All Souls Day: Day of the Dead

Despite growing up in a Catholic country, I have different beliefs when it comes to Catholic teachings. For a while, I considered myself a “Selective Catholic”, in other words, believing certain aspects but not others. Now I consider myself more of a spiritualist, in the sense that I believe in an afterlife (perhaps not in the way Catholics are taught to), I always have. And it is this belief that has made me fascinated by All Souls Day.

Catholicism teaches us that All Souls Day is a day to remember the dead, especially loved ones, by praying for their souls to be cleansed or purified so that they can enter heaven. Purgatory, it is essentially called, but which differs from the purgatory that leads to hell. Unless it falls on a Sunday, Catholics are not expected to go to mass, but instead they visit the graves of those they have lost, leaving flowers and perhaps sprinkling holy water. The souls must be purged of their sins and be in God’s good grace in order to enter heaven, and this is where the living come in. They pray for the souls.

My own theory of All Souls Day came from my mother, and which is also a pagan belief. I believe, or at least I like to believe, that All Souls Day is a day when the veil between the living and the dead is thinner. It sounds eerie, but I look at it as something special, the idea of seeing your deceased loved ones on one day of the year. The pagans believe that candles should be placed in the windows of houses in order to lead the dead to them so that they can share a meal together.

I have wondered why I believe so much in All Souls Day, perhaps it is to lessen my fear of death, or perhaps I live in hope of seeing my loved ones so I can say the things I wanted to say to them when it was too late. Will I be leaving a lit candle in my window? Probably not (fire hazard!). Who is it I hope to see? This may be against any belief system in All Souls Day, but I hope to see my pets that I have lost over the years.

We may never know for certain if the dead return to us, even just for a moment, but I choose to believe because, in simple terms, you have to believe in something. Don’t you?

Sources

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/all-souls-day-2015-dates-facts-and-traditions_56340865e4b0c66bae5ca0b5

http://www.theholidayspot.com/all_souls_day/history.htm

You Can’t Google It

When I was in secondary school, around fifteen or sixteen, I was awoken by my mother at 7.50am as usual and told “ten minutes” to allow myself to wake up. So I curled up on my pillow and rested my sleep-filled eyes. Then I heard it.

“Lauren.”

It was a whisper. I couldn’t tell if it was male or female but what I was certain of was that it was right next to me. It couldn’t have been my mother, she was downstairs, my dad was in work, and my brother and sister weren’t home. I opened my eyes immediately and noticed my dog Sheba turning her head like she would when she heard something interesting. She was looking at nothing. I immediately told my mother, but due to my teenage angst phase, she didn’t believe me and assumed I was trying to get attention. It was only after I pulled myself out of this phase when she finally suggested what it could’ve been: my guardian angel. ht_ghost_car_wreck_kb_130426_wmain

For years I considered myself a selective Catholic because I never fully believed in everything the Church preached to me all my life, but I did, and I still do believe in some parts. However, over the past couple of years I’ve become more interested in the belief of guardian angels, archangels, and any other angels out there. It’s a journey I’ve been lucky enough to take with my mother, who is the person who got me into this new belief, years after she shed light on my phantom encounter. Together we’ve read angel books, used angel cards and engaged in recommended practices suggested by angel preachers (for want of a better word), such as planting sage in our front and back gardens to protect our house.

Our first step, according to famous angel writer, Doreen Virtue, was to find out our guardian angels’ names. The simple part was to simply ask out loud what his/her name is. Irish angel writer Lorna Byrne doesn’t believe angels are male or female, which would explain why I couldn’t tell if the voice I had heard years earlier was from a woman or a man. But I asked anyway, we both did. The slightly difficult part was receiving the answer. Supposedly we had to open our minds and listen to the answer inside of us, in other words, it would just pop into our heads. Naturally, I immediately started playing a guessing game in my head of all the names I could think of. That wouldn’t work. Another way to receive an answer was to look out for a name that you found yourself coming across more often than usual. And it worked!

My guardian angel’s name is Esther. It’s not a name I would conjure up by myself. I have only met one Esther in my life but we weren’t friends, just brief classmates before she dropped out. I hadn’t been thinking of her. Instead I saw and heard her name in at least three different places. And so that’s how I refer to my guardian angel, and against Lorna Byrne’s beliefs, I consider her a woman.

images (1)So what am I now? Am I still a selective Catholic? What do you call someone who believes in angels and a God that doesn’t necessarily fit with the Church’s view? For months, my mother and I considered ourselves spiritualists. It was only recently that I decided to Google what exactly a spiritualist is and does. There is no definite answer, unfortunately, it seems to take on different meanings and maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps what I believe and how I practice it is what spirituality is to me.

Nevertheless, I decided to do some reading, because that’s what Google told me to do. I’m to read as many spiritual texts as possible. But where would I begin? I spent days searching and every book I came across had its positive and negative reviews, so I realised I would have to go with my gut and pick a book that I felt would be a good start. And so I did. I chose The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. I am nearly halfway through reading it and I would rather wait until I’ve finished it before I give my thoughts on it. I’d like to think that this is the start of my own personal spiritual journey.

Wish me luck!