Death as a Sacred Journey
My partner’s eight year old son asked me why I love this time of year, but don’t particularly love Halloween like I used to.
My response was a lot more simplified and brief for him, but it got me thinking about the different ways this time of year is celebrated and I felt inspired to share some inspirations with you.
The month of November starts out with the thinning of the veils, which is a time to connect with the ancestors. Unfortunately, Halloween has turned the sacred and powerful journey of death and honoring the dead into an exploited and traumatizing focus on violence and sensationalizing the most brutal and tragic of human experiences.
I used to get caught up in it myself. I loved psychological thrillers, but started to realize, as I got older and more aware of consciousness and how it is impacted by stories and images, that feeding this fascination was filling my psyche with things that were clouding what I truly find nourishing and life giving, and it was obscuring the sacred and deep journey of life we are all on.
We do tend to be in a culture that denies death and then, ironically glorifies it in these sensational ways that feel dark and heavy. But there are cultures that know how to honor death, honor the dead, and bring sacredness and beauty to this powerful, unavoidable, and all too often ignored part of the life journey.
Many of us have become disconnected from our traditions of honoring the dead, and we can look in on Dia de los Muertos and other ritual holidays, or even find an honoring way to participate, and we have permission to use these beautiful traditions to inspire our own remembering, revering, and celebrating the passageway from this material world.
Here are some possibilities to consider weaving into your month, especially over the next few days as the veils are thin, and access to the ancestors, and other helpful teachers and guides is more accessible than the rest of the year.
1. Create an Ancestral Altar
Create an altar or special space where you put images or even written names of those who have passed. Add in candles, flowers, and other beautiful offerings that remind you of these relations. You can add drinks (Spirits love spirits), or just water. Smoke (from incense, sage, or a sacred pipe) can bring your thoughts and prayers into the other side of the veil. Take a moment each day to visit this space and acknowledge the role these loved ones held for you. Speak your acknowledgments. Offer songs, or simply a moment of silence and holding their memories in your heart.
2. Create a home for the Ancestors
If you want to keep this special honoring going year round, one of my teachers, Martin Prechtel, told us about ancestral homes. These are very small, home-like altars that are kept outside and are the dimensions of something on your own body (wrist to elbow, wrist to end of middle finger . . . ) so that the home’s measurements represent your physical being, which you inherited from your ancestors. Inside of this “home,” could be some shelves where food, drink, candles, incense, and/or other offerings can be made to continually feed your ancestors and cultivate your relationship with them.
3. Join us for Safe & Sacred gatherings
If you are called to bring more conscious, sacred practice into your daily life to enrich and nourish your spirit and bring deeper meaning into your life, please consider joining us for one or some of our monthly gatherings created to do just that.
Whether you are called to heal with and explore sacred plant medicines, or are attracted to non-altering sacred ceremonies, or simply want to connect with community that is here to support safe and sacred spaces for diverse community to learn, heal, and grow together in fun ways, we are here for you.