BY LIZ AXELROD
CURATED BY PATRICIA GRISAFI
This last year or so seems rife with loss. Angels have taken so many of our favorite icons: Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Chris Cornell, Alan Rickman, Sharon Jones, Chester Bennington, Harry Dean Stanton—the list seems endless. It’s hard not to want to follow them out of this crazed, stupid time.
Sometimes I just want to shut it all out and stew myself into a non-existent stupor. Instead, I look to the turning colors of the leaves, to the crisp air that wakes and clears the cobwebs, to thoughts of making room for new buds come spring. The cycle of life, the circles of existence call me to renew. With that comes October’s wondrous days of magic, costume, and the opening of the veil—and the opportunity to take on other existences for fun.
Now is the time to reflect upon the invisible cloth that separates the living from the dead—the veil.
This is the time of year when the veil is at its sheerest.
Halloween’s traditions come from the Pagan ritual of Samhain. Ghosts and demons are said to be able to break through and meet us on our plane of existence. In ancient times, costumes were worn and sweets were put out to shield us from the dead returned to life. It was believed that if the dead couldn’t recognize you, they couldn’t hurt you. Though the wigs, masks, and makeup we use to transform ourselves are fun, they are not just for decoration.
Similarly, in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is both a sacred event as well as one for fun and play. The Day of the Dead is a centuries-old mixture of Spanish-Catholic and Mexican pre-indigenous beliefs. Families put on their most festive attire and paint their faces in homage to their lost ancestors. They have parades and parties at the cemetery and toast their departed family, hoping for a sign of their return. There is much wine that flows and even special bread made for the occasion. Pan De Muerto is especially delicious, and who doesn’t love the brilliant finery, jeweled skulls, and dancing skeletons. Those rich vibrant colors and costumes are a thrill to behold!
Beyond all that comes the need for contact with the other side. We each hold our own beliefs on this matter. If you are interested in testing out the realms and opening doors, here is a spell for you to try:
You’ll need a black and a white candle. You can also add a red one for love and a green one for prosperity if you plan on asking for aid. Feel free to anoint your candles with the scent or oil of your choice. If you have an altar, set it as you would normally or just set the candles upon a cleared spot strewn with a few precious items like crystals, gemstones or jewelry given to you by your loved one or reflecting the person you want to contact.
Sit quietly. Ground and center yourself by breathing in and out through your nose (deep Yoga Breath). Clear your mind of chatter. Think of your body as having roots with the Earth. It doesn’t matter what floor you are on, picture and feel the power of the Earth flowing through you, up from your tippy-toes to the top of your head. Let this power flow in, flow through, and flow out of you. As you breathe, close your eyes and picture a soft and vibrant waterfall of energy coming out from the top of your head. Recycle this energy up from your toes to your forehead and back as long as needed. When you feel calm and clear, open your eyes, and light the black candle.
Chant three times: Spirits hear my cry. I summon you from the other side. Come to me. Cross the great divide. Light the white Candle. Chant: By all the power of three times three, I ask you spirit to come to me. Not to bring harm on others, nor harm on me. As I do will, so mote it be.
Sit and listen. Welcome the spirit that answers your call with an open heart and positivity. Do not be afraid, do not look to the dark side here. This is a spell for light. Speak to your spirits. Ask for guidance, speak with love, and love will be returned.
You may be surprised at the answers you receive. They may not be readily apparent; you might not notice anything right away. Give it some time and you’ll see. You’ll wake from a dream with a solution and answers will pop into your head while walking down the street.
Dia De Los Muertos is the very best day to perform this ritual. Go forth and seek answers and solace from your ancestors and departed loved ones. There are spirit protectors and guides for all of us. Be open to the possibilities.
Me, I’m hoping for Leonard Cohen.
Liz Axelrod received her MFA from the New School in 2013. She writes poems, book reviews, essays, fiction and anything her pointed pen finger deems relevant. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Publisher’s Weekly, The Brooklyn Rail, Electric Literature, Counterpunch, Nap Magazine, Yes Poetry, The Ampersand Review, and more. Her Chapbook "Go Ask Alice" was chosen as a finalist in the 2015 Finishing Line Press New Woman's Voices Competition and will be published in March, 2016. She is an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Westchester Community College, a book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine, and co-host and curator of the Cedermere Reading Series in the home of William Cullen Bryant. Find her here: www.yourmoonsmine.com
Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a New York City-based freelance writer, editor, and former college professor. She is currently an Associate Editor at Ravishly and a contributing writer and editor at Luna Luna. Her work has appeared in Salon, Vice, Bitch, The Rumpus, Bustle, The Establishment, and elsewhere. Her short fiction is forthcoming in Tragedy Queens (Clash Books). She is passionate about pit bull rescue, cursed objects, horror movies, and designer sunglasses.