Feed The Yogi
Nourish your body, mind, spirit, practice and friends
It’s a Masquerade

dance m

It’s Halloween! Though it might seem that this modern version of the Pagan Holiday bears no connection to the practice of yoga or the eating of food (other than candy)… Think again. In the ancient yogic texts “The Upanishads” there are multiple references and stories about ceremonial and ritual enactments that utilized mask, masquerade, costume, and the parade or organized wandering of those participating in the ceremony to the dwellings of citizens to request food or offerings of some sort. Kind of like trick-or-treating but with a (known and acknowledged) ceremonial intent. And in South American cultures November 1st, Dia de los muertos or Day of the dead is an important ceremony that is prepared for year long. Families prepare food and offerings to their departed friends and ancestors and join them in the cemetery on the night  of the year that, energetically,  is supposed be the easiest to commune with realm of the afterlife.

The Gaelic holiday Samhain is similar to Dia de los muertos, in that the Gaels believed that the night between October 31st and November 1st, the veils between the worlds became thinner and this symbolized the transition from the lightest part of the year to the darkest. This tradition of acknowledging the natural decline or death of crops, the inward turning of the earth gave way to the Christian All Saints or All Souls day celebrations. Somewhere along the way American culture figured out how to market the holiday and it became Halloween.

Festival of the Dead is held by many cultures throughout the world in honor or recognition of deceased members of the community, generally occurring after the harvest in August, September, October, or November. Most of these celebrations feature masquerade or masked and costumed enactments symbolizing the entities of the next world. Food and the offering of food is seen as a gesture of matter or earthly material that is given as sacrament, offering the physical body to be consumed and transformed.

So what are you doing tonight? Whether it’s masked revelry, the doling out of sweets, or a quiet and inward moment of reflection on that which has passed, consider the fact that all over the world this time of year connects those of us living now, with those who have moved on. Our society of spectacle manifests this energy as frightening, aggressive and horrid, but perhaps that’s simply a reflection on a fear of the unknown. It’s interesting to note that cultures still practicing traditions that speak openly of death and dying, honoring this transition rather than fearing it, have less need to dramatize the frightening aspects of death and decay.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.