The Queer Mysteries: Samhain – Elderhood

An end comes to all things. The ecstasy of youth is distilled and refined and passed on to the next generation and, if we are fortunate, we step into the final Mysteries of Elderhood and, eventually, of Death, that final ecstasy, to begin again. Having cultivated the Mysteries of Pride and community, of Family, of Mentorship, it is time to receive the caring and nourishment that we have sown, and particularly time for the community to give back to its elders in equal measure.

If recognizing the Mystery of Mentorship is a challenge for the queer community, then honoring the Mystery of Elderhood is even more so; our elders too often find themselves forgotten and ignored by a community caught up in the Mysteries of Coming Out, Ecstasy, and Pride, not recognizing how the contributions of those before them helped to make those things possible. Honoring our Queer Ancestors at this turning of the Wheel is only the first step in recognizing and honoring our livingelders while they remain with us.

This is another reason for the creation of queer (and queer-friendly) sacred spaces and communities: The relationship that begins with mentorship can then become reciprocal, offering elders care, community, visibility, and purpose in return for their experience and guidance. This care from community may be the only sort that queer elders receive, as they may not have children, and may well be estranged from other, younger, family members. Likewise, when elders have passed beyond the veil, the only reverence they receive as ancestors may come from their queer “descendants” who remember them. In the Temple of Witchcraft’s Queer Spirit rituals, we regularly call upon our ancestors with the invocation: “Ancestors of Queer Spirit, you who walked the path before us, you who smoothed and eased the way for us, may we follow in your footsteps to ease the way for those who will come after us. You who stand in shadow at the edge of our circle, be welcome at the light of our fire in love and respect.”

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