As a kid, I lived in a housing co-op for printers comprised of 7 buildings which were 18 stories each. Our crew would take the elevator to the top floor, and split up going down for efficiency. I don’t remember ever having to perform a trick and I do remember racing down stairs to make the most of our group doorbell ringing effort. If the night was warm, we’d do our candy exchange at the clubhouse on Dead Man’s Hill or go back to my apartment on chillier evenings.
These days, not a single costumed kid comes to my door. Even if they did, I’m conflicted about the ritual itself — meant to be a way of remembering our dead beloved and dressing ourselves up like those souls who still wander to give others the opportunity to be generous in their “treats.” A far cry from our commercially sanctioned approach to creating sugar junkies. (Yeah I know, bah humbug!)
Rituals and ceremonies are ways that we fee connected, loved and supported and this time of year throughout the Northern Hemisphere, whether you celebrate Samhein or Sukkot or Dia de los Muertos, is the time of year when it becomes easier to communicate with saints and heros and loved ones on the other side.
Now is a wonderful time of year to sharing stories about those who came before us — or left too soon.
One meditation I lead often this time of year is visualizing oneself surrounded by 254 ancestors — or 7 generations’ worth. Sometimes, I just sit and imagine myself having a cup of coffee and kibitizing with them. Other times, I ask them to weigh in on something I’m wrestling this, giving me a blessing or just thanking them for what I can live that they could not.
I started doing this meditation a few years back based on the writing of Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi — and as someone who only met the generation immediately before me, keeping in mind what Lama Rod Owens said in a training I did with him this time last year: not all of us know who are ancestors are but you can still call them in, because they know you.
Whether you’re more the solo ritual type or gather with friends and family to share stories of those who came before us, as we find ourselves between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, may you find the opportunities to turn inward and backwards, away from the dimming light outside and toward your own sweet souls.