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Monday, November 9th, 2009

Day of the Undead

Day of the Undead: musings on Dia de los Muertos

ElRegaloBigOctober's shadowy holiday, Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), has recently come and gone. Recently visited by shades of all sizes, I'm left musing on what we have to learn from those who've gone to their graves before us, and those who are waiting for an invitation to rise.

All Soul's Eve and the Day of the Dead are the kissing cousins of the holiday known as Halloween. Dressing in costume and hoarding candy is a bit of a mutation from the original point of the holiday, which was to remember and honor the dead and our ancestors, without whom we wouldn't be here.

Along with solemnity and honoring, these traditional holidays always include color, music, food, humour and celebration.  Death need not always be solely a sad thing, but can also be a reminder of life; death as a continuation of life.

Speaking (highly) of the dead, my father passed away a year ago, almost to the day. He's recently taken to visiting in my dreams, speaking (highly) as the dead, not uncommon I'm told.

The last dream of a few nights ago, he came smiling, telling me of all the perks of his new after-death faculty position.  "It's great, he tell me.  Each day in my in-box is a new goodie:  an invitation to a special lunch, a request for me to teach a class, a thank you for all I've contributed, a gift certificate, a thoughtful gift."

I watch him, full of life and joy and am delighted as I listen, and then I feel sad.  "I wish I had an in-box like that.  I wish to be appreciated, recognized and supported in those ways."

He cocks his head and says,  "Oh, you have a box, too.  I saw it.  It's quite full, actually, since you haven't looked at it in a while.  You just have to go look."

In two courses I'm teaching, we're on to a section of material in the realm of the sensual and erotic, in which we must embrace head-on the paradoxical and oxymoronic.  In unlocking our Erotic Blueprints, as I call our themes of erotic connection, we can't but look directly at our Shadow; Eros and Shadow usually have a lot to say to each other, when officially introduced.

Using the term Shadow in the Jungian sense, it refers to an area of our beings where we toss all of the parts of ourselves we deem unfit for public consumption.  Our Shadow is the trash heap or communal grave of our psyche, where we've tossed those parts of ourselves we once learned that, if let roam free, might bring upon us shame, ridicule, embarrassment and pain.

Humans contain both light and shadow.  The paradox is that the more we ignore our Shadow, the darker it becomes.  And the further paradox is that when we open up the coffin grave we sealed so tightly with grim devotion, we find unexpected gifts from looking at the seemingly un-see-able. When we can go into wounded places and put light on them, when we stop spending energy on hiding, holding back and lying, when our undead, lost Shadow parts can be included in our life, so much creative, congruent vital energy becomes available to us.

Ancestors and lost parts of our selves: they literally gave and give us life, and their choices got us here today.  We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, so it can be a powerful thing, this once a year, to look down, and to look back at them in thanks.  Our bones are made strong by their lives, and their blood runs into ours via the river of familial connection.

Although our parents, grandparents, Shadows and ancestors may have had some heavy, complicated stories, and what they handed down to us might not have been all easy and sweet, what remains true is the elemental Love and the Life that flows from them to us, in one direction, always.

To tap into that is an honoring.  To open up to receive it is a nourishment and a blessing.

As the days get darker, may we unlock the boxes to our Shadowy selves, may we unveil the many shades of our past, and may we pay homage to the lost, the dead and the undead, since they in turn have so much illumination to lay at our feet.

(Photo "El Regalo" – The Gift – from http://diadelosmuertos.us/)

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Posted by LiYana at 10:34 pm

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