Days of the Dead. Nights of the Living.

The last jack-o-lantern Josh carved. The squirrels nibbled away at its eye.

The last jack-o-lantern Josh carved. The squirrels nibbled away at its eye.

Some of you with departed loved ones, and most of us are, may be noticing in the past week or so that those who have 'moved beyond' have decided to make an appearance recently in your living days. You may have seen them in your dreams, or caught them in your thoughts, or in a song that comes on the radio, on a bumper sticker that reminds you of something they once said...

Is that you? if so, Bravo. You've got this. 

At this time of year, not long after the clocks go back and towards the very end of October and during early November, the veil becomes thinner. Much thinner. The heavy blood burgundy coloured velvet curtain is lifted and: It's Showtime for the Dead! At least, that's what our customs and traditions have us likely to believe.

But isn't it true? Can you feel that as the days get darker, the nights grow longer, the air cooler that there is a definitive shift? A noisy altercation in the crunchy, dry leaves that encourages us to turn inward. To go inside, literally and figuratively, to explore our inner landscape, the warmth within. To get out of the cold and come together, to find a source of heat, to kindle the fire, to stare into its glow, to feed the soul.  To illuminate our inner dwellings with  candles and bathe in their radiance, mesmerised by the interrupted dance of their flicker.  

Something on the Air

I often catch myself sniffing into the wind like a wild wolf as a gust of autumn passes over me. It's saying something, whispering from the other world about the stillness found within. I think it's a culmination of this beautifully tender cyclical seasonal change that prepares and delivers us to the sensitive state where we are perceptive enough to feel our loved ones, in their altered shape and form, arriving for the party, inviting us to take part in the show.

I especially feel close to the Mexican interpretation of this, known as  Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. It is custom to camp out at the gravesite and in cemeteries, sometimes even overnight, bringing food, and sweets and other offerings to the dead, decorating their tombstone with flowers, garlands, sugar skulls and crosses.  In other words: celebrating dead people. In particular, I love the 'calaca' (skeleton in Mexican Spanish) figure who is dressed in his/her fanciest clothes and is a rather jolly, fun loving character, always smiling and warm, and playful , having a good time.  The calacas play instruments and get the party started. For what kind of party is there if there is no music for dancing? Mexicans believe that every soul should be remembered as a happy one. And death should be a moment filled with joy.  

If you have been feeling rather close to your departed, or that they are closer than ever, it's because they are.  Trust that feeling. They have come for a really cool gathering and bring with them a with a message: Don't be scared. Join the party! They have come to remind us that life is for living. 

So have a blast, kick off your shoes and dance the nights away!

Happy Halloween! Happy Day of the Dead!


Sugar Skull images from Adventures in Making