Is Samhain Still Sacred?

Some time ago, when the rituals of religion were developed around natural occurrences instead of ideology, the festival of Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”) was instituted as one of the four annual festivals to celebrate the changing seasons. In the Gaelic tradition of the northern hemisphere from which Samhain emerged, it was the end of summer, dividing the year into halves with Beltane, May 1, which has come to be known as May Day. Since Irish tradition was passed along orally until the Middle Ages, there is much speculation on the actual roots of this holiday and how it was transmogrified into what is now referred to as Halloween.

samhain61Whether the roots of the holiday are referred to as Gaelic, Celtic, or pagan, the tradition of recognizing this time of year, where the veil to the Otherworld is opened so that the spirits of the dead are free to roam the land, predate the Christian tradition of All Saint’s Day, when dead saints were honored. It is said that these spirits ranged from benevolent to mischievous, angelic to demonic, and that fruits and nuts were set out to appease and bless them as people gathered the harvest of summer and readied themselves for winter. Legend says that it was a time when people stayed close to home, often performing seances to communicate with the spirits of relatives who returned to their homes, and when they did go out, they wore their clothes inside out or went in disguise. The ruse may have been to fool the spirits or it may have been to dress like the spirits in order to get the fruits and nuts, but eventually the tradition emerged to perform tricks for the treats, both as entertainment and as emissaries of the mischievous spirits.

The holiday was also a time of fire, a time of purging, divination, and letting go of the old in order to prepare for the new. Beginning at sundown on October 31, Samhain celebration lasts until sundown on November 1, sometimes lasting for three full days. May we all participate in this day, as with each of our days, with awareness of the traditions that have shaped our world, and the conscious participation in this game of life as we seek to more readily celebrate what we have and release whatever folly may bring us harm.

Advertisements

How I Spent My Make a Difference Day

After spending the entire day doing all of the last minute gymnastics in the olympics of live theatre, I was pretty beat. Although I was excited about having more scripted performances, I didn’t quite feel like jumping into writer mode so I opted for hands-off director and presented opening night of Cemeterror to be an improvisational workshop. The majority of our cast was comprised of the Windmill Theatre Company of New College, and though I told them I’d walk through and discuss their performance, I pretty much just let them play and walked through every now and again to make sure they were having fun, and see if they needed a break or water.

As I was attempting to put the stantions up for the queue line, Don started commenting that a Southern Baptist minister once asked him why he enjoyed doing haunts. He said that he liked to hear people scream. The minister asked him if he didn’t think that was a bit strange, and Don remarked that people come to haunts because they want to scream. When he hears that sound, he knows he’s done a good job and it makes him happy. Although I may not be as stuck on screams as Don, I do like to see people happy, and as I watched people emerge from facing  their fears and subjecting themselves to the horrific, everyone emerged with a smile on their face. So I feel like I’ve done my job as well.

go-mad-and-stay-happyToday, I took some time off of Cemeterror production to take part in Make a Difference Day through Volunteer Community Connections. The project we’d designed was through the Garden Brigade of the Common Wealth Time Bank for the Sanctuary of Sarasota, a developing alternative housing community for the homeless spearheaded by Trinity Without Borders. The task was to move some of the bamboo reeds from the back of the property, where people have found refuge for years, and create a privacy wall along the front of the property.

When Misha, his son Devin, and I walked over there with our shovels and buckets this morning, I was joined by a youth worker from First Baptist Church and a handful of teens. The boys were as excited as any teenager can be to do manual labor, but with a bit of the right direction from the youth worker, we got started digging holes in the front of the property and digging up plants from the rear. As we went along, we were joined by a few other carloads of teens and youth workers, and after a few hours, we had not only created a beautiful new privacy barrier for the ministry, but the boys had also taken the shovels to the overgrown grass and washed in earth to clear out a big portion of the parking lot. One good thing about Baptists is that they do get shit done.

Vallerie, the tireless champion of the poor and downtrodden, and leader of the Trinity Without Borders ministry, was ecstatic about the results. And although she can sometimes be a handful to deal with, she’s now offered me a key to the trailer and carte blanche with whatever other crazy endeavor I want to partake in. So I guess today really did make a difference.

Before I get my makeup on and to go play Seymore Deadpeoples for the night, I also get to make one more difference and launch the Go Mad Storyteller Challenge campaign. This is a year long campaign to inspire people to tell stories about the differences people make in their communities. I’m much more excited about writing this script than the Cemeterror script, but I’m thankful that I have such grand opportunities for more live theatre.

 

Our Deepest Fear

CemeterrorUPDATEDNow that I’ve installed the Cemeterror for a third time in a new location, I get to work on the new script with the “scarefessionals” tonight. With the first installation, I wrote out a script based on the characters I had to work with. On the second installation, I decided to wait until Don set his props to see where the story will go. Believing that the third time’s a charm, I’m going to get the “scarefessionals” a bit more involved in the process this time around. After all, this is a collaborative art form.

As I looked over the characters the first time around, I thought about what made them scary. For the creepy clowns, scarecrow, and masked denizens of the dark, it wasn’t too hard. But for the ghosts and ghouls there was a different aspect that appealed to me. I think that the spectre of death is not nearly as scary as life not fully lived.

When I first considered doing Cemeterror at The Flow Factory, I considered changing the theme to focus more on this Zombie Apocalypse craze that is sweeping the nation. I think that the popularity of zombies says a lot about who we are as a people and what fears are truly gnawing away at our consciousness. For with zombies, whose attack comes with a transformation into the very thing that consumes us, existence is relegated to mindless consumption and endless wandering with no emotional connection, the very existence that many of us see being cultivated in the commodity world view around us.

I think that many of the ghosts and ghouls that inhabit the Cemeterror haunt became that way before the zombification of our society and have other fears that plague their purgatorial existence. And like the people in our real world, those fears are what propel us to do the mean and nasty things that we, and others, do. The fears of going without, of not being accepted, of not being understood, of being attacked, and of falling into all sorts of peril are often at the root of our discontent and the fulcrums of the bad decisions we make which so often only serve to help manifest the outcomes of the fears we so try to avoid.

deepest-fearAs I’ve given thought to fear during this process, I am still largely reminded of Marianne Williamson’s description of our deepest fear, and while it may not actually make it into the haunt, I hope that the essence of it will shine through. She says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Although I’m delving into the pits of fear with this whole thing, I hope that I can shine a light in the darkness.

The Story in The Story

With each iteration of the Cemeterror maze, I have considered a new storyline. And each time I’ve taken it apart and put it back together again, that story has changed. I realize that a huge part of this attraction is the interaction with things dark and scary, all of those base emotions that haunt us and give us fear, yet I feel that humanity operates largely out of a bad relationship with those things and part of our moving forward into a reality in which we can all live in peace depends upon us coming to grips with the fears that motivate us into action and inaction so that we can have more control of how we recognize and channel the flow of abundance that waits for us beyond our emotional turmoil.

The process in itself has been such a journey. Faced with the fears of governmental repudiation, harm to others, and a burgeoning reputation as a clusterfuck specialist, I tried not to focus upon those things that would deter me from reaching my goal, but instead focused on the opportunities available to me when I sought the realm of the infinite which still existed beyond the borders of the finite. It is my hope that the Cemeterror experience will help people achieve such an understanding.

Fears-are-storiesI’ve been thinking a lot about fear these days, as it’s the emotion I need to work with in order to pull this stunt off, and I’ve come to believe that we create the majority of our fears. Through superstitions, attachments, and misunderstandings, we keep ourselves from experiencing much of the wonder of life because we are afraid of it.

Not all of our fears are bad. Some fears are healthy and work on a biological level to keep our bodies intact and continuing on in life’s sojourn. Like every other member of the animal kingdom, our deepest fear, that which propels our survival mechanisms, is the fear that our existence will end, not necessarily our complete existence, but this temporal location we have assumed as we animate these bags of organs and bones.

Even before the idea of ego comes into the mix, bringing with it the cacophony of screams, whines, and worries that squeak their way out of this emotional artifice, the simple experience of being alive, without a name, without a job, without a political affiliation, religion, or 401K, is something to be held sacred, and we fear the loss of it. Whether we fear abandoning what we know or reaching that “undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns,” there is, within each of us, a burgeoning desire for self preservation. Yet I wonder how many fears we could alleviate in our lives if we could only let go of our selves.

As the world continues to unveil itself to me, offering its morsels of creamy goodness within its sometimes hard outer shell, I notice that the more often I am able to let go of the attachments my self has created, the way things are supposed to work out, the way they are supposed to be done, the way other people should do things, the order in which things should go, and a myriad of other self-imposed limitations, the more I can release my grip on those things, the less I fear how life will happen and the more I can merely follow its flow. It’s still a conscious thrust and parlay to win this battle of wits, but I think I’m getting more adept at it as I go. Yet I think that, like many, one of the fears I still cling to is that the game will end before I finish my story.

We each have the opportunity, infinite opportunities, actually, to open ourselves up to be more than the petty creatures we often believe ourselves to be, and allow ourselves to be used by the Great Storyteller to inspire, amuse, and amaze, to be used for a greater good than self preservation and become a catalyst for a better world. The lives that we lead are the stories we tell, and whether we play a character or cultivate character, we are always a part of the greater Story. I hope my story within The Story helps more storytellers rise.

The Turmoil in the Cemeterror

As I shared in Sarasota Day on Monday, the fire marshal put a bit of a kink in my plans for Cemeterror, but as I put myself into the job that must be done, it is still turning out better than I could have planned. Of course, it disturbs me that public service entities like the fire marshal’s office must come shake down citizens for more money, but in this society where everything is a commodity and so much activity is required for the supposed life-giving resource of money, I have come to accept it as par for the course. It is what it is, and I will continue to go with the flow in the hope that what I do within the system will help us to overcome the system and be able to flow more freely in the days to come.

CemeterrorPoster2013FINISHEDNEWEDITI’m not mad at the fire marshal’s office, but rather feel compassion for them in having a profession that requires them to be afraid for a living. Considering the stress they are under, both of the representatives that visited the site were kind and cordial, and seemed to actually want to help us meet our goals of opening in time and putting on a fun, yet safe, show. And while the act of having to take precautions in order to meet ordinance standards is a pain in the tookus, I can appreciate the intention of public safety under which the guidelines were created and have no problem with walking the extra mile in order to avoid a possible pitfall.

Although the extra precautions cause me some extra work, they also present challenges which force me to sharpen my skills and rise to becoming a more creative artist, a more wily businessman, a more conscious citizen, and a more active member of my community. For me, the more work I have to put into whatever craft I am creating only makes the unveiling of the art all the more joyous. There was a time when craftsmanship and passion were paramount in this land, and I sincerely hope that what I do here at The Flow Factory will inspire more of that.

The Return of Seymore Deadpeoples

550469_10151209417452557_837284733_nAs I’ve been developing the maze for Cemeterror, in which all sorts of fun props and spooky decor are being added, a few people have asked me if I am going to resume my role as Seymore Deadpeoples last year. Considering that the end of the maze now leads to a community bazaar at The Flow Factory, I think that my energies will be better spent mingling among my community and answering questions about what else we have to offer. Nevertheless, I felt that the costume suited me quite well, and considering that last year my dialogue consisted of my yelling, “Raaaaaahhhh!” every few minutes, I think my character could use some expansion. And I think that I’d be better suited for the sideshow than the haunt.

As we’ve been trying to initiate more flow by sending all of debris that has collected in The Flow Factory out with people that have needed them. We’ve also had people donate things that continued their way through, and we’ve picked stuff up on the side of the road that have been repurposed as well. There are also things that we picked up that just haven’t yet found their place.
Two of those items are a cumbersome yet funky reclining wooden chair that I brought home on the little blue wagon and a coffee table in need of refinishing. They’ve been sitting by the side of the road for a week, and I’ve been wondering what to do with them. Fortunately, an innovative dude on a bicycle carried the chair off on his head the other day, but as I looked at the coffee table since, I thought that it would make a great stage from which my character can engage the dead peoples that he sees.

Since there was really no script last year, and since I am writing the script for this year, and since my character stands out as the one light colored costume in the bunch, I think that Seymore Deadpeoples has much to say as he drifts in and out of existence. However, I think that his best lines won’t be the ones written by me. As we’ve played with this idea of infinite potential that we’re developing through ABC (squared) Economics, and that with every dream comes the work necessary for its manifestation, I have more than once thrown out the line, “There’s the rub.” And although I know it’s a bit out of context, I think that, as we as a people wake up to a new way of living in the world beyond the commodity world view, we had might better examine what dreams may come as we expand our vision of what life really is, die to what we have been, and throw off the mortal coil that keeps us from the joy that is our birthright.

CemeterrorPoster2013FINISHEDNEWEDITAt The Flow Factory, we aim to open people up to the reality that the universe is incredibly abundant, and that we have everything that we need in order to create a life that flourishes with love, creativity, celebration, and mirth. Yet as we live through “the way we have always done things,” we tend to diminish our capabilities by limiting ourselves to what can be done only through the facilitation of a currency that has lost its intrinsic value, has repeatedly failed in developing the wealth that it promises, and has increasingly been absorbed into the accounts of a very small percentage of the population. If we can instead wake from our zombification and realize that we do indeed have all rights to let life flourish through our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits, and need no longer serve these ways that seem right to men yet always end in death, then we can open our eyes to a new tomorrow and emerge triumphant from our zombie apocalypse.

So I will, as Seymore Deadpeoples, be performing, among other things, the “to be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet. That is, after all, the question that we are asking people. Do you want to be the hero of your own life? Do you want to be a life artist? Will you be a warrior for what you know is of virtue? Will you be the change in the world that we are looking for?

If you are given the chance, will you make the most of the life you have been given or will you shirk from your potential and choose the status quo? To be or not to be, that is the question, but what being you will choose is the mystery. And as I see more dead peoples come to a new understanding of life, I see the potential for a lot of rebirth from this Cemeterror.

The Value of Community Radio

528007_532877550066293_453863428_nThough I don’t listen to the radio often, when I do, it’s tuned to 96.5. It’s not just because I host a show on WSLR called Oikonomia about the wealth of the community and discuss the new rules of the house, but also because the station offers me really eclectic blend of music and information that helps me to better create the kind of life that I want. Giving me news that matters and information about what’s going on in the world I can actually relate to, 96.5 is so much more of a listening treat than the same old music and commercials that are found elsewhere on the radio dial.

I also love the purity of it being listener supported. Since its inception, WSLR has been a community radio station, powered by people who care enough about their community to volunteer their time, talents, and financial energy to ensure that the people of Sarasota have a voice. And through its live Internet stream, that voice can be heard all over the world.

Co1235069_621854351168612_312626599_nnsidering the issues that we face and the innovations and creativity we use to find answers, it is a powerful thing to be able to share that information with the rest of our global community. Although the heart of WSLR is dedicated to the local matters of Sarasota, what we do here reverberates around the world with communities who deal with similar issues and might benefit from hearing our take on things. And, of course, the ability to find out about what’s going on in your own backyard from people who really care is a priceless addition to what WSLR offers.

As our community radio station runs through its pledge drive this week, please consider supporting this endeavor and ensuring that this resource continue. It doesn’t take a whole lot of money to do what WSLR does, but it’s an investment pays off magnificently in making this community much richer in diversity, celebration, and education. Go to www.WSLR.org or call the station to make your pledge now.