In the Mexican traditions and celebration of our ancestors it is said death occurs three times, the first as a physical death when our hearts cease to beat and space we occupy loses meaning. The second, a symbolic death, when our bodies are consecrated, lowered into the ground and returned to the earth. Third, a final death were we cease to exist in the memories of the living.
This is our day, approx halfway between our harvest fall equinox and the winter solstice, where the veil is the thinnest, to honor our ancestors, our guides and the spirits who live and breathe in our hearts. I am grateful for all souls, all saints, all of our great and glorious dead whose lives made this moment possible. Every ancestor who fought for their voice, for a way of life, baring the scars of these efforts supporting our life and our dreams. Today we get to remember them, we get to grow in their hearts and we get to connect and build bridges to create connected pathways. How are you honoring your ancestors? Mine were immigrants and lovers and fighters and all around charming folks who loved to laugh, who didn't understand everything, who worked and taught and made the most of their opps, doing their best to raise families and create loving community.
A little history on these Dias de Los Muertos - it originated in Mexico, before the Spanish conquest. The exact date is unknown but it has been speculated that the idea originated with the Olmecs, possibly as long as 3000 years ago. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Festive and colorful, it serves more as a celebration honoring our loved ones in the way we remembered them while they were alive. This is a time to bring photographs, garments, favorite foods, or other symbolic reminders of your loved one. El Dia de los Muertos also has another dimension, that of honoring our "collective dead," those people, often nameless and invisible, who have departed for reasons of social injustice -poverty, war violence. We must celebrate and honor the dead by loving the living, and loving the living means working for an end to war and poverty by creating peace and connection and remembering we are all apart of the human heart, in some cases this means fighting for healthcare reform, in others humane immigration reform, health and wellness for our communities and neighborhoods and working for full inclusion in our worlds.
The ceremony can be summed up simply.... We must heed the call to "love one another and care for one another as Christ loves us."
Every year, in ceremony, honoring our ancestors, in community, we share beautiful readings, heart felt prayers and connnect. This poem is one of my favs, from Message in Colors by Julie Sopetran a Poem found in Mexico City, Mixquic & Morelos- Through the Eyes of the Soul, Day of the Dead in Mexico
Lit candles. Faces. Memories and an entrance that's a rainbow: protection for the place of rest and meditation. Necklaces. Cempasuchitl, pre-Hispanic links, songs, paper medals, flames talking to the wind the diverse language departed. It is the prime time of the celebration or death's thread, threaded through time's needle. It is the decomposition of matter, transformed into art. It is the final curtain awaken from death in Ocotepec. Yes. An eternal dream of uncorrupt flowers and of gibberish. It is death's lament, fading away and it is also the respect made a tribute.
Who could have imagined so much beauty on a tomb? Mole. Glass of water. Incense. Salt. Prayers. Firecrackers. Fruits. Bread. Music. Corridos. Bolas. Romantic songs. History, praised. Creativity, expressed in its most raw form ... And it is the color purple, elegies in white, blue, pink. It is a blow from grace so heightened as artificial fire that reveals the soul's presence in the darkness. Something like the flowering of martyrdom in flames. An arrangement for the end or the posthumous splendor. In Morelos everything is possible - gloom battles with life and it's victor, it is once again for a little while, happiness, ludic tradition which overcomes reality. It was before these ornate grave-sites when I knew that in Ocotepec, as in my heart, those that have departed return every year to remind us of their love. And that only LOVE can save us.
Una vela encendida. Una cara. Un recuerdo y un port6n arco iris: protecci6n del remanso. Collares. Cempasuchiles, cadenas pre hispanicas, canciones. Medallas de papel, llamas hablando al viento el diverso lenguaje fallecido. Es la hora suprema de la celebracion
o el hilo de la muerte, enhebrado en la aguja del tiempo. Es la descomposici6n de la materia, transformada en arte. Es la postrimeria resucitada en Ocotepec. Si. Un suefio etemo de flores incorruptas y de algarabias. Es el lamento de la muerte desvanecido y es tambien el respeto hecho ofrenda.
l, Quien podria imaginar tanta belleza en una tumba? El mole. El vaso de agua. El copal. La sal. Las oraciones. Los cohetes. La fruta. El pan. La musica. Los corridos. Las bolas. Los romances. La historia enaltecida. La creatividad expresada en lo mas descarnado ... Y es el morado, elegias en blanco, azul y rosa. Es un golpe de gracia tan elevado como un fuego artificial que expresa la presencia del alma en la oscuridad. Algo asi como el martirio en llamas florecido. Un arreglo para el finado o la exquisitez p6stuma de lo que uno piensa que es el mas alla; colores. En Morelos todo es posible - lo filnebre se reconcilia con la vida y vence, vuelve a ser por un rato, alegria, costumbre ludica que supera Ia realidad. Fue ante estas sepulturas adornadas, cuando supe, que en Ocotepec, como en mi coraz6n, los difuntos regresan cada afio, a repetimos que nos aman. Y que solo el AMOR puede salvarnos.
May the power of love enable us to come to terms with things in life we cannot understand, that we may grow more tender, more courageous, more purposeful as we love and care for each other and remember when we return to love we unite with all that is.
In the ceremony and in my heart in this time of celebration for those who have passed over in ceremony we offer the names of departed loved ones. With and after each name is said aloud, we say
And on and on until all are spoken into our hearts, here and the other;
Tears and love flow as all are remembered.
If it speaks to your heart - say their name and know they are present.
May you find comfort in remembering. May you find peace in celebrating. May your memories be sweet and may all our spirits be enriched and nourished as we move forward creating a world of peace and love.
Today is my Dad's bday 11/1.
Here he is pictured with his Mother, my Grandmother, Thelma.
Feel free to add your loved ones name and picture here in remembrance. We honor those who have come before us, those who have passed over, those we hold in our hearts so dearly and with tenderness and a light that connects us to their spirits and our love, shared and otherwise, with the grace of being.
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