Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Jaime Gironés, author of the new Llewellyn’s Little Book of the Day of the Dead.
Many people around the world celebrate their ancestors during Autumn. Some Pagans who celebrate Samhain on October 31st, a time when the veil between the worlds is thinner, use this time to honor those who have passed away. In Mexico, and other countries of Latin America and wherever there are Latino populations, the Day of Dead is celebrated around November 1st and 2nd. There are other celebrations for the dead and the ancestors in other parts of the world around this time of the year, like the dušičky (“little souls”) in the Czech Republic.
During this time of the year, nature around us is preparing for winter and starting to decay, releasing scents that trigger our memory. While the Earth is tilting, the light changes. We perceive the light as softer and golden, and the shadows longer. While the light and the shadows change, our perspective and consciousness change as well. We are more pensive and nostalgic, we think of our past and our future to come, and how these are intertwined with our present. We think of those who are gone and those who are yet to come, and of us in the middle.
We remember and honor our ancestors at this time, as the harvest would not have been possible without their blessing. We think about our ancestors of blood, about our ancestors of our chosen family and community, about the ancestors of our land, and the ancestors of our spiritual tradition. We think of their lives and their contributions to ours, of what wouldn’t have been possible without them.
During this time, we remember them and talk of them, we include them in our rituals and prayers, we include them in our altars or set special altars for them, we express our gratitude and we think of their lives, their contributions, and their legacy.
But the most interesting part for me comes later. After I think about the past and about those who have left before us, our Ancestors, and what they did, I start pondering about our present and about the future to come. When I think of what they contributed, I end up thinking of what we are contributing to the world.
I think of my grandparents, of my aunts and uncles, of my friends. On how they were there for me in times of need, and I think of how I’m going to be present for those in need. I think of the ancestors of my land and the sacrifices they had to make for me to be able to live here freely and with the ability to exercise my rights, and I wonder what I am contributing to the land I live in and to the world. I think of the elders of my spiritual tradition, of their teachings and of their rituals they created and were passed generation after generation, and I think of the spiritual generations of today and the generations to come, of the spiritual knowledge and rituals they require today and of what the future generations will need in more challenging times to come.
Just as the harvest is part of a cycle, we are part of an ancestors-descendants cycle. We are our future’s ancestors, and our harvest is our next generations’ seeds.
Our thanks to Jaime for his guest post! For more from Jaime Gironés, read his article “5 Things the Day of the Dead Can Teach Us.”