03 October 2012
All Dead, All Dead
There are parties and decorations and costumes and concerts and community events. Maybe, just maybe, people have more fun in October than any other month of the year.
Maybe this draw to fun, parties, and community comes from a primal need for us to all come together this time of year. Mother Nature is giving one last push of her bounty before the winter season finally settles over the land. And then that's it. And that's pretty scary, and maybe we need one another to cope, to remind ourselves "no, we're not dead yet! look, we live!"
October in all of its beauty is a season of inevitable change. It reminds us that in order for something to be so amazingly fun and awesome, it can't last forever. All things are created and all things are destroyed. October in all of its bright colors and festivities dances on the edge of life and death.
Some Catholics celebrate All Souls Day and All Saints Day as a way to honor the blessed dead. For the ancient Celtic and other European tribes, this time of year was the time to bring in the last of the harvest and to prepare for a long, cold winder. Herds were culled down and farmers were forced to decide which animals would live through the winter and which ones would not. This practice gives us one folk name of October's full moon - the Blood Moon.
So, for all of our celebration, for all of our fun and candy, October is a time for us to come together as a community, to cling to one another as if it's a matter of life or death because maybe it really is.
Because yes, October is fun. But sometimes the winter is not. And yes, we're alive now. But nature is dying, and we are, too.
October is a time to embrace our lives. It is a time of community and harvest, and of death and shadows. We are confronted with the glory of life and death every hour and every minute of October. The pumpkins shine like giant golden moons. The leaves in many places are still green, but in others they are red, yellow, brown.
In our modern world it's hard to imagine having to slaughter animals and make choices of life and death for the winter. We can just go to the grocery store and buy fruits and vegetables and bacon and just forget all about it. But for a few moments, imagine your ancestors. Imagine how they felt about the change in the season, from summer to autumn, and then to the dark, cold winter. Think about the fear of the unknown they must have felt, the certainty of death within their lives
October teaches us to not be afraid when confronted with our own mortality. Yes, we're alive. Yes, we'll die. Life and death are both gifts. And in October, celebrate. Eat, drink and be merry because the seasons are changing, because tomorrow we, or someone we love, might die. Follow your primal urges in October to make the most of this month and this season.
Watch scary movies. Listen to gothic music. Wear black. Decorate your house in skeletons and skulls. Tell stories of your blessed dead. Toast to the ancestors. Go to parties. Stay up late. Don't get enough sleep. Drink too much. Eat apples and bacon. Look at a pomegranate. Carve a pumpkin. Snack on the seeds. Wear a costume. Spook yourself out. Take a walk. Smell some dirt.
Do not hide from the shadow or death. Confront it. Laugh at it. Laugh with it.
Because, like all of nature, we will die. We will be taken in. But next season, we will be reborn.