It’s Halloween, or Samhain (please, say “sow-in”- that’s how it’s pronounced in the original Gaelic), and it marks the end of the year for pagans.
I haven’t danced much this year in the new house, I realized today as I was struck by a song on the radio and stood there, still and calm. It was “Breathe (2 AM)” by Anna Nalick and I closed my eyes as I listened. The sun came out and I turned towards it and felt the heat on my face and how it looks like your eye lids are all lit up when the sun comes through them while your eyes are closed. I was not dancing, but it was magic nonetheless.
When the song was done, I went to meditate. I lit the candles and got the sage smoking (that’s not a euphemism) and prayed to my ancestors. Both sets of great grandparents, now long dead. My Papa, who died a few years ago, but it still feels like I saw him last week. And to a newly dead great uncle- a very loving man who raised very loving sons and made the world a better place with his smile and corny jokes. The veil being thin this time of year, I thanked them for how their lives brought me forth and for the ways in which their spirits guide me every day.
I thought about the year past. Mostly it was difficult things I thought of. How I felt ridiculous and immature and incapable and not ready for so many things that happened. But also how I felt glad that I’d taken risks and been stupid and learned things about myself and my life and what I want to be and become.
That is probably what I like best about this ‘end of year’ versus the traditional New Year’s Eve: we recognize and celebrate the darkness in ourselves. We let it out to play. The part of us that might murder, the vengeful place inside our hearts, the seductress, the cruel one, the clown, the dead parts of ourselves- they all come out as Halloween costumes and we celebrate them. We reward them with candy, even! I think it’s incredibly valuable to recognize these parts of ourselves during this celebration and love them up, because magic doesn’t come from being good, it comes from being whole.
So, I sat at my altar and felt all the things: how feeling ridiculous is exactly like when I hit my funny bone in my elbow, but spread throughout my whole body. How I’d given bits of myself away and began calling them back. How it felt to remember things from long ago- painful things- and letting my heart hurt again. Regret. Regret sits like a mask atop my eyes but also drops down into my heart. I’m glad to have regret instead of wondering, even if it does feel like a weight. The various other feelings that needed space to be recognized and felt stopped by, too. It was sort of an ego death* parade.
I also took a few moments to send good wishes to those who had helped me in some way this past year- helped me learn, grow, understand. Even those who helped me feel regret or ridiculous- because they helped me know myself better.
And then I asked my ancestors to speak to me. The veil between the worlds is thin today and the next few days, so I believe their energy and messages come through to us living folks more easily, if we are open to them.
After it was all done, I took a very long, very hot shower. Not as a means of cleansing, but as a way of stewing in all of those things I felt. Today isn’t the day for getting all pretty and clean and free- it’s the day to recognize how dirty and broken and deliciously fucked up we are, and celebrate it anyway.
It turned out that the song I listened to was exactly right for today. “Just breathe,” she sings. Whatever comes, we accept it. And we breathe. Today I let all the ugly come up, watched the year march through me, and accepted all of it. Tonight I will celebrate it.
Much love to you, fellow travelers. I hope your Halloween is full of fright and fun- and I hope you get to be yourself, your whole self.
Joanna :: xoxo
* Ego death is not what Jason Silva talks about on Facebook. Ego death is when we realize that something we’ve been attached to or believed strongly in (usually something that defines us) is either not true (as in, it’s actually a lie) or is no longer true for us. Examples:
- I am a good person.
- My marriage is safe.
- There is a heaven.
- I can have what I want.
- I’m not broken.
- I have a long life ahead of me.
- God is only masculine.
- If I am good, I will get what I want.
When we have an ego death, it’s a usually a horrible surprise: something we didn’t expect to be true, is. And it shocks us into a new reality. A reality where what we wanted or needed to believe is clearly no longer true. The part of our ego that was attached to that, that really, really wanted it to be true, has to die in that moment of understanding. So, ego death is the shock that opens us up to greater truth (even, probably especially, when we don’t like it or want it). It’s an incredibly valuable process. It’s better to seek it out than avoid it, if you ask me.