Day of the Dead: Ode to my Ancestors
by Kathleen Prophet
"Just as the Celtic day began at night, Samhain (Halloween) may have actually marked the Celtic New Year, for our ancestors knew that from dark silence come whisperings of new beginnings and the stirring of the seed underground..."
"The dark days of November lead us deeper into the mysteries of Samhain, with All Saints' Day on November 1 and All Souls' Day on November 2, two Christian festivals that overlaid the earlier pagan festivals of the dead."
-Kindling the Celtic Spirit, by Mara Freeman
It is raining... night has deepened... and the life exuding from the presence of the Death Tree radiates in this my darkened room. I feel the powerful inner response to these days... All Hallow's Eve... Samhain (Celtic New year), Day of the Dead... All Soul's Day. It is the moment of ritual... a moment of honoring the ancestors, listening carefully, quieting myself to respond to the subtle undulations that move me, that live deep in my bones. I am feeling such incredible energy... deep dark down energy.
can you feel it?
the veil betwixt worlds
the presence of ancestors
brush against my skin
velvet black cloak
enfolding the mystery
My Death Tree stands in the corner... a magnificent orange burnt branch from the canyon, rusty barbed wired wrapped around her base with black veil winding up her trunk... on the floor a large piece of black felt upon which lay the dead things from the forest... thistle seeds scattered round, burnt-orange cones leaning against fire-blackened wood covered in lime green moss... crow feathers held within the barbed wire, along with seedpods from the dogwood and a vial of ashes from the canyon... bones encircle the skull with a wolf bone near the encased scorpion, black wings and dead roses in the back... and the ancestors... my father's hair and knife held within the circle of bones, with pictures of the lineage of my father's on one collage, mothers on the other, upon the wall...
The dark beauty of this place is so vibrant... how can it be that the dead are more vital than the living?
And thus, I honor my ancestors... and all of our ancestors, on this dark day of the dead...
Ode to My Ancestors
I am here to honor my ancestors, those who have gone before me whose shoulders I stand upon... the warriors, the poets, dancers, storytellers, the farmers and barbarians, murderers and kings, the artists, craftsman, healers, whores and courtesans, all whose lineage I am. Here I stand at this nexus in time and space birthing forth the new energy, the ancient energy, the primal urges of creation seeking their place in this world. It is your altars that I have been called to create, to honor and dance to. It is your work that has beckoned me from the depths of the underworld to perform. It is to this task that I dedicate this journey I am about to embark upon. May it ennoble the spirit and the soul of this humanity. May it ennoble the spirit and soul of each one of you...
May I dare to look into your wretched face and coexist with you, beat upon my chest and speak the vulgarities of the soul. To live the full spectrum of life and love and death, of pain and ecstasy, fear and joy, dread and delight, torture and contempt, and the passionate embrace of lust... to live in the fullness that each of you lived and died in.
These are the passions of the gods and goddesses that were long forgotten, long forsaken, yet never ceased to be... for they are the very force of creation itself that pulsates through the blood and bones of life without which all would cease to be. And thus the paltry human, the little ego hasn't a chance against these raw primal forces. Believing itself to be in control, it truly is but a puppet on the chain, the ancestral chain, pulled and dragged and beaten, until one day, one life, it awakens and chooses to dance with the forces of life and destruction, chooses to play out the drama of the gods, to be in relationship and understand with the utmost respect and regard, its place in the scheme of things.
I choose to be in relationship to you and I submit to the power of your impulses, yet I do not grovel, for without the "I" you also would not have anything to dance through. And I recognize that though you want honor, though you want respect, you also want a mate to create with to give new life, new expression to the archetypal field. You too desire evolvement, you too are ever seeking toward the Self, toward the Whole, which is ever expanding, ever changing.
And thus, in relationship to you I submit myself... to dance with you, sing the songs of sorrow and victory, create beauty in life, to love deeply, passionately and enduringly through the black forest of despair and loss, and to face death honorably. Yes, life is what I choose to express, and what I have always chosen, knowing that in each moment I face the inevitability of death.
May I never forget the honor and sanctity of this moment.