Dia de los Muertos
The Day of the Dead
Kathryn Ravenwood as La Calavera Catrina (Dapper Skeleton)
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood
It is Dia de los Muertos – The Day of the Dead. I live in New Mexico and this is a high, holy holiday for sure. For those of you not familiar with this tradition, which comes from Mexico, it is hard to do it justice in a short article. This day is when the Veils between the Worlds are most thin and our Dead are honored. We build altars, or ofrendas, to the dead. Their photos, favorite possessions, food, and drinks are all put out on an altar. Add sugar skulls, mairgolds, Papel picado- which is a Mexican folk art of cut out paper into beautiful designs, and the altars expand into fabulous memorials of the beloved dead. People paint their faces like skulls, wear costumes, march in huge parades, have picnics by grave sites, and generally celebrate their loved ones who have died. It has become my favorite day of the year.
It is more about honoring life than death; a celebration of a person’s life and all they were in this Earth walk. We re-member them by bringing back a physical reminder of the person, making them more tangible for us, even though they are no longer here in body.
Our time on Earth is short. We are here to learn, to celebrate the beauty of Planet Earth, to experience emotions and learn to love and be loved. Each day we are the continuation of our ancestors and their walks before us. We carry their wisdom in our DNA, hold the wisdom passed on by generations of teachers and elders. We are the ones here and now to do all we can to create beauty, love, gratitude. If you listen to the news it is easy to find ourselves in “bad times” with things getting worse hour by hour; all the more reason to take a time out to honor the amazing gift of life given to us.
If you were to create an ofrenda today, you might honor a parent or friend, relative, or even a beloved pet (I have had Day of the Dead just for cats…) and that would be wonderful. Build it high and lavish it with candles and tasty snacks and flowers. But, what if you built an altar to the “you” that has died… the part of you that you mourn. After all, these altars are to celebrate life. Look inside. What really no longer serves you? What needs to die or has already died that is best laid to rest? Traditionally these ofrendas are only for the deceased but I am thinking ceremony to celebrate the passages of our own lives could bring us closure to a relationship that didn’t work out the way we hoped, or to a dream career that died on the vine, or hopes and dreams dashed on the rocky shores of life’s passage.
Take some time to honor those parts of you. Sit with them, have a cup of tea or a glass of wine with that part of you that died however long ago it was. Offer comfort, love, forgiveness, and understanding. Bless the efforts, bless the lessons that seemed too hard but turned into teachers. See the beauty of that part of your life and re-member the broken or cast off pieces of yourself back into the Wholeness of Being that YOU ARE.
Physical death is a transition from this earthly, physical body and life passing back into Spirit and unlimited, eternal being. For the living, death is also a transition, a passage from one day to another, one experience to the next, until we realize our lives are indeed an ofrenda unto themselves. We are the living altar of Spirit. We are the portal where Spirit becomes physical. We are the embodiment of Goddess/God/All That Is in this moment of time.
Tend your altar well. Celebrate and honor your beautiful self and let your Light shine bright and strong and let your heart be filled with love.
…Kathryn Ravenwood November 1, 2017