By Sheyna Haisman-Holmes
It’s the end of October! There are many deep themes bubbling up in our society and culture at this time. This time of year beholds so much symbolism on cycles, death and the ancestors. In American culture, October is often celebrated as a spooky time of year with costumes, eating candies and scary decorations & movies during Halloween. Although we are accustomed to these traditions and there’s nothing wrong with being festive, there is a deeper significance to this time of year and we may be asking ourselves how we can honor it in a more connected way.
There are multiple celebrations for this time of year throughout the world. In Celtic traditions, Samhain is the main holiday where people convened with the spirit realm and celebrated the last harvest. In Hindu traditions, Diwali is celebrated as the Festival of Light, remembering that light reigns over darkness. In Cambodia, Pchum Ben is a festival to feed the ancestors of the last seven generations. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead is a day to celebrate the ancestors and call them back to be with us. There are common threads throughout these cultural celebrations that use candles, feasts, rituals, fire, flowers, fruits, costumes and sweet treats.
It is said that the spirit world is more accessible to us at this time and we can connect with ancestors and those who have crossed over. This time can bring up grief in remembering those who are gone, and there are so many ways to beautifully celebrate them. The traditional ways of honoring this time have been lost in translation with how death is poorly integrated in mainstream culture. This is not just death of our friends and family, but of the greenery around us and a loss of the summer sun. There can be grief in these liminal moments of transition as the colors and sounds of the wild change. Allowing the descent of this season takes a surrendering to death, as we are always in a cycle of death and rebirth.
As we go within, we can do so with purpose and light. We all have an intuition that’s unique to each of us about what we are okay to be exposed to and take in through our senses. Have you ever watched a scary movie with some friends that you weren’t sure you wanted to see and later regretted it? There may be a lasting feeling of dread or fear that doesn’t align with you. This brings on the concept of Asatmendriyartha Samyoga, which is a disrespecting or misuse of the senses. This may be standing next to a speaker at a concert that is too loud, keeping the lights on until 1am, or looking at a screen for too many hours in a day. It is allowing something to overwhelm or seep into our senses that our intuition doesn’t consent to that can throw us off. Asatmendriyartha Samyoga is one of the three main causes of disease in Ayurveda. The other two are: Prajnāparadha (misuse of the intellect) and Parinama or Kala (misuse of time). These three causes are present constantly in our daily lives and our goal is to integrate more sattva (purity). Asatmendriyartha Samyoga can be more present during this time of Halloween where there are lots of stimuli that lean towards a creepy or scary theme. Staying in tune with our intuition is key as we navigate this time, protecting our peace and only allowing into our senses what feels good, which is different for everyone.
So how can we honor this time in a deeper way? We are the physical manifestation of all the people who came before us, so we can honor them and our lives by taking good care of ourselves. We can ask ourselves: what will our daily practices be during this decent into winter? What beautiful foods can we eat to keep our immunity strong? What can we do to keep our minds healthy? We can celebrate this time by lighting candles and making an altar of marigolds, seasonal flowers and foods. We can put out pictures of our ancestors to honor their lives and let them know that we still remember them. We can cook foods that our ancestors ate and share it with our friends and families and leave some on their altars. We can lean into the idea that the spirit world is more active and convene with the spirits and fairies however we are guided. We can take a hike in the beautiful forests and fall time leaves, experiencing the Earthly changes that are also present in our culture and our bodies. We can light a fire at night to stay warm and remember that it’s what all of our ancestors did. We can bake nourishing squashes and peel pomegranates, working with the foods of this fall harvest. We can weave the festivities of our culture with the invitation to go deeper into the cycles of the Earth and deeper within ourselves & our traditions.
Blessings & Happy Halloween / Samhain / Diwali / Pchum Ben / Dia de los Muertos 🙂