Yesterday was Halloween, a vastly misunderstood spiritual holiday that has been bastardized by marketing mavens and turned into a secular holiday that has little to do with its sweet spiritual origins. In earth-based spiritual traditions, Halloween was honored as new year’s eve, the time to honor your ancestors and to align yourself with wisdom from the spiritual realm. On Halloween (All Hallow’s Evening or All Holy Evening), the veil between the two worlds (temporal and spiritual) is the thinnest. In the purest sense, it is a time of introspection and communion with All That Is. It is a time to make yourself right with the Divine and with the spirits of your loved ones who have made their transition.
In the Christian tradition, today is All Saints Day (November 1) and tomorrow is All Souls Day (November 2), a time to honor all saints and souls that have passed away.
In Mexico, parts of the US Southwest and Central America, it is a time for people to honor their ancestors in Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Rather than looking on death as the end, these people honor the ongoing spiritual life of the dead with flowers and food. Dia de los Muertos celebrations extend from October 31 to November 2.
I had a session yesterday with my spiritual director, as part of the spiritual director’s training program I’m enrolled in. Spiritual direction is like a working with a coach who is concerned about your spiritual journey. I should have known that a session on such a holy day would be significant. Throughout the session, I cried as if I couldn’t stop and communicated often with my deceased mother, who I could hear as if she was in the room with me. I was so wrung out after the session that I went to bed for most of the remaining afternoon. I realize now that I experienced something deeply holy in that spiritual direction session, a communion with my Mother and with God. My experience was catalyzed by the power of the day, All Hallows (All Holy) Eve. Duh! - in retrospect, I should not have been surprised or confused by my experience.
How might you observe this powerful holiday time, when the veil between the spiritual and temporal world is the thinnest? It’s not too late - All Saints Day and All Souls Day span the rest of the weekend! Here are a few suggestions to enjoy the sweetness of this holy time:
- Bow in gratitude to those who have come before us. If you can do nothing else today, take a moment and simply bow, with your palms together in front of your heart, to the miracle of life and death and to those who have preceded us.
- Light a candle. The act of lighting a candle for your deceased love ones, or for all decreased souls, is a simple acknowledgement of the light and love that is always stronger than darkness and hatred.
- Build an altar. Many people enjoy building an altar at this time of the year. You might place a picture of your departed loved one on it, next to a cross or other symbol of your faith. Flowers make it lovely. It can be simple or ornate. Build an altar that makes you smile and feel happy.
- Set aside time for a special prayer or meditation time. Make time for a special meditation or prayer session in which you quiet yourself and listen. See if you can hear God’s message for you, either directly or through the voice of a deceased love one. Express your gratitude for the life of your loved one. This is a good time to forgive or apologize to that deceased one, to make things right with them. Do not underestimate the power of soul-to-soul communication.
- Visit a loved one’s grave site. Bring flowers to honor that person. Take time to be quiet and speak to your loved one. Notice anything you sense, whether it is physically, mentally or audibly. The dead communicate with us through any means at a spiritual being’s disposal: they might send you a soft breeze, an inner knowing, a tingle or feeling of warmth, or words that you sense or hear. Be aware, notice and honor whatever comes to you.
Blessings to you!