We are about to enter the hallowed season of Ayamarca, the Inca Festival of the Dead.
The whole of November is dedicated to honouring those who have passed on, beloved ones who have died in our life-time and those who died long ago, our ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfather, those who have stepped outside of time and space.
We, in the western cultures, also celebrate something similar, Halloween.
It is a shame there is so much misunderstanding, mainly by Abrahamic religions, and ignorance regarding this sacred and venerable festival. It is not about evil, horror, gore, or the devil. In my opinion this fear is based on the shadow self of this season and the shadow of these masculinised religions, the fear of death, and the annihilation of the ego. It is a curse, the belief in death.
In reality, it is quite the opposite. It is about the light of Spirit, munay - sacred love – the humanness, the finality and in-finality of life. Honouring loved ones both here in this world and those who have gone, but never forgotten.
Halloween has a far older name (and I’m sure there are older still,) Samhain [SOW-IN] is a Gaelic festival of the dead, marking the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. The dark half of the year, a crossroad, a time where the veil between the worlds is believed to be at its thinnest, the Good Crone Calliach rides the winds and the Mountain Sprits of the North blow the Icey winds across the land.
At this time, the animals would be driven down from the summer highlands to be slaughtered for the winter. With the dark night’s drawing in and the copious smell of blood and decay in the air, it is no wonder nightmarish imagery would be conjured in the night. Talismans and amulets were used to deter fearful spirits, turnips would be carved with crewel faces and put outside to scare them away; we do this even today with our pumpkin carvings. Masks would be worn, so the spirits would not tell who was who, we do even this today with trick-or-treaters running amok.
Halloween is for me the conch shell horn, signifying the start of the season of honouring those who have died of flesh and have been re-born back into light.
Ayamarca is a period of time, in which we make sacrifices, what are you willing to let go of, in order for life to flow?
It is a time to be grateful, to fill your heart with gratitude, what/who are you grateful for?
It is also the season in which we speak to our loved ones, both living and light-bodied.
Light a candle in their name, tell your stories and fondest memories, look through your old photo albums or research your family tree. Above all, talk to them, they can hear you, the veil is thin and beautiful, maybe they will share with you their wishes and prayers for you.
Remember, one day we will all be ancestors to our children’s children, what is your wish, your prayer for them? Be a candle in the dark this season, shine your light brightly.
Shamanism has been a passion and an inspiration for me for many years now.