Thought to have originated around 4000 BC in the ancient Celtic world, Halloween is considered to be a time when the veil between worlds is thin. During this time, which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year, spirits were welcome and celebrated. However, some spirits were thought to be evil, and therefore unwelcome. Costumes were worn for protection to scare away the unwanted spirits. This practice led to the modern halloween customs we, in the West, are familiar with today.
Many countries have similar celebrations and festivities to honor the spirit world. China has a festival called Teng Chieh, the ‘ghost festival’, which began as a religious ritual nearly 2000 years ago. While it is currently celebrated in July and not October, it’s rooted in the same recognition of life beyond the physical. Lanterns and bonfires are lit to help guide spirits back to their earthly homes, and allow the living a chance to honor deceased loved ones. This is a time to leave food, water and gifts by portraits of family members who have passed.
The Fall, in Chinese Medicine belongs to the Metal element and the associated emotion is grief, which is held in the lungs. Grief is a part of life and something we must all deal with at some point. If the emotion of grief is suppressed and not processed properly it can lead to health issues, especially lung disease. Taking time to remember loved ones that have passed and allowing emotions to flow can be extremely important in long term disease prevention and health maintenance. The Fall is a great time to do this according to Chinese Medicine seasonal energies. Halloween, a chance to face the dark side of death with a certain amount of playful protection, can be a reminder to put aside the spooky fun for a moment and lovingly honor our deceased friends and relatives.
The Fall season is a perfect time to:
- Find a picture of a departed loved one, frame it, and display it in an area, with room for a candle and some memory-honoring items. You can include some items they owned or passed down.
- Make an ‘offering’ of their favorite things such as food, flowers, or even pictures of things they liked.
- Write a letter of things unsaid or things worthy of being repeated.
- Make a donation in their honor to a cause they valued.
Chinese Medicine is rooted in Taoist philosophy which views death as a natural part of life that we all must accept, and goes so far as to suggest that life is an illusion while death is an awakening. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it can be a healing practice to take time to remember people in our lives who have passed on to the great mystery.
Enjoy all the feels of the season, the changing smells, colors and of course the fun of the fall holidays. Don’t forget to make time for some Acupuncture to assist with the emotional energies that naturally arise during this time, which can include grief and sadness. Acupuncture can help open the pathways that allow these emotions to flow in a healthy, supported way. We’re here for you!