This blog invites readers to ponder being spiritual beings. What does the Divine want from us? How do we pray? What are we supposed to do?
Where are we going? How are we supposed to get there? What is our purpose in Life? Infinite questions...some thoughts to guide the way to answers...
“In order to experience everyday spirituality, we need to remember that we are spiritual beings spending some time in a human body.” Barbara De Angelis
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Around the world, during the months of October and November, people celebrate various observances for those who have died. Honoring the dead during is different from culture to culture. Yet, many of the old ways inform how we celebrate and honor the dead, today
Halloween comes from an ancient Pagan feast called, Samhain. This was part harvest celebration and part feast of the dead, because the Pagan people of Ireland and Great Britain believed that during this time of the year, the veil that separated this life from the next was lifted. They believed their dead ancestors would come to visit, along with unwelcome spirits. The creation of jack-o-lanterns was a way to keep unwanted ghosts from visiting.
Later, this celebration was divided into two celebrations - All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The faithful would celebrate all the saints, asking for help or intercession in the year ahead on All Saints Day and pray for the souls of those that had died that year on All Souls Day. All Souls Day is called the Day of the Dead in Mexico. These holy days are observed each November 1 and 2.
Halloween or All Hallows Eve is observed the night before All Saints Day - October 31. Part ancient feast and part religious ceremony, during the early days of this celebration, children would dress up as saints, usually their name saint, to march through the streets of the village collecting money and gifts for the poor.
In Japan, the observance is a bit earlier - around August 15 - and is called the Bon Festival. This is a Buddhist tradition, which comes from a legend of a man who asks Buddha to help him after he realizes that his mother is in the realm of the Hungry Ghosts. Buddha told the man to pay homage to the monks. He did, his mother was released from the Hungry Ghost realm and the man danced with joy. This feast is a joyous occasion with song, dancing and fireworks.
The Korean observance, also around August 15, is called Chuseok. The Koreans give thanks to their ancestors for a good harvest. Like Japan, there is dancing, food and drink.
The honoring of ancestors in China occurs in April during Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Day. Chinese families meet at the tombs of their ancestors and literally clean them, burning incense and offering prayers.
Honoring our ancestors, our dearly beloved family and friends is as important today as in the past. Regardless of when or how you honor the dead, may your memories be joyous and may the be balm for your heart and bring you peace.
Ancestor veneration is practiced around the world in many countries. The rites and rituals are based on the belief that our ancestors, as well as the souls of those who have gone on before us, still play a role in our daily lives. Thousands of years ago, my Celtic ancestors honored the dead during the observance of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in in Ireland). They welcomed their dead home, asked that the harvested fields become fertile once more, and warned off restless spirits with grotesquely carved turnips. A sacred fire was lit atop Tlachtga, while on Tara members of the Irish tribes gathered. All the fires in Ireland would be extinguished at this time. Families would light a torch from the great fire on Tlachtga, bring it home and relighting their home fires, which were kept burning year round. This was a time of endings and beginnings. A time to gather in and cast off. A time to remember and a time to forget. Summer and all its glories were past; winter was at the door with its long, …
Yesterday was my mother's birthday. Momma would have been 89 years old yesterday. I had been thinking about her all day, and at one point was feeling very melancholy that I couldn't share something with her that I had found. How I wished she could be just around a corner waiting for me, or simply at the end of the phone ready to chat.
As I thought this, I unconsciously picked up my phone to check my Facebook page. This isn't something I do regularly, because I try not to be a slave to social media, so the serendipity of what happened next was not wasted on me.
The post at the top of my page was from the mother of a close childhood friend. She had posted the essay below, written by Rev. Henry Scott-Holland as part of a sermon he gave in 1910 after the death of King Edward VII.
Death Is Nothing at All
by Henry Scott-Holland Death is nothing at all.
It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.Leonard CohenIn September, the season of Light, Love and Gratitude began. This month, people around the world celebrate - the harvest (Sukkot), grateful for the bounty they have been given; the Light (Diwali), observing Light and darkness; and the love of ancestors (All Soul's Day/All Hallows' Eve), remembering our dead and giving thanks for their lives with us.As we move forward towards the end of the year, the feasts and festivals of Light, Love and Gratitude continue. This year, there is a greater need to observe these days, together. The world is very "dark" in so many places due to natural disasters, hate, oppression, and greed. Observing these Holy days, reminds us that even in the darkest night the Light of millions of stars illuminates the sky. These times together remind us that Love is eternal; that those who shared our lives are always with us. These celebrations remind us to be Grateful for…