Its been quite a psychological ride preparing this post. No wonder sweets and goodies are offered around as one of the traditions for the advent of this season. As the saying goes, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down and the deeper lessons on tap these days is good medicine – if we can just stop fixating on beliefs about the seemingly unpleasant parts of what makes us healthier, more whole. We can be stubborn like that. Entire cultures can become that stubborn. So pop a chocolate or whatever you fancy and read on…
The parameters of our physical world vary from season to season and we prepare as best we can for what may come. In these days, stock markets measure world food supplies and set prices, home owners order heating fuel or start stacking up the firewood. And communities mark the time with events that employ symbols. As the natural world demonstrates, the symbols for these times are about matters we don’t comprehend or even like to think about – unavoidable macro realities that touch each micro world.
Halloween or All Saints Eve
Celebrated all over North America and in many parts of Europe, this night time festivity will be about having fun pretending to be a person or entity – be it a devil or a saint, whichever your culture gives most attention to. Well, we are pretty much all familiar with the marketable version of Halloween but to be to clear about its historical meaning, here’s a link from wikipedia that will tell you it ‘initiates the triduum of Hallowmas, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. On the 31st, all manner of evil spirit may roam freely; November 1st is All Saints Day and November 2nd is All Souls Day.’
Celebrated in places where people have roots in Paganism and Celtic traditions, though there are quite a few in the ‘modern’ world happily adopting or returning to it, its time for this festival. Click below for two lovely posts on Samhain, the annual last harvest celebration and time of the thinning of the Veil between the living and the dead:
Nightmistwalker says, ‘Prepare your harvest. Dig the potatoes, late carrots, beets and turnips. Think about your ancestors and phone the elderly members of your family. Collect the stories to pass on to your descendants. Include the lessons and wisdom that your ancestors have shared.’
Solowytch shares a typical feast – with profound meaning built in – and other traditions for the holiday meal.
What About the Rest of the Peoples?
I wanted to see what other cultures around the world do to celebrate this time of the earth’s bounty, lessening sunlight and the coming of colder weather. But its a bit more complex than that. For instance, in China it isn’t necessarily getting darker earlier on the day they celebrate one of their major harvests but its still very cold and there is no certainty the crops will make it through heavy rains that can hit right up until the reaping days. I learned that the time of year can vary greatly due to the variety of crops that individual nations consider essential to life. This makes sense, of course, as staple diets will vary by geography and hemisphere. But there was a thematic and elemental connection in every culture I had the time to investigate.
A universal archetype energy flows: the earth giving up its ripened bounty as sustenance and some insurance against the stark possibility of starvation, and the consequent time of the soil resting, has inspired humans for millennia to likewise rest, to honor those already departed and the deities believed responsible for safekeeping the dead – which often also happen to be those able to safeguard food crops.
How cool is that?!
Body – Mind – Spirit Overview
*Beneath the earth’s surface, there is just as much activity as above. And during the night hours, there are just as many creatures out and about seeking their various needs with skills and body parts that excel in the absence of light.
*This activity is mysterious and even frightening to humans who live most comfortably on the surface of the planet employing their optic nerves in the light of day.
*It is to regions below the surface that we see organic life disintegrates. Any walk around a woodland or even a city park can show a creature in a state of decay.
*But animating Spirit doesn’t leave a similar print.
*It is under ground that many civilizations place their dead.
*Our collective imagination is busier during the colder, darker months of the year. During periods of inclement weather, energy usually directed towards moving about on our lands is forced inwards to the regions and reflective landscapes of the mind. Before the relatively recent discovery of electricity, the fire and candle light threw shadows as we sat amongst our clan and our ears carried more information for our brains to process…if the darkening season didn’t come, how much longer might it have taken for people groups to ponder the mysteries of the ‘other side’?
How is it that this child carries so much of the personality of that ancestor? Where are our ancestors now and what are they doing? Could it be that they can influence the safety of our crops? Or could it be that they can have a word-prayer with the deities that rule this crucial part of existence? And how can we follow the prints of the Spirit…even when its scary?
While science will tell us that they have no tools for measuring Spirit, there are a solid number of things we can consider and implement to safeguard our agricultural activities. This position, however, does not bring satisfaction. For many there still remains 1. unexplainable personal experiences, 2. the fact that we know we don’t know everything and, 3. the firmly lodged concepts of good and evil or balance and imbalance.
For thousands of generations, humans have used physical-world cycles and symbol imagery to teach our young about how to live in ‘goodness’ and/or ‘balance’. The complex world could always be reduced to a simple polarity, continually illustrated in LIFE. Feeling overwhelmed? Lost your way? Feeling persecuted? Culture says: ponder what you’ve been taught through your histories, myths and sacred stories. Respect your elders, honor your traditions, revere your Spirit/s. Just in case…!
BOO! You never know when ‘evil’ or ‘imbalance’ will strike, do you?
Archetype of the Underworld & Things Unseen
You are reading this in the 21st century and so a lot of these innate drives might feel dead to you. But are they really? If we could agree that conceptually these subjects (and those mentioned in my last post featuring this archetype) are about human beings experiencing the ups and downs of vital issues such as food, co-operation, fertility, health and longevity, and that most final portal called Death, then perhaps we could also agree that they could all be filed in the somewhat same folder: That which we cannot CONTROL.
And that hasn’t ever changed. Not in a thousand years. The way in which different culture groups and individuals approach these issues evolves as circumstance dictates. Nothing lasts forever. Astrology calls this the domain of Pluto.
Honouring the Cycle in Our Times
Lets get back to the reason for this season. Lets forget about the constant drive for the most gorgeous surfaces and focus on the mysteries; say, for example, why fear and ugliness always seem to be linked in our psyches. Lets also marvel at our ability to separate the wheat from the chaff with practice over Time.
The wisdom of the generations who have come before us says that you cannot fully appreciate your daylight if you don’t consider what the dark places and times have contributed to it.
You can’t expect to live in perpetual light. You can’t move your life forward into new seasons if you are stuck fixating on what’s irreparable or unfair with this one. Fear of starvation, metaphoric or physical, will trump fear of the unknown at some point.
So, what have the scary moments taught you about yourself, about life? What did you learn you need to have in a relationship when your last one failed? Where ever you have had the rug pulled out from under you, reflect on what remained. Because that’s what you take forward with you – and you can study it thoughtfully, harvest wisdom and repack your bags.
We cant know what project, idea, relationship will fail or succeed until we start genuinely thinking about what we have to bring to the table to offer in exchange for what we hope to receive. What’s in your luggage?
I love the latest news from astrophysics: all that dark empty space we gaze upon at night isn’t really dark and empty at all. Its chock full of suns and their orbiting bodies but you have to fixate your gaze through the right lenses for an extended period of time. You have to sit down and plan to Not Move for a while. Space has properties similar to fabric: texture, weight, stretchiness and bounce. Wow! And we thought is was just nothing but icy void.
Ok, back to our proverbial table… If we believe that its a ‘good’ mix, we know why and we make a plan, we initiate. But we don’t really control. We wont anticipate everything – and neither will others that we deal with. We simply can’t SEE everything – and nothing remains static. And that’s not ugly or to be feared, its just the facts.
If we can relax with this truth, if we keep this front and center in our minds as we proceed, we can forgive ourselves or others when ‘evil’ or ‘imbalance’ rears its head. We can even go so far as to stare the evil or imbalance in the face and take a moment to mentally register the gifts of insight it is offering.
Since You Cant Beat It, Join It
This is a universal human condition; no matter how many millions of a currency you possess, all of the examples, metaphors and symbols for this archetype are about the non-negotiable. Yet, there is nourishment, essential vitamins and minerals under the tired surface and its there for the taking. That’s the wondrous paradox.
Maybe your personal rest isn’t going to be in the coming months; you know your journey. Maybe its coming sometime next year as a project completes. Or maybe you will have to schedule a little bit of each day for a mini-rest. Even if your culture is telling you that its wrong, for one reason or another.
And in good Time, with patience, expect the familiar urges to return in evolved form: Regenerate, re-birth, to soar like the eagles. And that process, fellow harvesters, is a glimpse of what archetype Pluto’s purpose for every human being is all about.