In many northern hemisphere traditions Halloween is the time to honor the ancestors, to honor the spirits of unseen nature, the powers of destiny, wonder and mystery that surround us and permeate us.
People ask me how to honor ancestors. Many of us don't know much about our ancestors, and some of us despise our ancestors.
One of the keys is that we are not necessarily honoring the behavior of our ancestors. We are honoring that every life that has ever passed across the skin of this Great Mother Earth has been a hard life, full of turmoil, dilemma, joy, grief, wrong choices and bravery.
We are honoring the fact that our ancestors carried the Life Force their entire life and they passed it on to us so that we may carry it, so that we may protect and defend and work with it. For those ancestors who we admire, we ask that we work with the life force with as much courage and beauty as they did. For those ancestors who we despise, we ask that we do a better job with the life force than they did.
And for those ancestors whose behaviors disappoint or horrify and wound us, we do the hardest and most wonderful act: we bring them beauty and food through ceremony in order to heal what was unhealed in them during their life - and in that unhealed state they perpetrated things that were wrong. It is a tenet of shamanic practice that life exists on a circle, and to heal any part of the circle brings healing to other parts of the circle. Here is the secret: When we heal our ancestors we are healing ourselves and our descendants. We cease the generational distribution of spiritual poisons. Here is the other secret: unhealed, we repeat the perpetrations of our ancestors. Healed, we awaken and bring different actions into this world.
The shamans remind us that we have our human ancestors, but we also have our nonhuman and pre-human ancestors: the fertile earth, the fruitful sea, the rocks, the winds, the stardust, the tides, the lightning, the creatures great and small - all of these are our ancestors and we will honor them and feed them the food of beauty this Saturday.
I invite one and all to join us this Saturday for Spiritual Halloween, I can virtually guarantee you he will come away feeling blessed and in the state of wonder.