Continuing our meditations on Deep Ecumenism, we recognize the end of October and early November as a season of the dead very important to Celtic peoples, a time when the visible and invisible worlds meet.  The season is surely one of longer nights and darker days in the northern hemisphere. 

RTÉ’s Richard Dowling speaks to archaeoastronomer Dr. Frank Prendergast about solar alignment at Newgrange tomb, where the winter solstice sunrise penetrates a passage to light the burial chamber of Neolithic Irish royalty. RTÉ News

Archeologist Marija Gimbutas reminds us of the importance of the theme of regeneration among ancient peoples whose monuments and burial mounds we find today.  

Throughout prehistory images of death do not overshadow those of life: they are combined with symbols of regeneration.  The Death Messenger and the Death-Wielder are also concerned with regeneration. 

Bees, butterflies and plants amount to “epiphanies of the Goddess of Regeneration.” 

At the crypts in Knossos in Crete subterranean rooms are decorated with “the double ax that symbolizes a horizontal hourglass or butterfly of resurrection.”  Ceremonies including initiation rites were held there and “the participants returned to the womb—that is ‘died’—and after the ceremonies were reborn again.”

A family ofrenda (altar) for the Mexican Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), with favorite foods of the deceased, symbols of regeneration, and marigolds to lead the spirits of lost relatives to the family home. Photo by Vmiramontes on Flickr.

It is fitting therefore that in the West November 2 is set aside as “All Souls Day,” a day to remember those who have gone before us, our ancestors, the departed ones.

A Mesoamerican poet sings to universal questions around death:

Where do we go, oh! where do we go?
Are we dead beyond, or do we yet live?
Will there be existence again?
Will the joy of the Giver of life be there again?
Do flowers go to the region of the dead?
In the Beyond, are we dead or do we still live?
Where is the source of light, since that which gives life hides itself? 

Chief Seattle said: “The dead are not powerless….Dead, did I say?  There is no death, only a change of worlds!”

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faith Traditions, pp. 335-339.

Banner Image: The Minoan symbol of the Labrys, the double-ax, inscribed on a stone in Knossos – Heraklion (Iraklion), Crete, Greece 2014. Photo by Erik Torner on Flickr.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

Is the ancient Mesoamerican poet speaking for you?  How do you connect to the ancestors?

Recommended Reading

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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3 thoughts on “Deep Ecumenism and All Souls Day”

  1. Avatar

    Chief Seattle’s words, “There is no death, only a change of world’s,” speaks to me. As well as Mathew’s comments of the Indigenious people’s perspective, regarding making choices, keeping the next seven generations in one’s vision. My hope and prayer is that this is the vision our political and economic leaders globally will keep in view, as they make important decisions regarding the issues of climate change that we are all facing together, and the necessary sacrifices required now, in response to this.

    The great web of life, and it’s transformative cycles are indeed a circle. The Indigenious people in the teachings I received, speak of this as the interconnecting Sacred Hoops, that must be preserved and protected. The hoop dancers reflect this reality.

    One way I connect with the ancestors is through drumming and singing ancient prayer chants with others… sacred prayers that have been sung down through the ages, passed on from one generation to another. I am grateful for the sharing of this form of prayer that I have been priveledged and blessed to participate in, including this within my own spirituality, as a gift given.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I have just done a month on different idea concerning life after death at my Creation Spirituality Community (i.e. “Spiritwind”), and so Chief Seattle’s words, remind me of something else–of life after death–for he says, as you quote–“The is no death, only a change of world’s.” And of course I also appreciate “the indigenous people’s perspective, regarding making choices, keeping the next seven generations in one’s vision” our politicians would do well, as you say, to keep this in mind as they make important decisions considering climate change, and I would add the economic future of our country in view of what has been done recently in our country…

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