Friday, October 30, 2009

Day of the Dead

We enter now deeper into the holy day season, starting with the Jewish high holy days, then coming now into the Pagan one of Shamain , the Celtic new year, which the Christian's then took over as All Hallow's eve.

Nowhere in this hemisphere is this reunion between the dead and the living celebrated quite so deeply as among the descendants of the West African slaves in Haiti. See this interesting first hand account from a foreign perspective here

I first saw a taste of this when I lived in Grenada. On the day of Halloween, the women would assemble in the graveyards, which were mostly above ground mausoleums, whitewashed, with nominal crosses on them. They carried buckets of water, scrub brushes, clorox, and if they could afford it, white wash and brushes. All day they would prepare and clean the graveyard. Because all night that night, most of the adults would gather there, candles lit, rum bottles and drums in hand to dance and sing along with their ancestors who had passed along.

The author in the piece above states that Christianity is monotheistic while Voodoo is polytheistic. One could argue that Christianity is based on some sort of bizarre trinity and every Haitian that I have met worships and acknowledges Bon Dwye, who is merely too busy to come visit, and so daily life is entrusted to a variety of other spirits. And certainly Christianity is all wound up in the issue of a living and dead God - sort of the central theme.

Voodoo, like paganism, does include a wild streak of sexuality in it which sets it apart from most other religions which appear intent in separating spirit from flesh. The entire operation of "possession" is to lend one's body to the spirits so that they can enjoy the senses. To me, that it what makes both of them so very scary and "demonic" to Christians---that ready acceptance of sexuality-- which is just, well. inferior to the virgin birth and all.

Those who have been present at a tent revival meeting of protestants, seen people speaking in tongues, and even taken Quaking by the Spirit at a Quaker Meeting can attest to the power of the Spirit, no matter what the name.

Enjoy the holiday. Do not forget that it is a sacred day. Remember the Dead on their day.

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