At this time of year when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and the days are getting shorter, we get a lot of stories about Ghosts, Demons, Zombies and other dark characters. This is when our society celebrates Halloween by handing out candy to young trick or treaters, watching scary movies or dressing up in costumes and going out on the town. But where do these concepts and rituals originate?
Halloween, the Day of the Dead, Samhain and Hallowed Eve all came together on October 31st when ancient Pagan and Christian customs were merged. Halloween or “Hallowed Eve” is linked to the Celtic festival Samhain, when the door to the Otherworld was believed to be opened so that the souls of the dead could enter this world. This time of year was also influenced by All Saints’ Day, a Christian event which honors saints and the recently departed. The Day of the Dead can be traced back 3000 years to indigenous cultures in Mexico, who had rituals honoring their dead ancestors. The festival originally occurred in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar and lasted for the entire month. The Romans also did ritual offerings at this time of year. They sacrificed an animal to give back their gratitude to the Earth for a bountiful harvest.
The handing out of treats was a way to appease the dead souls who walked the Earth. It was to protect the living. Over the years, treats were also a way to prevent vandalism.It's intriguing to observe the characters that people choose to portray on Halloween. Besides the fact that many follow the mainstream fads, the choices we make can say a lot about us, what we are living and exploring.
This year, Zombies are a big theme. It seems to be saying… “Humans are like Zombies, the walking dead with no souls”. How much truth is there in that… and in the characters we portray at Halloween, whether it be Zombies, Ghosts, Demons or Angels?
In Shamanism and on the Medicine Wheel, the Raven gateway to the Dreaming is about Ghosts and the “In-between”, the space between this life and the afterlife. It is where a part of us goes when we die, if we have unfinished business.
When I had a serious illness many years ago, I realized was that I wasn’t ready to die, I still had a lot of work to do. When I recovered, I went looking for answers, for healing and spiritual guidance. I knew that the most important thing in life was to be ready to die in a good way, to finish my Wheels and heal my unresolved issues. If I had died I would have gone to the In-between to finish my business on Earth. It is best if we do that work while we are alive so we can move on after we leave our bodies.
The TV show Ghost Whisperer is a good example of lost souls looking for guidance, healing or to contact those they left behind. The main character Melinda can see the dead. She helps countless souls who are trapped, lost, confused, scared or have unresolve from their life on earth.
But we also have Ghosts in us while we are still alive. We carry our past lives, wounded parts of us from this life, our inner community or fragments that are looking to grow and heal. Whatever the source of our unresolve, we can look at it and do the work to bring healing to our stories and relationships.
Fortunately, the Medicine Wheel brings us the tools to do this. I have seen many people, myself included, come to this path thinking we have done our healing work only to find that Shamanism and the Wheel takes us to much deeper levels of our Soul. It penetrates down to the bone, to our very cells. Our DNA stores the stories of all that we and our ancestors ever lived. Unresolve can manifest in the form of nightmares of guilt, jealousy, shame and regret. It can be dysfunctional anger, lingering resentment, irrational fear and so on….
The Peacekeeper Wind this month is asking us to look at our inner conflicts as well as the outer ones and seek the solutions needed to bring us to a place of peace and resolution.
At the Moonlodge on the Saturday before Halloween, the topic of death was brought up. The Moon of Affirmation is asking us to consider our mortality and affirm our wholeness, while doing the work on those parts of us that are still lurking in the shadows.
The Earth and the Shaman are hurting from too much unresolve on the planet. They are the ones who have to carry the burden if people don’t. Denial, resistance, avoiding, projecting, blaming… these are all ego defenses that come up when we are faced with issues that we don’t want to look at or deal with. We are programmed by our society to always want to be in the light, to pursue superficial goals and be “nice”. But humans are creatures of both light and dark. Hallowed Eve, the Night of the Dead, All Souls Eve… whatever you want to call it, is a time to look at our dark side and do something with it.
At our Moonlodge, I asked the Women to dress up as a character in their inner community and bring a story of their character. One woman said she was dealing with duality, light and dark. She judged the dark and yet was in the dark a lot and wanted to be balanced in it. In Shamanism, we follow Nature’s laws. Day and Night exist and both need to be honored and accepted.
We also did “I AM” affirmations and discovered that we can use all the positive statements we want, but we need to be aware and honest about the negatives (fears, doubt, mistrust, etc) that come up. If we just try to stay in the light all the time, the darkness is pushed down into our bodies, our subconscious. We can create imbalances that can lead to illness or injury. We will always have ghosts that we carry around, ghosts of the past are waiting for us to do the healing so we can integrated them, heal them and become whole and balanced creatures.
This thinning of the veils continues until the beginning of December. There is a lot going on at this time of year as we descend into darkness, combined with the Earth shifts and other 2012 phenomena. The earthquake on the West Coast of Canada and Tropical storm Sandy hitting the west coast of North America is Nature’s way of sending us a wake-up call. We are a part of nature. Healing ourselves will help to heal the Earth.