October is the countdown month to Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead on November 1st, the day after Halloween. Skeletons, orange marigolds and sugar candy skulls have slipped into the mainstream Halloween weekend decor as Dia de los Muertos gains ground nationally paired with the rise of Latinos’ increasing political and economic clout.
It wasn’t always this way. I was raised Catholic in Southern California during the 1960’s, when Halloween and All Saints Day were the norm. All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls Day on November 2nd where the Catholic/Christian stand-ins for what some Christians consider the more pagan roots of the Day of the Dead celebration.
Despite my early indoctrination, I embraced Dia de los Muertos as an adult when my religious beliefs became my own. It became an especially significant holiday for me beginning in my early 30’s, when I realized that a pattern had formed the prior 10 years of my life. Though the world is a mystical place 24/7, October is for me, a month of particularly unusual events.
Basically, the weird, mystical and synchronistic enter my life more often in October. A letter lost in the mail for three years from a deceased cousin arrives in October. I toured an historic home in Espanola, New Mexico during October and when I entered the sala/living room I was met with a vision straight from a repetitive dream I’d had during my entire pregnancy three years earlier. During October of the following year, I learned that my ancestors where the family who had built that historic home. Standing in an airport another October I hear my name and a man I last saw 30 years earlier as a boy on the school bus introduces himself. Octobers have filled the well of my psyche for the year to come.
October is the month of preparation for Dia de los Muertos. To prepare, I take an extra effort to listen as the spirits of my ancestors visit me in October. I expect them to leave me with an epiphany or revelation about the course of my soul. Or maybe just a new “old” friend. This year felt a bit different. I didn’t feel like I was getting any new insights or revelations and the month was counting down.
This October, my epiphany came last night in a dream on Halloween night, the eve of Dia de los Muertos. I had a dream about death and falling. The dream sat me straight up in bed from a deep sleep. It also let me know that I had passed through a significant portal. I was happy. My dreams were changing. Parts of the old me that no longer served my growth and happiness had moved on.
Years ago, I was camping with friends and awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of laughter. I had no idea until then that my friend, Eddy, laughed regularly in his sleep. His wife assured me that he often woke her up with his sleep-laughing at the beginning of their relationship, but after a few years she was used to it. To me, sleep-laughing was a revelation. I had heard of it and even experienced a few laughs here and there, but consistently giggling with happiness while dreaming most nights of the week was a new to me.
There is a kind of success in that type of joy. Though Eddy passed in an accident a few years ago, I find myself thinking about his sleep-laughter. I am ready for new dreams. I can feel them coming.