Saturday, October 4, 2014

Death Day

By Paola Cirmia~
I love spring when life is stirring. Of course summer thrills me as the suns warms me for a while. But we are coming to that time of year where the invisible bones of my dead relatives walk through my yard, and the darkness that resides in us all peeks from the creaking closet door of our childhood nightmares.

Oh, Halloween, my October love. Your brittle embrace allows us a small glimpse of death before our time. 

As I sit on my front porch at dusk and watch the sky turn from orange to purple, I wonder why so many of us are moonstruck in the fall. Some of us feel the familiar pull, the same kiss we read about that turns mortal into beast; and with the waning moon, back into a human being. 

It is more than our memories of trick or treating in the dark, crunchy leaves blowing at our feet, and the crooked smiles of glowing Jack o'lanterns grinning in a slightly sinister way. It is something more primitive, an ancient stirring we feel calling to us, but we don't know how to answer. It confuses us because it is delightful and wicked, but makes us feel very, very good. It is related to death, but we don't know how to celebrate death here in the United States.

We mourn our dead. We have somber ceremonies because a loved one has passed. But we don't celebrate what they were or the spirits they are now, happily haunting us for the rest of our lives. We wish their spirits would stay with us and never leave. We would not fear them.

We are only afraid of the ghosts that don't belong to us. 

Whether it be a simple memory or flash of movement out of the corner of our eyes, our private ghosts are precious. Far too few of us admit a belief in the otherworldly, but October thins the veil between our world and theirs, and the lovely creature-under-the-bed feeling we all experience in the fall is nothing but a temporary stroll between two worlds.

We don't realize it, but we have a foot in each of these worlds. We spend much of our time being rational and logical, states that can be overrated and over valued. But our beloved science is a study of humility, discoveries and revelations constantly being overridden and facts found to be false. 

Knowing when the phone is going to ring, saying the same thing at the same time as a close friend, and a flash of insight about the right thing to do are all tiny windows of our intuitive side, the B side of logic and rationale. Some say children and animals have a natural connection to the great beyond because no one has talked them out of believing, or told them they it is all their imagination. Maybe they trust everyone because they are being guided by the invisible hands of the dearly departed.

The sun sets earlier now, and we are exposed to the dark for longer periods each day. We think differently at night and fear different things. Our belief in the supernatural blooms during these long-shadow days, and we prickle with a faint knowing we don't understand. Why does it feel so good to decorate our homes with trappings of the dead for Halloween? Death is so sad, after all. 

Or is it?

Is this our secret way of celebrating death? Of allowing our intuition to embrace the knowing we have deep in our hearts that our loved ones have simply moved to a different location?

In Mexico and other countries they celebrate Dia de Muertos, an official holiday that honors the dead with sugar skulls, favorite foods of the deceased, and visits to the graveyard. Ghosts walk freely among the living during this three-day event, and friends and relatives do not feel so alone.

We Americans would never admit to celebrating death in such a way. But we will:

* decorate our houses with skulls, monsters, bats, and Jack o'lanterns on Halloween

* get dressed up as Dracula, a mummy, zombie, or any number of undead creatures and go to a party

* call psychics, astrologists, and tarot card readers to hear about our future or contact a dead relative or loved one

* attend a seance for messages from the grave

* watch shows like Ghost Hunters for clues and signs of spirits

The difference is we will do it in the name of FUN. We don't take any of these things seriously, right?

Maybe we should.

Maybe that sigh we heard from the kitchen was not the dishwasher again, and maybe the flickering light in the laundry room was not a loose wire. That perfume...isn't that what Gramma used to wear?

Maybe our minds are naturally more open during this spiced cider time of the year, when we are a bit more in tune with the other side, and the thoughts we have might be more than a little influenced by those we had known and had to bid farewell.

Zero by the amazing Nate Wragg--more here:
I call for a Death Day of our own here in the United States to celebrate the lives of our lost parents, children, grandparents, friends, family, and pets. They deserve more of a place in our lives than just a picture on the mantle. October 30th sounds good to me.

So keep a cup of tea close at hand and don't be so quick to cover your eyes when you feel a shiver of fear. You never know who is close by.

For Marg <3 Woof


  1. Except as a child I knew it was my imagination. Most of the funerals I've been to lately (I've quit there are far too many of my friends) have been Memorial Celebrations. Since I lived on a farm I did not see jack o lanterns when young. That would have been a waste of food. I find ghost stories intriguing, but do not give credence to most. Some things do happen to all of us that will make us wonder. No, I'm not mentioning mine. I did Tweet for you.

  2. Thanks Mari :)
    Glad you stopped by.
    Most do not give credence to them either--

  3. Penelope, This was spot-on. Thank you for a wonderful post.

  4. Interesting post, Penelope. I've often felt the same way!

    1. Thanks Lorelei! Right?? We fancy ourselves as open minded and forward thinking--but I think in certain areas we are very backwards.
      Thanks for the visit. xo

    2. No problem. Oh, wanted to add, I always have to leave out a few of my skulls, bats and so forth throughout the year. You really hit it on the head, with this post. Really I enjoyed it!

    3. XO Thank you. I am the same way! They make you feel somehow at home and comfortable--our little bit of ourselves throughout the year. Mine are ghosts and odd religious items. I know, I know--totally incongruous.


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