 40 plus years.  And some of the clearing has involved unnecessary material things that is now being donated to others in need. Whatever aspect of the clearing, it’s been a necessary step in my evolution as I transition to my next phase of existence.

 

Up ’til now, I’ve been so focused on the clearing that I’ve not spent much time on knowing what to do with the space that I’ve created.  Initially, I was wanting to fill that space with all the things that I “thought” I wanted instead.  But a funny thing happened in that when I started to fill the space again, I became uncomfortable with myself and felt like I was restricting myself back to where I came from.  This just wasn’t going to do.  So I just stopped!  I decided to let that space just be space, to be nothing at all.  What I found is that the less “stuff” I had filling my life, the more peace and wholeness that I felt.  This was going all fine and dandy, until recently this feeling of loneliness has come up.  My only thought on this so far is that it was coming up on the anniversary of my dad’s passing and also the contradiction of feelings on this day of celebration of my mom’s birth.  It’s hard to know where to go with these feelings even though I try to focus on my dad’s life and the great affect he had on me and so many in his life.

 

So, the great contradiction of this day has come and almost gone, but I think the contradiction really lives on in each day.  The contradiction of living life, being creative and expanding your awareness beyond all limitations or focusing on misery, restrictions, gloom and the impending physical death that will come for all of us.  We never know when the Reaper will come calling for us, just as you might think my dad didn’t know.  From the witness accounts of seeing him that day, he was glowing and full of life and happiness.  I choose to believe that, at some deep level, he really knew it was the day of his return Home and the literal glow that people saw was his True Self beginning to expand out from his physical being.  He would never know the pain of the crash as his Self would already be gone, leaving behind a shell of flesh and bone.  He was going Home and that is where I will see him again.

 

Dwight Raatz