I have long been enamored with the Day of the Dead celebrations of the Hispanic culture of Mexico and Central America, which, as I’ve gotten older, have become my favorite part of this time of year. My Halloween decorations themselves are now decorated with sugar skulls, brightly colored candles and images of Santa Muerte, the Lady of Holy Death.
Years ago, I read about Mictecacihuatl (pronounced Meek-tay-cah-see-wah-tl) who, in ancient Aztec mythology, is literally the Lady of the Dead. According to legend, she was born and sacrificed as an infant and now rules, with her husband, as the goddess of the underworld. It is her role to guard the bones of the dead until they are reborn. Back then, as I struggled to reclaim the parts of myself that had died along road of my life, she became my patron saint and personal guide to rebirth and reclamation.
Another tradition that, for me, now goes hand in hand is that of Descansos, the personalized roadside death memorials that loved ones put up to mark the spot where someone has died. I created for myself a ritual/meditation where I go to an inner Descanso or Death Marker that signifies a time in my life when a part of me died and, together with Mictecacihuatl – who has been vigilantly keeping my bones safe, I raise that part of me up, dust her off, infuse her with life, love and forgiveness. Rebirth and reclamation, Baby! Part of the quest we all share to become whole and happy.
This has become, hands down, my favorite part of the last week in October. As far as I can tell, all my dead parts are now alive once again – having a grand old time together at the dance party of life. And, as Halloween nears, I figure that summoning the Goddess of Death to reanimate my bones is far less creepy than a middle aged woman dressing up and going door to door asking for candy. Just sayin’. Happy Halloween! Happy Day of the Dead! And Happy Reclaiming!