Into the Mystic: Day of the Dead
Bonnie Baranski for local2 sault ste. marie
October 31st, 2011 at 9:23am
There are many beliefs around Halloween that are based in ancient traditions. I have been a guest in a Day of the Dead (El Dia de Los Muertos) ceremony for the ancestors in the Latino tradition, from Oct. 31, all night til Nov. 1. It was very beautiful.
As someone of another culture, not raised with these customs, it was very intimidating at first. When I saw the skeletons and candies and little dolls and colourful flowers, plates of food, favorite drinks, it was very unusual to absorb.
I was full of questions, which my hostess answered fully, so that I could participate in the ceremony. I had brought my own additions to the altar, as many of my family dwells in the Spirit world.
The Day of the Dead, El Dia de Los Muertes, is not a sad time contrary to what I thought.
The Feast is a celebration, a connection and remembrance to the ancestors, and loved ones who are in the Spirit World.
The hosts present their loved ones' favorite dishes, they have their favorite drinks available, and they also have pictures of their loved ones who are gone. The family makes an altar. It can be on a table or fireplace mantle, anything that is flat enough and big enough to be a focal point. The colours used are all very bright, reds, pinks, oranges, the candles come in all the colours, as do the flowers. They are draped around the altar and around the pictures. The scent is beautiful. There is also incense burning. The belief is that the more beautiful and welcoming it is, the Spirits of those gone will be enticed to visit. There are images of death on the altar also: skulls are prominent. Sugar skulls with red eyes look out at you. Skeletons dance in the breeze.
For someone who is not used to this, it is very different but very beautiful, and the family is happy to be spending time with their loved ones. Stories are told about the departed, favorite foods are eaten, tea, coffee, pop, whatever the departed liked, is consumed in their memory. It is very happy, as each story and food prompts another remembrance, and is talked about. It can go on late into the night and many believers stay up all night on the day of the dead. It is a powerful, Spiritual time.
In some cultures, the whole village forms a parade out to the cemetery, and literally feasts and remembers their families at the grave site. I have only seen pictures of this, as when I celebrated it was in a home celebration, however, it is a custom I think, very powerful and loving, to visit your deceased family members.
We have different ideas and customs around death. It was very enjoyable for me to participate, and I have made it part of my own celebration of Halloween. I like the idea of a visit. It is said the veil grows very thin on Halloween, between the Spirit world and ours. Make of that what you wish.
Our card this week is From the Golden Tarot: the Lovers card.
This card is from the major arcana, and has a myriad of meanings.
It can mean the querant's love relationship, physical love, it can mean being involved in something you love. It is a reference to Gemini because of the number six, and that is the twins. So it can mean both sides of situation, or something being mirrored to you, or reflected back to you.
This card is often misunderstood, and given a shallow explanation, but it is actually a very deep and mindful card. If you notice, there is an angel representing Spiritual Love, and also a dog, representing unconditional love. So, depending on where it shows in the reading, it has many facets.
Love is a powerful emotion, and represented beautifully in this card.