Finding Belonging in the Age of Loneliness


It’s Becca Piastrelli here, and I wanted to tell you about a really powerful moment I experienced this past spring when I was in Ireland.

I was standing in a circle of women dressed in white, crowns of ivy on our heads, spirals painted on our faces, when the woman across from me in the circle said the words that reverberated through my ancestral soul.

With a painted drum in her hands and outstretched arms, she proclaimed in her thick Irish lilt that we – all of the women standing in that circle on the Hill of Uisneach, the centermost point in Ireland – were indigenous to that land and that we were reclaiming our right to belong there.

Then she let out a massive howl, which we echoed, and I realized she was looking straight into my eyes.

I, a woman who has only ever known “home” to be a land that my ancestors settled and would never claim to be native to, was being seen as one of this woman’s own.

Tears began streaming down my face as my bleeding womb ached and my knees chattered as if to say, “Can this be true?

Could I be welcomed back to a land my ancestors left over 400 years ago? Could this woman truly feel our collective indigeneity intertwining like the roots of the hawthorn trees surrounding us?

An hour later, our circle of women stood around a great fire, one that had been burned on that hill for thousands of years to mark the beginning of the season of light. As I stared at those flames, I heard that same woman loudly beating her drum on the other side of the fire from me. Her drum beats matched with those of my heart, felt like the deep and powerful “yes” my inner colonizer couldn’t quite fathom. Yes, my roots were indigenous to this place. Yes, I was of this place and these people. And yes, I carry this with me always, even in the car on the way to the grocery store in my suburban California town.

My practice of honoring and connecting to my ancestors first started as a wee curiosity and has bloomed over the years to seasonal rituals and making pilgrimages to the lands my ancestors once walked on (Ireland, Scotland, England, Massachusetts, and Maine, to name a few). 

We all come from a lineage weaving back thousands of years. And in this time of overwhelm and disconnection, I have found that learning about and giving reverence to those who have come before us can provide a deep sense of belonging (and magic!) that helps us keep going in these times.

I have Celtic ancestry, and my ancestors would see this time of year as one where the veils between this world and the otherworld are thinning. The night of Samhain (October 31st and pronounced sow-when) was known as The Great Hunt – when the portal to the otherworld would open and land spirits, fairies, and ancestral beings would fly around making mischief. My ancestors would leave out sweet foods to appease these hungry spirits and would even carve faces into foods to try to trick them into believing other spirits were already there (a little trick and a little treat, if you catch my meaning). 

On Tuesday, October 30th (the eve of the Great Hunt), I am so excited to be traveling to Hawthorn Farm in Medfield, MA, to host a workshop with Sarah called Night of the Ancestors

We will gather together, dress in black, and bring an ancestral item to lay on the altar (this may be a symbol of your heritage like a traditional food, a rock from your land, a photo of an ancestor, or an item that was passed down to you).

I will share more folklore about this time of year, hold a ritual, and explore how ancestral work can deepen our spiritual practice and help us experience that feeling of belonging (to each other, to ourselves, and to the Earth) in this age of loneliness.

It’s at 7:30pm, and you can join in person at Hawthorn Farm in Medfield, MA, or via livestream. To sign up, click here.

Sarah and I would love to see you there!

With autumn blessings,

Becca Piastrelli

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