Friday, October 14, 2016

Masking and UNmasking

Isn't it interesting how the masking and unmasking we do at costume parties mirrors what is going on in the world around us? The green leaves that sprouted in spring and came to fullness in summer now turn colors and fall to the ground, leaving only the skeletons of the trees contrasted against the sky. 

During the year people see us in different ways. One mask might be our professional status, the face which others see as we present ourselves as skilled individuals. Another face is our personal self where we engage in our relationships, hobbies, activities and other pursuits. Then we have our spiritual persona where we follow our spiritual path or our religious rituals. 

Yet, at the heart of it all, there is simply the person who embodies all of this. Where others may see only one of these aspects of us, few see all of them. 

Standing in our sacred space, reflecting on our place in the world, we choose which aspect of our persona we choose to present next. Consciously choosing what is next we may emphasize a different aspect of our professional practice, relationships, avocations and spiritual practices. 

So the metaphor of masks at parties reveals truth. The characters we choose to inhabit for an evening at a party is a playful way of trying on some other character or characteristics that we wish to experience. 

The masks we wear may be revealing the truth of the direction we desire. Yes, I know that one thought may be that this is only an evening's entertainment.

Now look again, for there is a root of truth that appeals to us when we choose to read the same kinds of books, the same kinds of movies and are fascinated by the same kinds of stories over and over again. There are common threads that appeal to our sense of who we are and what kind of world we want what kind of life we want, how we would like to see ourselves as a person. 

Masking is a way of looking at the world through different eyes for a while and letting others see us differently for a while. As we all have experienced, this can be very enlivening and enlightening. And that is why we look forward to doing it. 

Knowing this about ourselves is revealing of inner truths as we enjoy our revelry. Knowing this about Halloween is like appreciating the difference between soul cakes and trick or treat.

You see in the old days, at Halloween, visitors would come to visit and sing songs, say prayers or tell stories about those who had died this year and the hosts would offer them soul cakes and drinks in appreciation. The Celts called this day Samhain and it marked the beginning of winter. They would also set a place at the table for the person who had died, and this was called the dumb supper.

Ironically, in a far a way country which we now call Mexico, on that very same day of the year, the Celebration was called La Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. And on this day too, the dead were honored with their favorite food and people told stories to remember them and wish them well on their journey into the next world, and like the Celts, they also bake special breads just for this holiday.

In both cases, the honoring of the dead was also a celebration of life. The Day of the Dead prominently features skeletons dancing, affirming that life goes on on another level. 

So the sweetness of life and the recognition of the various levels of self that we consider on this holiday offers a great insight into what life means to us, how we see ourselves and the impact we have on others. Masks and treats of this holiday are other aspects of self hidden in plain sight. And the pleasure is that all of this can be enjoyed with a great deal of fun, illumination and imagination. It is delicious, isn't it? 

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