A few years back, I built an altar for Dia de Los Muertos to honor my parents. We have no Aztec or Spanish blood in our lineage, but I’ve always loved the tradition. Creating the altar was a labor of love that involved hauling a lot of stuff to the Sherman Heights Community Center, including candles and marigolds. But it was worth it to share Mom and Dad’s lives with others via pictures, their favorite foods, and the written word. I swapped memories with others as we built our altars in the communal space; some were incredibly elaborate and others were simple, but all were made with love. Once the show opened, I enjoyed watching people experience the altars. There were festive decorations all around, and earthy copal incense enveloped us. With everyone dressed as their shadow selves, it felt like the Spirit World was palpably present. And I sensed my parents silently watching, pleased to be remembered.
Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated on Nov. 1-2 each year, although the original Aztec tradition honored the god and goddess of death for the entire month of November (the Catholic Church later syncretized the dates to coincide with All Souls Day). Day of the Dead also falls on the heels of All Hallows Eve-Halloween (known to the Celts as Samhain, the Witches’ New Year). No matter how you toss it, the period from mid-October to mid-November is a sacred time. This is especially true for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, who are watching the trees shed their leaves and feeling a distinct nip of cold in the air.
October 23 through November 21 is also the time when the Sun slides through Scorpio, sign of the depths and all that is hidden in the shadows. Scorpio represents fixed water, that which lies silent but potent under the ice. Hence the sign’s association with fierce but sometimes buried feelings as well as inner reservoirs of strength. How appropriate that this sign of death and rebirth would inspire people to wear skeleton costumes and paint their faces to look like ghouls to celebrate the Spirit World.
At the upcoming Taurus Full Moon (October 28, 1:23 p.m. PDT), the watery Scorpio Sun is anchored by an opposition to the earthy Taurus Moon. This is helpful, as it brings a bit of grounding during a time that could otherwise feel a bit slippery. This Full Moon is a good time to focus on our physical bodies and material needs. Yet the Moon is partially eclipsed by the Sun, placing the Scorpio Sun in a position of supremacy (those in parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia will see a shallow partial lunar eclipse overnight on Oct. 28-29). Yet Mars, super-charged in its own sign of Scorpio, is conjunct Mercury in the same sign. This can trigger hidden power plays or heated, spontaneous words. It may be best to leave important discussions for another day, and steer clear of those who are seeking a fight. We may also be dealing with inner turbulence, or feeling motivated to attack a problem that’s ready to be resolved.
Since this Full Moon falls on Halloween weekend, why not express your subterranean self? You could honor the Muertos by painting your face and/or wearing a headdress of skulls and flowers. You might also use this energy to do some soul searching or petition your ancestors. Light a candle to someone you loved. Send them blessings, then ask for their help – for yourself as well as those throughout the world who are suffering. Burn some copal incense on charcoal. Or, as I do each year, visit a community center that’s honoring the ancestors in the week leading up to Dia de Los Muertos. To honor the Taurus Full Moon, you might even walk through a cemetery barefoot and bless its silent denizens. Mars will be exactly opposite Jupiter, magnifying things to the max, so go all out but stay safe (and smudge yourself afterwards). It’s often been said that the veil between the worlds is thinnest now, so be sure to listen for subtle messages, pay attention to your dreams and honor your intuition. Magickal blessings to you!