Two fascinating insights deepen our understanding of death and Samhain, which honors its sacred dimension. In one of his essays on nature poet Gary Snyder made a point I have never forgotten.
An ecosystem is a kind of mandala in which there are multiple relations that are all-powerful and instructive. Each figure in the mandala – a little mouse or bird (or little god or demon figure) – has an important position and a role to play. Though ecosystems can be described as hierarchical in terms of energy flow, from the standpoint of the whole all of its members are equal.
. . . We are all guests at the feast, and we are also the meal! All of biological nature can be seen as an enormous puja, a ceremony of offering and sharing.
As I was finishing a chapter in my forthcoming book, Faultlines, I encountered a compatible observation by Carl von Essen regarding what he called the “hunter’s trance.” Von Essen wrote