365 Days of Earrings

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bats for All Saints Day

Today is All Saints Day, celebrated as The Day of the Dead in Mexico. Here in the US, it's a day to survive: the day after Halloween, when children stay up too late, collect and consume massive quantities of candy, and expend tremendous energy worrying about costumes and who-is-trick-or-treating-with-whom and how-to-eat-as-much-candy-as-possible-without-mom-and-dad-noticing.

I admire traditional cultures in which people can visit their ancestors in the graveyard nearby. I can imagine sitting with my children amidst the marigolds and candles, sharing stories of my parents, and their parents, and their parents, just as I heard them over the years... Meeting cousins, and their cousins... But that family gathering is lost long ago in generations of my family. My disgruntled ancestors left Europe and kept moving once they got to America, movement that's become even more peripatetic in the past few generations.

Today I wore this pair of bats, carved of bone. They were a gift from a 7th grade student, Cara, who is now 25. They look regal to me--even ethereal--in flight. Bats made of bone, for the Day of the Dead. Bats who emerge at night, flitting through the darkness. Bats who are demonized, yet who benefit us all by eating the mosquitoes and other insects that plague our days.

I hung my bats on this ginkgo tree. I chose it to bear the last two months of my year of earrings: November and December of 2011. Only 60 days to go.

I imagine that my Celtic ancestors on the British Isles gathered around bonfires to celebrate Samhain, the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter, on this same day. As families walked from bonfire to bonfire, perhaps they told stories of their parents, and their parents parents. I've read that they threw the bones of cattle on those fires. And perhaps they carved bone to make amulets. Bats, perhaps, which flitted about overhead. 

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