Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day of the Dead

     It is November 1st.  It is All Souls' Day, the day after Halloween.This has always been a special time of year in these northern climes.  It is a definitive time the marks the end of summer and the start of winter.  The harvest is over, the leaves are off of the trees, and the air had a definite wintery feel to it.
      I might be imagining this but it is not the first year that I have experienced this feeling.  I recall the same feeling on many November firsts in my life extending back to my childhood in Detroit.  I never felt it quite as strong in Connecticut as I did in Detroit and as I did today in Chicago.
Why did Halloween and All Soul's Day happen at this time of the year?  Many others have felt something special about this time of years beginning centuries ago.  Back then I can only imagine, without all the diversions of today, people were more attuned to the environment and changing seasons than we are today.  
     The end of the harvest and the last leaves off of the trees, had to give the landscape a barren feel but yet a fresh, still alive feel.   It is a feeling between just at the cusp of life and death.  It is a time of definitive transition.  It is a seemingly perfect moment of the year where the natural melds for an instant with the supernatural.  It feels like a time where the living can sense the souls of the dead.
Perhaps I am projecting to much.  I will freely admit that possibility.  But I think not.  While the seasonal transition is definitive the melding of the natural and supernatural is much more subtle.  My feeling and rationale may not be so off base.
     An internet search and tour, provided the following.  Historically, this goes back to the Druids who divided the year into two parts:  the light part and the dark part.  Today, the day we mark as November 1, is the day that marks the end of the light part of the year and beginning of the dark part of the year.   They believed that communication with the dead was more possible at this time of the year as this time of the year marked the thinning of the space or distance between the worlds of the living and the dead.  They celebrated with bonfires and dressing up in costumes of animals which has led to the dressing up we do to this day.
      The pagan roots of this time of the year would not die.  So as happened in many parts of Christendom, what was known as the Day of the Dead became All Saints Day or All Souls Day.  This change was done in the 7th century by Pope Boniface IV.
      This feeling quickly subsides.  I a few days after this cup, whatever feeling I felt today passes and live resumes its normal routine.  There is something about this day.  i sensed it before and I sensed it again today.  Were the Druids right or am i just a victim of a lifetime of Halloween marketing and hype.  I really don't know.  But, I believe I was somehow tuned into something different today.

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