Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

Congratulations to the three winners of Queen of My Self T-shirts:

Lynn Caverly, NC

Angel Rodriguez, AZ

Joanna Stern, FL

 

I see “Begin Again” as an ideal theme for this season. We have the supreme opportunity now in the autumn of our midlife to begin again. How shall we reinvent our Selves? What new programs, projects and passions are on the horizon for us? Please send me your stories of change, transition, and transformation. Our shared experiences serve to inspire and empower us all.

Now our theme of the first half of autumn, Begin Again, comes to a close with an ending. Which is only another beginning in the great circle of Life!

Thanks.

xxQueen Mama Donna

 

Happy Halloween

At the halfway point of fall, when the nights were lengthening, when the winds from the north were subsiding, and the Nile was sinking, the ancient Egyptians held the Isia. This six-day pageant commemorated the death of the Corn God, the deity of crops and harvest in the personification of Osiris, son of Isis, The Earth Mother for whom the Isia is named. Participants masqueraded as goddesses and gods reenacted the saga describing the death, disappearance and rebirth of Osiris. The story of the death of Osiris came to represent all the generations of the deceased. And the Isia was celebrated in honor of all departed souls.

The traditions and ceremonial elements of this early Egyptian day of all souls, the Isia, traveled north and west through Greece and Rome to merge with those of the death cults of tribal Europe. When the Europeans, themselves, pursued and amassed vast empires abroad, the festival of death went, too. The essential ceremonial symbols — the ghost, the mask, the fire, the food — have survived the centuries undiminished. They are the still-vital centerpieces of our own fall festival of death, Halloween.

Halloween comes from the pagan Celtic mid-fall holy day, Samhain, which was, above all, a fire festival. Indomitable, it blazed and burned undampened by the transparent overlay of Christianity. As in the Isia the mid-autumn festival of the dead in Egypt from which it evolved, fires were lit in aid of the dying sun. Torches and lanterns made from turnips (the prototypes of the familiar pumpkin Jack-o-Lanterns) guided the friendly ghosts where they wanted to go. And great bonfires were set to ward off any uninvited spooks and unsavory spirits.

During Samhain, people outfitted themselves in masks and costumes as a sort of protection ritual, believing that one could successfully hide behind such a disguise and thereby escape bedevilment. In addition, as in the original masquerade of the ancient Isia, their special apparel was intended to imitate and propitiate the deities. Perhaps even fool them through flattery. This is the original trick of “trick or treat.”

The treat is just as traditional. “Oh, you who are our ancestors, who are departed, deign to come and eat!” the dead are called into supper in Cambodia on the Festival of the Dead. In Persia, food and drink were placed in the hall of the dead. The Dahomey of West Africa prepare a harvest ritual called Setting the Table and invite the spirits of the ancestors. In Sicily as well, the table is set for those returning from the grace on I Morti, The Dead. Families in Mexico hold picnics in the cemetery with the past generations right on their graves. A sort of breakfast in bed for the dead.

In Mexico, the death fact of life is sweetened with skeleton cookies and candies shaped like skulls, coffins, and gravestones. Calaveras, meaning “skulls” and “corpses” is also the name of special greeting cards with teasing poems and cartoons, like funny valentines, which are sent to friends, public figures, and even policemen and priests. These make fun of character flaws, foibles, and faulty political positions — all of which are ultimately, pitifully, inconsequential, you see, because everyone is, after all, a calavera and dead already, anyway. This line of reasoning does tend to lend a certain perspective to things! Makes a person think.

As well we should. Perspective is precious. Death is right around the corner for us all. But we are here right now. Cause enough for a celebration. We might as well live it up while we can. We might as well get all dressed up and go collect candy from the neighbors.

Happy Halloween!

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

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