I love and hate Halloween. With all of it's spookiness and creative frivolity, which I ADORE, it is still such a placid, underachieving, superficial, folksy holiday, with little memory of its roots.
Dear Halloween in America,
Pull yourself together. You spent 8.5 billion dollars on Halloween this year, Americans. But you are missing your true purpose.
Rise up, Halloween. You're better than this.
A little background for us. Halloween is Samhain, a fall pagan festival of blessing the harvest, and a recognition of the souls who have passed. It is a powerful opportunity to grieve, and acknowledge and make peace with our memories of the dead, as it's often thought that the veil is thin between the worlds, and we have more sensitivity to the spirit world.
And Halloween is an opportunity to recognize the power of illusion and the role we play in it. WE WEAR MASKS EVERYDAY. We consistently get frustrated by the masks others wear, but have a very hard time taking off our own - or even seeing that we are wearing them. We listen to the stories of conditioned mind, and we believe them, and then we present those stories to the world extraordinarily convincingly. But there are moments of triumph in the midst of the madness!
The triumphant day is the day that our dreams reveal to us that our beef is with the collective's agreement upon egoic conditioning that has us in a vice, and our anxiety and depression are mere signposts, signally that if we don't rip off our masks, we're all going to be short on air. Do we choose to live in boxes? "I would prefer not to." (Thus spake Bartelby the Scrivener)
The triumphant day is the day we choose to take off our masks, and connect to one another, and stand for each other, the day we stand for the truth, the day we nest into the truth of our beings and know what we truly need, what we truly care for, and how we can serve. There have always been warriors. At this moment in history we can take a cue from the water protectors, the warriors at Standing Rock.
"Almost nobody wants to grow up," said Cheri Huber once. Conditioning is like the warm lap of mommy - seductively comfortable. Wriggling free takes a lot of luck, and a lot of pluck. But when we take a stand for what is sacred, and stand together with those who need protection, our spirits get pulled back from death's door.
Life is a short little masquerade. This brief strut upon the stage can be either a droll prison of tasks dutifully performed by a machine of a human, or it can be a dance of creativity, a struggle to be who we truly are, and a struggle to protect all that is true.
The tragedy is if we never allow ourselves to revolt against the roles we've scripted for ourselves, and the roles that the powers that be have held us in. The tragedy is if we never stand up for truth, and allow ourselves to weather the sting of change. Sometimes our addiction to sameness and smallness keeps us maddeningly obedient, confined to one costume. Rip the mask off for a moment at least, and be naked to the world; steel yourself to samskara's dissent, and find some pathway forward that doesn't just replay the old conditioned stories of the past.
How to rip off the mask that conditioning puts on:
1/ weave honest communication into your communities, into your relations. find a place to talk frankly about your struggles, your spiritual practice, what you care about. align with goodness, with humanity, and with human rights. stand up against oppression. and honor change. align with the forces of goodness, stand in solidarity with the sacred. take cues from #standingrock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooHX2ndjwvA
2/ light a candle for someone on the other side. make space for grief. gather heirlooms of your deceased family, friends, pets. send them to the light. honor change.
3/ let your unconscious have a place to roam. write down your dreams. make art. dance. play. and honor change.
4/ be in nature. honor the earth, honor fall; the naked trees, the rotting undergrowth, the cool, damp, darkness of a forest in fall, the wild ocean of the fall, the short days. honor what is dying in yourself; the relationships you are releasing, the loss of a job perhaps, even if you didn't welcome it. acknowledge the change in the roles you play. honor change.
5/ reflect! journal, or paint, or make art, and reflect on what the past year has been for you. what have you harvested? what efforts have borne fruit, what has appeared to have been fruitless, and what have you learned from the gains and the losses? what can be released today? honor change.
6/ let go! what can be released, what can be buried, what can be recycled, what can be burned? again, honor change!
And whenever you can, wherever you can. Stand for the Earth. There's a revolution happening in Standing Rock, at the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ camp, and across the country. Over 200 indigenous American nations and 6,000 people have travelled to the community in an unprecedented act of solidarity. Catalyzed by the fight against Dakota Access Pipeline, Native American tribes are protecting their water, but even more, protecting their sovereignty in the face of a colonialist State.