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THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, now of the Magic and Mundane channel).

Named #6 in the top15 Pagan podcasts for 2022! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/

Samhain/Hallows 2022

October 24, 2022

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com





Mark: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark,

Yucca: And I'm the other one Yucca.

Mark: and welcome to the Halloween season. This is the season when we celebrate Hallows, or whatever you choose to call it. It's a wonderful witchy holiday that we, pagans really enjoy. It's both fun and and kind of wacky and creative and as well as deep and meaningful and solemn.

And it's just a really good time all the way around. So, this is our episode to talk about how we celebrate that holiday and what it means to us.

Yucca: Right. So welcome. So there's a lot to this.

Mark: There is.

Yucca: Yeah. So I guess we should start with what and when is this holiday?

Mark: Ah, right. Okay. Well, you first, what do you think it is and when?

Yucca: Well, I, for me, it's, it's a little fuzzy on both levels. So there are two holidays that overlap with each other. For me. There is Halloween and then there's Hollows or second Autumn or sowing. I'm not really sure. What name? It's a little bit fluid there. But there's the, the kind of secular Halloween, which is just a celebration of the autumn spooky candy, you know, family fun stuff.

And then there's also the, the season that we're in, which is this time. Remembering the ancestors honoring of death of the sunset of the year. Really this going into truly going into the cold, dark time of the year. And I know that when we were at Solstice, yes, we kind of flipped over or the Equinox is, is getting closer, but now it really is the cold of.

In my climate, we almost always get our first snow as the kids are trick or treating

That's what it happens, right? Is the kids are out trick or treating and it snows on them. So it, it's, it's a, Halloween is the 31st, but the other holiday is kind of around that time when it feels. When it feels right for me, right When we, we kind of do the holidays at the closest day, that works for us.

We're not too worried about getting the exact moment because it's not like the solstice where the solstice I set an alarm for, right? The moment of the solstice and you know, sometimes that's gonna be two 15 in the morning. I'll just wake up, see some solstice and go back, sleep or, you know, that kind of thing.

But with this it's a little bit more wiggle room. So what about for you?

Mark: Well, I, I think we have some similarities, but some differences. I have a little bit more formal definition of when the holiday is. I consider this holiday to be a week long.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And it extends from the 31st through the seventh of Octo of November, which is when the actual midpoint is between the Equinox and the solstice.

Yucca: It's my littlest birthday actually. Yes, he's our little saw and

Mark: so, so official sown is, is is when your little one's birthday is. That's great. So, and I agree with you. On Halloween, we celebrate the secular holiday, which is the candy and the costumes and the, but it's still got all those thematic pieces wrapped up in it, right? It's all the death imagery all of the sort of scary monsters, most of whom have to do with coming back to life after being dead, which is something that we have a, a real aversion to apparently.

Yucca: Discomfort. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah, there, that's, that's just not supposed to happen.

Yucca: Yeah. There and there's that transformation both in like coming back from the dead, but the Halloween, the costumes and stuff have this, You get to be somebody else as well

Mark: Right,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. You get to be somebody else. And often the way that that expresses itself is as. Kind of the darker side of your personality or the sexier side of your personality. Things that you don't feel necessarily comfortable to express all the time, but there's this day when you're given permission to be able to do that kind of stuff.

And that's really important. I mean, I feel like we need more days like that. And people can dress up weird and not be judged for it. So. The, that's the secular part with the, with the candy and the decorations and all that kind of stuff. But then the rest of the week is the more solemn, kind of contemplative part where there's time to think about those that have died and are gone.

And there's time to reflect on my own mortality and update my death packet, which we talked about a couple of weeks ago. Do all that. Mortality oriented work that that I just feel is necessary and this is the right time of year to do it. And then on the first weekend of November, which is typically, I mean, it's typically like the sixth, seventh, fifth, somewhere in there is when my circle holds its sound ritual. we've, this will be our 33rd so, and Ritual in a row one of which was online because of Covid. But other than that, we've done them in person. And and I'll talk about that when we talk about rituals, but that's the more solemn observance really kind of encounter with death.

Yucca: Yeah. And this doesn't seem to be for either of our practices, but for many pagans, this is also the new year.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: So there's different points at which you can start the year, and for some this is, is that that point?

Mark: Right. And, and I think that from. I mean, certainly from the standpoint of my orientation to the Wheel of the Year, there's a real logic to starting there because, you know, the, the process of decomposition and then reassembly of new life is metaphorically represented by the the Hallows holiday, right? So this time between now and Yule is the time when the decomposition and recomposition is happening, and then Yule is.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So there's a logic there, but for me it's just too hard to try to address new New Years in November.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: so much easier just to say that my new year is at the winter solstice, which is only about 10 days before the the secular.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Calendar New year. It just is a lot easier to deal with. If I have a New Year's Eve party on November 6th, everybody's gonna look at me funny.

But if I have a New Year's Eve party somewhere, you know, in the neighborhood of the solstice, then that makes a little more sense.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and, and I can also certainly see the logic that people have for us, it, it doesn't feel like that as much because this is the time of the year where we've been getting ready for this time of the year. We have the. It doesn't feel like we're starting new yet. It's like this is what we've been preparing for, right?

This is, we've got all the harvests, this is stored up, and as we keep going through the months, well then, you know, we get to, to using up our stores of wood and our stores of food and, and that's quite on the literal side, but we could use that metaphorically as well. And so for me, starting anew when things are kind of bare.

You know, either the calendar year or even more towards spring really starts to feel like a new year to me.

Mark: Mm.

Yucca: So,

Mark: Yeah, I, I can see that. And of course the thing is time is time is linear, right? Time just goes on. So, you know, we, and the earth, because of our seasonal cycles, it moves in cycles. So there's any point that you put down on the, the 365 and a quarter days that we have in a given revolution around the sun and say that's the beginning has, is inherently arbitrary.

Yucca: sure.

Mark: I mean, it can't be any more arbitrary than January 1st, which makes, Absolutely has no astronomical relation or anything. I'm sure there's something about the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar that moved New Year's Eve from

Yucca: Well, that's why Christmas and solstice aren't on the same point. Right? And then, and then the way that the months shifted, right? Because the astronomical months, like in terms of lining up the zodiac with our months, they don't quite fit. And then we have to remember. You know, Earth's orbit isn't actually circular in terms of how much we spend in each of the constellations and so I don't know why, but

Mark: Yeah. I mean, it's my point being that it's all kind of arbitrary and so, you know, whatever works for you. That's great. For me, doing New Years now just doesn't make as much sense. Especially because this holiday is so much about endings, you know, And I, I think it's a little, it's a little abrupt and peremptory to say, Okay, we're done with endings.

Happy New year. I think this, this season is important enough and the processes that it commemorates are important enough that having a whole, what is it? Seven weeks, between seven, eight weeks between the holiday and you'll

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: to really kind of let this, the meanings of this season settle in, you know, to reflect on them, to write about them, to think about them.

You know that that miraculous process that's happening in the soil right now, which is all of the decomposers are going nuts with all the leaves, the leaves they're being fed, and the water they're getting that they weren't getting before and all that kind of thing I think speaks to a level of being appropriate to recognize decomposition as really what?

What's the main gain happening at this time of year in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere?

Yucca: Right. And I'm glad that you that you bring that up, right? Because we are speaking from, even though we are from different climates, we're still from this closer to each other. So we're both in temperate, northern hemisphere. Whereas, you know, life is gonna be very different and tropics or southern hemisphere, or if you get farther towards the poles, like it, it really changes over earth.

So every place that you are is going to be d. So, Yeah.

Mark: Yep. That's, that is so, so that, that's when, and and what we call it I mean, I've heard some other names for this season, but, and I prefer halls because it's not, it's just an English word. It's not Halloween because Halloween is kind of the secular holiday with trick or treating and all that kind of stuff.

And Hallows sounds much more sort of solemn and goy, I guess.

Yucca: Yeah, but it still is similar enough that there's the, those same sort of themes going on.

Mark: Right. And I don't use the, the Celtic word because I'm not of that derivation, and I'm trying not to, in my particular practice, I'm trying not to draw on any particular cultural frame. So I'm not I'm not appropriating I'm just. Just doing something that started in around the, around the turn of the 21st century with some old folkloric practices kind of drawn in and one item of appropriation, which is the Wheel of the Year, which was invented in the 1950s.

So I don't feel too badly about it.

Yucca: well invented, but but heavily drawing on multiple. Different cultures, traditions, right? They, they took you know, some of the Celtic festivals and Germanic and you know, and they, and the names themselves. You look at their, their mixes from lots of different languages. So, and then that was just sort of stuck together.


Mark: Yeah. And, and that's all, you know. Fair enough. I mean, I, I think, I think the success of the Wheel of the Year as a kind of near universal, I mean, I can't speak to North Heat folks or etic folks or whatever, but in my experience of the Pagan community of North America, the Wheel of the year is a near universal cycle of holidays that are celebrated

Yucca: Well, I think because it's so grounded in. What's happening with the Earth?

Mark: in reality. Yeah.

Yucca: it's not just arbitrary, right? We don't just pick a day, you know, this day it's, well, why we've got the, the solstice, we've got the equinoxes, we've got the transition between them which is, John has talked about often about it being, you know, the, the temperature shifts rather than what's going on with.


Mark: Right, Right. Yeah. And so that's why I think it's so successful because it is grounded in reality. And I wouldn't have adopted it for AOP Paganism if it wasn't grounded in reality because my whole thing was, let's do a paganism that's grounded in reality,

Yucca: Hm. Yeah. Now there's wiggle rooms though, right? When you talk about the particular dates, right? When we are saying May 1st or October 31st, you know, those aren't necessarily the actual midpoints and which midpoint are we using, right? Are we using the, the midpoint in the orbit or are we using the midpoint in the days?

Like how are we doing that? So there's, you know, there's wiggle room.

Mark: Right, For sure. So having established that the whole thing is kind of fuzzy. Let's talk a little bit about kind of themes and practices and all that good kind of stuff.

Yucca: Yeah. So looking at Halls in particular, are we gonna talk about Halloween first?

Mark: Well, I suspect that our listeners probably have a pretty good grasp on what Halloween is about.

Yucca: I think so, yeah.

Mark: And I'm, and I, I mean, I love Halloween. I just, I think it's wonderful. I love all the decorations and the, the, the imagery and all that good kind of stuff. So, and I love dressing up in costumes and I love, you know, playing characters and all that kind of stuff.

So it's, it's definitely been a holiday that resonates a lot for. But I think it makes more sense to talk about the, the more solemn and kind of reverential side of this holiday season. You know, we, we just had an episode about ancestors and recognizing ancestors and and about death, about confronting mortality and You know, remembering those that are gone.

In our, and we've, we've talked about this before in our naturalistic approach to cosmology, we don't see compelling evidence to believe in an afterlife,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: so we don't believe in one. And what that means is that that death is it's the.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: a very serious thing to contemplate. You know, we have these lives that are so precious to us, and knowing that they're going to end sets the stage for everything else, it creates the context for all the decisions we make.

Yucca: Hmm. Yeah. So as we've been talking about for the last few weeks, these. Themes that we're thinking about both our own death, the deaths of others, the those beloved dead that, that are gone already, right?

Mark: Right. Yeah. And so, You know, this, this is the time. Like, and not, not necessarily just in the last cycle. I mean, certainly if you've had losses within the last cycle that the, the herd of that is most vivid because it's most recent.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And so, you know, lighting a candle or lighting candles, you know, for those that you've lost is, it can be a very meaningful thing, you know, reviewing the pictures.

Of of the, the people that you've lost and remembering the times that you had with them together. And in this case, I'll say people in a, in a very general and vague sense, people, you know, including cats and dogs and, you

Yucca: Yeah. People, not just humans, but people. Yeah.

Mark: I mean, I have a practice that includes some recognition of that on an, on an ongoing basis because of my evening ritual where I light a candle on my underworld focus and say the honored dead every night.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And that is as much to remind myself that I'm going to die as it is about anyone else who. It's, it's really just about keeping me grounded in the fact of my mortality and that I need to, if there's stuff I want to do, I need to get going on it because time is short.

Yucca: Right, And as we said so many times, we don't know how much time we have.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: We know that it's limited, but we don't know if it's tomorrow or if it's in 20 years, 50 years, whatever it is,

Mark: Yeah. I have an acquaintance who three months ago, Suddenly got a diagnosis of stage three pancreatic cancer,

Yucca: Wow.

Mark: and so he's gonna be gone really soon.

Yucca: Yeah 

Mark: barring, barring an extremely unlikely

Yucca: it's, It's very rare. Yeah.

Mark: Really rare.

Yucca: That's how my father-in-law went.

Mark: Oh

Yucca: It was just, it was a matter of months.

Mark: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. So, And, you know, I mean, he had some, he'd had some dietary complaints and some you know, kind of abdominal discomfort, but nothing particularly serious and went to the doctor and next thing he knows he's dying.

So these are things that can happen to us. They, they happen to people and we are people. You know, one of the things that is really important to try to get your head around in contemplating your mortality is that you're not special indifferent when it comes to mortality. I know you've been the protagonist of your, your movie since the time you were born, but the truth is that life will kill off the main character.

That's just you.

Yucca: all, all stories end.

Mark: Yes, con consider life to be, you know, the, the process of life to be the George r r Martin of of your personal movie . Just, just cuz you're an important character doesn't mean you get out alive.

Yucca: So that's one of the really big themes here, right? And that and remembering our own and the one and the people close to us that sometimes feel almost like us. At times, right?

Mark: Yes. That it's unimaginable that they could ever be gone.

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: And my encouragement at this time of year is well imagine it, you know, 

Yucca: that won't make it happen sooner.

Mark: won't make it happen sooner, and it won't, and it probably won't make it any less painful when it does happen. But it will make you more able to grapple with it when it does happen. I mean, I've known people who have been impacted by the death of a parent, and they've just been so crushed, just so devastated that like inconsolable When the truth is, if you live to be a decent age, this is something kind of to be expected. You know, we, we, we all run outta time and they do too. So, you can help yourself by by these contemplations.

I know the, the Tibetan Buddhists have elaborate meditations. your own death about the death of those around you, about I mean the impermanence of your society. They, they're nothing if not thorough. 

Yucca: I think that, that all of this just for me highlights just how precious life is, the moments that we have and, and helps to, to act as. It's almost like a filter to help us filter out what matters and what doesn't. What am I wasting my time on? And so, and also having some comfort in the memories, right?

Thinking about the, whoever it was and the, in the wonderful things of that, right? So there's, there's the solemness to it, but there's. There's also a little, this, this quiet joy underneath it.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think about the Irish tradition of the wake and there's a lot of laughter at awake,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: you know, because people are telling stories of the the one who's dead. And a lot of those are funny stories, happy stories,

Yucca: What happened at the pub, right?

Mark: exactly. So you remember that time when and and that's.

That's all very very much to be embraced and encouraged because grief, I, I heard a great synopsis of grief once, which is grief is love with nowhere to go,

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: and I think. When we revisit those stories about the people when they were alive, we're able to feel some of the love that we have for them, you know, there for, for an instant there because we're living in a memory rather than in the current moment.

There is a place for the love to go and I think that that is very helpful when we think about funerary rights. Which we talked about when we did a right, A Rite of Passage

Yucca: Oh, it's been a couple years at this point.

Mark: been a long time ago. We might wanna revisit

Yucca: I think so. Yeah.

Mark: of passage again.

Yucca: I think that probably is still in 2020,

Mark: Oh

Yucca: right? This has been quite a while.

Mark: that is quite a while cuz we're numbing up on 2023.

Yucca: Yep. Wow.

Mark: yeah. So, Yeah, when you think about that and we think about funeral rights, those are for the living.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Hopefully they're conducted in accordance with the wishes of the one who has died. But in some cases, you kind of have to overrule the dead person. In my opinion, particularly when the dead person says, I don't want any ceremony, I don't want any memorial, I don't want, you know, any, anything.

You know, the reality is the people who survive you, they need that. And whether or not you wanted something or not, it's probably a good idea that somebody organized something like that.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: So, 

Yucca: funny thing is at that point, it's not actually about you anymore.

Mark: that's, You're the subject or you're the object, but you're not the subject. Right? You're, you're no longer capable of being a subject. So it's it's important, you know, that we, that we revisit those memories. And one of the things that we can do at this time of year is to revisit memories of those that we've lost and what we've lost in the way of relationships. Career steps things that we loved in our life that are no longer there, or that we feel like it's time to put down and move away from. Th this is the time to do it. And so there are lots and lots of pagans all over the place. Casting casting what they are finished with into fires, either metaphorically or.

Yucca: Or quite literally

Mark: Written on paper or

Yucca: in a cauldron.

Mark: in, in, in a flaming Cauldron. Yes. And, and there will be during that week between Halloween and the first weekend in November, all over North America. Certainly.

Yucca: mm-hmm.

Mark: It's good to have a time of year that is for that. Because so much of the rest of the year is really focused on growth and goals and

Yucca: Doing, doing.

Mark: and then harvesting, which is a bunch more doing, and, and all of that is so important because right, we need, we need to do things in our lives.

But there also comes a time when, you know, you recognize that the crop didn't. Or it basically failed and you cut down what is there and you composted.

Yucca: Yeah. And that it's okay to rest it's time. To rest, and that's the other half for us, is in my family's tradition, is that we look at this as the, the beginning of night, the end of the year, the sunset. Right. It's the end of the year, but it's not the beginning of the new year

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: Right. It's okay. The, the annual season is, is gone now it's time.

The, the plants are dying back many. Our annuals and they die back, and the perennial ones are going dormant, and it's just time to go, Okay, the day is done, the year is done. I accept what was and what

Mark: Mm, mm-hmm.

Yucca: here I am now.

Mark: Right? Right. And that, that. Corresponds exactly to my way of viewing the year as mapped along the arc of a human life. Right. You know, middle age is at the autumnal equinox, and then, or I'm sorry, Elderhood is at the autumnal equinox and then deaf at Halls. And then there's this period leading up to Yule, which is the part that we never see of the life cycle, cuz we're not alive during it.

Or if we're alive, we're in a, you know, a zygote form. And not conscious enough to be aware of anything going on. But but there's all kinds of amazing stuff happening there. I mean, we're going to, we're, we're gonna talk about decomposition here, coming up I guess in our next episode.

Yucca: Yep. Next week. Yep.

Mark: And the disassembly of what used to be alive and the reassembly of it by life into more of itself is it's this astounding trick that life does here on earth.

It's, it's, I mean, you know, we think of, you know, the, the incredible scientific leap of Dr. Frankenstein, right? Who's able to, Take what's dead and turn it into something living again. Well, that's what life does all the time,

Yucca: Yeah, that's what it is.

Mark: all the time. That's, that's, that is life. That's what the process is. So it's, it's a great time to recognize that, you know, death comes and, you know, then it's, it's time.

It's the end. Time, the, the day is over and it's time to either go dormant and wait for another cycle, or it's time to be disassembled and created into something else. And so going dormant and taking that rest time is really important. I think about all the Scandinavian countries that have these traditions of, you know, huddling up and putting on a fire and reading books.

I, I know Christmas Day is a day of reading books in Iceland.

Yucca: Hmm

Mark: it's traditional to give one another socks. So you have nice, warm feet and there you are, and you sort of huddle up and read books and it's, and that just sounds like a great time.

Yucca: That's, that's what we do with the whole Yule season. I love it so much.

Every day is about warm, fuzzy socks and hot, you know, nice hot bone broth and the fire crackling and

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: cuddling kitties. So yeah, looking forward to that. There's always that, that bit of looking forward to the next season to.

Mark: Yes. Yes.

Yucca: enjoying this one, but going, Oh, put just around the corner. We have that, That wonderful. The snuggle season.

Mark: Right. Right. Yeah. And so that's another thing that sort of sweetens the bitter pill of, of the Death Sabbath

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: is knowing that, well, yes. Okay. We're facing some very, very hard realities right now. Which we need to because we are mortal beings and you know, if we're gonna have a reality based practice, I go back to that again, then we're gonna acknowledge that we're temporary and that this is gonna happen to us.

But just on the other side of that season is this wonderful celebration of family and connection and friends and loved ones. You know, eating sweets and eating too much and drinking too much, and just having a, a lovely, a lovely time kind of stowing in the last calories that we possibly can before the super cold arrives,

Yucca: Right. Hmm. And if your, if your climate gets it, the snow,

Mark: right?

Yucca: so yeah.

Mark: We get a little bit of snow on top of this. The, the peaks around. Every four or five years. But that's it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Who knows what's gonna happen with global warming now?

Yucca: Yeah. We get, Yeah. Go on.

Mark: so why don't we talk about rituals cuz we haven't actually talked about what we do specifically at this time of year. And I, I was gonna tell the story about my circle sow and, but I was wondering what do you do for your, for your hallows ritual or sown ritual?

Yucca: Yeah, well, I have a, a personal one that I do, and we haven't really developed a full family one yet. And that, that I think is developing, you know, as, as the kids get older, they get to a point where they can. Different parts of life and reality kind of start to, to set in. And so we'll, we'll see what happens this year.

But it's also an extremely busy time of year for us. Lots of birthdays and, and following itself and, and all of that. But so in, maybe in next year or the year after, I might have something different to say about what we do with the kids. But for me, I choose an evening around this time, and this is really the, the, the big one for me where I go out and I sit outside in the garden.

And at this point it's crispy. Right. The guard. There's, there's not, maybe there's a few of the leafy greens kind of trying to peek out. But I leave, I leave it all. I haven't cleared it out. And I leave a lot of the, the plants till the spring anyways because of, that's where a lot of the insects will over winter.

Right. And I wanna, you know, leave that habitat for them. But I'll sit out and I do not like to be cold . I'm one of those people, you know, if you're seeing the, the recording here I am sitting in my sleeping bag with a little hot water bottle at the c at it with my sweater on. But I'll go out without my big coat on.

And so that I am cold. And I will feel that cold on my skin and sit down and, and have a, you know, a personal kind of meditation or journey and just allow myself to feel that cold as the sun setss and just be out in the that cold. Brown crinkled garden, watching the very first stars come out as the sun sets away and just let myself, let all those things go, all those things that, that it's time to let them go from the year.

Those fights that I had, that, you know, I've been holding on to and the things that, that didn't work out, the dreams, that didn't work out, the, you know, all of that stuff and just. Let it go. It's, it's gone. It's going. It's dead. It's going to bed. Whatever's happening to it, I've released it and accept it. Yeah.

Mark: That's wonderful. That reminds me a little bit of a thing that we do at UL every year, which is to sit out with a cup of something warm, but. To, to sit out in the cold for about a half an hour or so and just feel the air temperature feel,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: feel the cold and dark before we bring the light back into the house. So my circle, as I said, has been getting together for since 1991, this will be our 33rd. Sow and ritual, which is just shocking to me. I don't know how that ever happened, but everybody who was in the circle to begin with is still there. And plus a couple more. Three, three more. And this, we've done some variety of this every year for many, many, many years.

The circle started on, on Halloween night. In 1991. So it's, it's also,

Yucca: work for that?

Mark: Yeah, because I mean count, count 1, 2, 3, Right? It's like this will be the first,

Yucca: I was born in 89 and I'm 33 now, but I guess it's because this is the final anyways

Mark: is the, this is the next

Yucca: year. Yeah. So this is the next, Okay.

Mark: Right. This is, this starts the next cycle.

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: Yeah. So it's 33. The, and what we do is we build a focus, a big altar next to a, a fire circle where there's a fire laid but not lit. And the, the focus has jackal lanterns on it that are.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So it's glowing and there's all these symbols and bones and skulls and things all over that. And previously we, it was just a raked circle that we made. This is, this is at the home of friends of ours who have forested land, Redwood land. And this is an open clearing where we do this behind their house. And, and previously we just, you know, raked the circle and set it up that way. In recent years, it's a circle of chairs,

Yucca: Sure

Mark: Because we've gotten to the point where many of us really need a chair and are not gonna stand up for

Yucca: Well, we had an episode about that recently, right? About thinking about who is part of your ritual and what are the different needs of the people in that

Mark: Exactly. Yeah. And it I mean, I have to say it did feel like somewhat of a concession at some level. To me it was like, Oh boy, we're getting old, but we're getting old . So there's not a lot to be said about it.

Yucca: Didn't you say you were the youngest or

Mark: I am, I'm the, I'm the youngest. I'm the youngest in the group. And the oldest is 86, 85,

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: something like that.

So, yeah, I mean, and most of the folks are in their sixties or seventies, but you know, we, when we first got together, I was in my twenties, so it's just been a long time. So we get together and then we we do a ritual that's about kind of letting go. Letting go of the things that we no longer need.

Letting go of life, letting go of letting go of our physical, you know, letting, letting go of, of, be, of existing in essence. And then, Yes. And we sing a couple of songs and we love to sing together and we harmonize together really beautifully. So it's really an enjoyable thing that we love to do. And then we, when we're ready, march down to down through the forest and it's very dark down to a dark place that we've designated as the land of the. And there we call out to those that we've lost and want to communicate with, and we talk to them. We, we tell them that we're sorry to lose them, and we tell them that we miss them and we tell them that we love them and all those kinds of things.

In most cases, when my father died, it was a little different. We do that for quite some time until the, the cold starts kind of seeping into our bones and it starts to feel a little too comfortable being there in the land of the dead. And that's the cue that we need to get up and get out of there.

Because otherwise we might stay and that wouldn't be good. So, we make our way back to the, to the fire circle and we light the fire. I use a sprigg of U Tree that I've gathered from a cemetery nearby on Halloween the previous year. So because you know, if I use this year's it would be too green and it wouldn't actually light.

So the last year's U Spri is sitting on my focus right now drying and that's what I'll use to light the. And then we share chocolate and wine and pomegranate and sing some more and sing about how happy we are to be alive. And we come back into the joyfulness of this existence, temporary as it is, and how glad we are to be with one another.

And then, you know, after, after a while that all kind of peters out and we go inside and have a great big, huge. And enjoy each other's company. And we do that as a, as a stay over event. So we all

Yucca: drive home or

Mark: right. Exactly. We can, we can hang out and get in the hot tub or whatever and just have a really nice time with one another for that whole, that whole weekend.

Yucca: Oh, that's amazing.

Mark: It's so lovely and so transformative and you wouldn't think that after doing it so many times that it would be. But every year there are different losses, there are different things to speak to, different circumstances, and we change right from year to year as people we change.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, thinking three decades of change.

Mark: yes. Yes. So it's, it's a really profound thing and it's not a complicated ritual.

And you can, you can, you could do this ritual without having a dark place in the forest to walk to. You could do that as a visualization. Do it as a guided meditation instead. So just, you know, if you, if the space you have is a living room, you could do it right there. You could do it, you know, start in total darkness.

You know, do your early, you know, except for maybe, you know, a jackal lantern lit with an l e d candle or whatever. If you don't wanna set off your smoke alarm and you could then do the voyage to the land of the dead. And you could, you could embellish that much more than we can in real life.

You could row across the river, sticks to the island of apples and, you know, meet your ancestors and stuff. There's all kinds of cool things you can do in a mental journey.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: So, there's nothing proprietary about what we're doing. If this ritual sounds like it's appealing to you, go ahead and.

Yucca: Yeah. And really anything that we share on the podcast, that's, that's, if it's works for you and it sounds like it's something that you wanna try out, please do.

Mark: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, the reason we produce this podcast is for you, the listeners, to provide ideas, resources, thinking opinion. Take it or leave it, you know, whatever, whatever value you can get out of what we're providing, you know, we're, we're happy to, to provide it. So that's, that's hellos, that's, that's the, the Halloween sew hellos sab it season.

Yucca: Yep.

Mark: And we hope that you have a, Happy, cheery, spooky, goofy, sexy, solemn, reflective

Yucca: chilly.

Mark: silly, meaningful passage of the season because it is and can be all of those things at one time or another.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, thank you everybody.

Mark: Thank you. We'll see you next week.