Wikipedia mentions that this is the “time in the year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and faithful departed believers.” It is also a time for guising (dressing up in costumes and “disguising”), parties and “visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films.”
This festival and its modern day incarnations intrigue me. It has its roots, of course, in harvest festivals. It reminds me to pay attention to celebrate the harvest but also a time to thank the earth and let her rest for the winter. It is a time to let things pass. As the winter nights lengthen, it is a time to remember the grace and gifts of people and things that have passed as well.
And in its modern incarnation, it also feels like an invitation to become intimate with things that scare us. We can use this occasion to make light of things that scare us, but for me it is also a reminder to befriend the dark and the “ugly” and invite a dance with the discomfort. I have learned to not turn away from the skeleton decorations hanging in my neighbors yard… If I look at them enough, I can begin to appreciate that this is simply showing me one of the truths of my life – that bones are simply the framework on which I hang my outer self. Not something to turn away from too quickly. This celebration of death is as natural as celebrating life… both seem to be the nature of things.
One of the most beautiful evenings I remember is being in India and lighting some candles on a lovely breezy evening at my father-in-law’s grave on All Souls Day. Other graves were also lit up with love and the care of loved ones. The sky was filled with incredible colors and there was a softness and tenderness to the moments I spent in silent remembrance. I learned that day that there is a way to be with passing that can be graceful and beautiful.
So on this Halloween, the invitation is to pause for a moment. And allow an acknowledgement for being with the passing of seasons, the passing of souls and the passing on another year in our life. And feeling into the gifts and the preciousness of that which has passed.
Happy and safe Halloween!