It was the Celtic civilization that first celebrated the magical time of year that is Halloween. They considered this time, the Samhain, as the most significant turning point of the year, when things change most deeply, when connections to the dead open up… The souls that have gone through the ultimate turning from life to death. They believed that this was the time of year that the world of the living and the world of the dead were closest and that the spirits and ghosts of the dead travelled amongst the living. This conception of the closing gap between life and death in still widely celebrated in the Mexican Dia de los Muertos and even in the Christian All Saints Day. Taking this opportunity to celebrate the dead among us, to acknowledge the ghosts that remain behind and to befriend the demons that we embody are powerful and redemptive acts of love, both for the living and the dead, as what remains in hidden steals immense power from our living intentions.
“We stopped looking for demons under the bed when we realized they were inside of us.” -Anonymous
If the opposite of love is truly fear as many suggest, than the opposite of life is perhaps not death, but rather, a life ruled by our inner demons, who plant seeds of distrust, anxiety and unworthiness at every opportunity. We cannot live our true lives when our inner demons control us, particularly without even our recognition of them. These demons are so familiar to our inner ear, that they are disguised as us. The goal is to not run these little monsters out, for this is an impossible task, but rather see them, notice their calls and cackles with the same tenderness you would those of a frightened child. Calm them down and put them down to nap with a promise you will check in on them. Or if you cannot, how about dress up like your most terrifying demon and then, when you take off the mask, witness the depth and beauty of who you really are.
“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” -Charles Dickens
We are all haunted by something or someone- usually around our unfinished business. The invisible that pulls at us are relational, and our unattended feelings are weighty and long-lasting. Bringing both intention and attention to the people who have mattered in our past and the people who surround us now is not only respectful, but guarantees that the spirits haunting you will be beneficent. Even more than on earth, the ghosts of the deceased long for a peaceful parting, and we, the living, with willingness to forgive, are the only ones who can release the ties that hold them to their tragic pasts. So, take this holiday and decide how you want to relate, what you want to carry with you and what ghosts you can set free with love and kindness. Acknowledging your ghosts is healing for both of you.
“We never bury the dead, we take them with us. It is the price of living…”
A bereaved parent once told me that you never get used to the death of your child; rather, it is like a stone that you carry in your pocket always, and you adjust to the weight of it over time. Some days, the weight of it lightens imperceptibly and then you feel them near you, nearer, in fact, than if they were standing right next to you. This has also been my experience with death this last year and it makes me certain that we actually live two lives- the one of waking reality and the one of being carried by those after you have gone. Some would say that we become more potent and, in some ways, even more present in our second life, when the essence of our souls boil down and settle into the hearts of those we’ve loved.
So today, live a hallowed eve, with all of the consecrated and devoted hearts of the saints and ghosts surrounding us. Let your little demons out for some air and light and then put them to rest. Celebrate the death you will have one day by becoming your best self, for this is truly what you will leave behind.