© Copyright 2011 Judy Jennings
Halloween is almost upon us, and just after that, my favorite local holiday. Fiesta de los Muertos is a Mexican-based celebration of those who have passed before, and the All Souls Procession is the Tucson version. Even though the event draws a big crowd these days, the procession retains an undeniable home-spun magic. On this evening, the Underworld of the collective human subconscious takes to the streets of the Old Pueblo.
This is the best costume event of the year in these parts, but it’s much more than that. Started in 1990, The All Souls Procession hasn’t become touristy or commercialized, but instead retains the authenticity of real human emotion and experience. According to the All Souls Procession web site, “What started out as an intimate personal expression is now an enormous hyper-creative vehicle for release and integration of grief and loss for many 10’s of thousands of individual participants”.
With that in the air, this seems like a good time to take a look at a couple of cards in particular. Let’s start with the Death card.
I think it’s fair to say that people can find the name of this arcana to be off-putting, so let’s clear something up right off the bat. This card isn’t about physical demise. There’s actually another card, the World, that is associated with moving on to a Universal state of consciousness and seems far more likely to indicate a person’s last days. However, there’s so much joy associated with that card that no one fears it. It represents Nirvana, and we all know that’s a good thing.
Death, on the other hand, is about loss and grief, and the incredibly transformative creative energy that can come out of that. In this case, Death is all about the living. The state of mind expressed in this card is that of a person who longs to connect with Universal Spirit. To feel an example of that longing in action, join in with the All Souls Procession, even if only for a few blocks.
The Devil is another card that is often given a bum rap, but he just thinks it’s funny. This card embodies the spirit of mirth and incongruity. Humor, generally provoked by shortcomings, produces laughter which has the power to purify the subconscious mind and infuse the human spirit with joy. That’s not only funny, it’s healing. The Devil also expresses the human longing for freedom and the first stage of spiritual enlightenment, where we begin to realize that our limitations are imaginary and self-imposed.
In a simple way, our customs around Halloween here in the United States play out that theme of longing to be free. Kids routinely dress up as super-heroes who possess powers stronger than school-yard bullies and their parents put together. Seemingly large numbers of men dress up annually as women, having been granted a license on Halloween they're denied the rest of the year. This is a holiday whose soul has long been commercialized, but even so, vestiges of true incongruity remain.
The forces embodied in The Devil tout the idea that we are victims of circumstance, but if you look closely you will find clues about ways to free ourselves from that belief. The Devil also tells us that happiness is a choice.