The veil is thin. Do you feel it? This is a time when our Beloved Dead seem close to us, close enough to speak with and perhaps for us to hear or feel some response in turn. This is a time when we may look at our hands and see our father’s hands in them, look in a mirror and see our grandmother’s eyes, or our great-uncle’s nose. A time when we look through old family photos and see our children or grandchildren in the faces and bodies of our great-great-great aunts and uncles. We know in the marrow and minerals of our bones, at the hearthfire of each one of our cells, our Ancestors within us.
And we recognize within our imaginative and joyful hearts, in the weaving of thought and memory, those whom we have loved who have gone before — be they friends, teachers, or connected by other means to our souls and lives. These Beloved Dead live on in us, even as they live on in some other form where we cannot go (for now).
This is a time when the dark takes hold of the light and expands into shadow and into the deep soul of the earth, when mystery widens and takes hold of the stars. This threshold time is when we can turn our faces toward the wind, and catch our Loved Ones’ voices in our beings. It’s a time when we glimpse them in the movement of branches and hear them in the call of Owl, and when we meet them in our Dreams.
Everywhere I poke and prod into the cultural ways of my lineages — from my Irish great-great grandmother to my many generations back German ancestry to my Mexican heritage to my own more immediate Catholic heritage — this is the time when we honor All Souls, as a collective, but also specifically as Loved Ones in our lives full of personality and rich in quirks. If you look in your lineages I’m sure you’ll find this awareness too. It seems to me that to honor our Dead, to respect our Ancestors, to speak with them and our own urge to invite them to the table is an urge woven into the fabric of our human family. By definition one’s family in both the nuclear and species sense includes the Ancestors — and the Future Generations too, I might add. Whether we are consciously aware or this fact or not, we are embedded in generations. This is true Family Nature.
This is a time to feast our Beloved Dead and to know them to be caring for us still. This awareness makes and keeps us strong. As the turning of the earth and her passage round the sun carries those of us in the Northern Hemisphere into the Dark of the Year, how are your departed Loved Ones speaking to you? It may be through a certain songbird drawing close, or the unfurling of a particular flower by which you know them. It may be in your dreams, or in a feeling as you stand at the stove, stirring with a particular wooden spoon. You may feel the hand of your Loved One holding yours around the spoon, and the two of you preparing the food together. You may know them in the golden light of sunset, a comforting sweep and sigh of cloud.
Go outside, open your senses, feel yourself in your bones and blood and cells, and in the aurora borealis dance of your thoughts, imaginings, and emotions. How do your Beloved Dead still show up for you? How are they speaking to you right now?
Here is the secret that is woven into this time of year: The veil is always thin. This threshold time of year, autumn moving into winter and the en-darkening of the year invites us into the truth and awareness that this is so.