Altar Sprouting for the Day of the Dead

Pulling up pole beans

I knew it was the end of summer when I pulled up my pole beans last week. There were just a few mildewy leaves left hanging, even though the vines held fast as they danced around the bamboo stake tee pee. Fortunately the roots came up easily with dirt, rocks and earthworms merrily dangling. The vines were another problem, I had to twist, unwind and finally cut them if I wanted the to save the poles for another garden. I planned to dig in the leaves and stems for compost and leave the spot fallow until next Spring, but as I dug and raked I discovered tiny marigold and lettuce sprouts had taken up residents under the safety of the fallen leaves. I changed my plans and added a few more lettuce plants and will have a tasty winter garden. I live in California, after all.

Brave new life in the midst of decay

seems, to me, what Fall, Halloween, Day of the Dead and Samhain (the ancient name for the time opposite May 1) is all about.  The Sun has entered the sign of Scorpio which is rulled by Pluto. It is a time of surrendering to the end of things. Pluto or Hades, the God of the Underworld, is the only God a human is not able to bargain with. You might be able to trick Him by leaveng a trail of seeds or breadcrumbs in order to find your way out of the deep, dark cave of winter. Without those tiny bits of hope we humans may despair. Some of us even have a disorder called SADD (season affect disorder).


Another way to deal with (trick) this season is to celebrate and build altars to invite and welcome back those who have gone ahead into the dark unknown. They may come close and tell us about that final, long journey. We also recognize and honor (give treats to) babies and the young. They are seedlings that have joyfully volunteered to live this life even though the end is so inevitable.  A Day of the Dead Altar can be as simple as a picture and a candle or an elaborate construction with a marigold arch. You can make offerings of treats: water, food, bread and salt and the Beloved Dead’s favorite things to entice them to join the festivities.

No matter how you celebrate now, and any time before, before, the November 5th Scorpio New Moon, ancient traditional Halloween, the days will be getting shorter and there is no turning back.  Our decent into the dark has begun.

You might as well put some seeds in your pocket, take someone’s hand, go out into the dark and embrace the spiraling, winding dance of Death and Rebirth.  You may find some sprouting, new life, as well!


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