Creativity for the Rest of Us

Calling All Allies

Many of us do not belong to an organized spiritual tradition.  Some of us weren’t raised with any or are atheist or agnostic.  Others didn’t resonate or couldn’t fully accept the whole package of a particular theology and chose to go our own way. What has worked for many who still desire spiritual practice and ritual is to take the best of what works from others and craft our own.  The beauty of creating something that is unique to you is that it is deeply and personally meaningful.

Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead – has become a ­­­­­­­­­­­­favorite holiday of mine. I love this celebration that comes from (mainly) Hispanic cultures and falls on November 1st and 2nd, coinciding with All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the Catholic tradition.

It’s the time of year to honor our ancestors – family members, friends, and important historical figures who have passed on and who left an imprint or inspired us in some way.  Altars, collages, and photomontages are some of the ways we can pay tribute to these helping allies. In the style of Dia de los Muertos, I create a place in my home to display photos, mementos and special items that remind me of these special people.  It’s a time when I give gratitude for the lessons, the love and the support they have given me.

Malidoma Some, an initiated elder and teacher from Burkina Faso who shares indigenous African wisdom to Western cultures, tells us that the ancestors are still with us and ready to serve as our allies in this world.  He describes them as just waiting to be called on and only too eager to be given assignments.

There are many ways to seek their help.  Ask for something specific  – help with a project or new pursuit, a difficult conversation we need to have or a behavioral pattern that we want to break.  We can also ask for help with a quality they were known for that we desire more of – courage, patience, flexibility. Whatever area you want to strengthen or expand, look for an ally to help.

I have a trio I call on for creative projects:  John O’Donohue for the beauty and soulfulness of his language, Molly Ivins for her spunk and straight shooting style and Frida Kahlo for her colorful and piercingly personal artistry.

Who are the ancestors who are most meaningful to you? What do you appreciate and honor about them?  What would you like their help with?

They’re waiting.  All you have to do is ask.



Who are the ancestors who inspire you creatively – either as artists or in how they lived their lives?  Create a visual representation of their spirit, their gifts and what you learned from them.  Give gratitude daily for their love, support and creativity in your life.

Look for events in your area celebrating Dia de los Muertos.  The street processions and altar exhibits are not to be missed.


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  1. In the Steps of the Ancestors | - […] traditions celebrate All Saints and All Souls. Living in San Francisco, it’s hard to miss Dia de Muertos –…

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