Saturday, October 30, 2010

What Mask are you wearing this Halloween

Halloween is known as the day of the dead. Halloween, or Samhain, marks the Celtic New Year, a mysterious point in time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and people are said to be able to communicate with the dead - ancestors and departed loved ones.  Samhain is literally a world between the worlds. It was believed that on this day, the dead would be able to intermingle with the living. The living, to protect themselves from being possessed by lost souls, would dress up in ghoulish masks to frighten off the evil spirits OR to fit in with them and go undetected in order not to be possessed by them.
But it’s not just Halloween that people wear masks, maybe in a more literal and visible way we do, yet everyday we wear a mask, only these ones are invisible…even to ourselves. And we do it for the same reason: “to frighten off the evil spirits OR to fit in with them and go undetected in order not to be possessed by them.” The only difference is that now we are possessed by an invisible ‘evil’ spirit, in which we created.
We begin to construct our masks at a young age as we tried to fit into our family roles and figure which way of being would make us feel the most safe and loved. These masks were constructed to cover up deep feelings of shame, unworthiness and powerlessless.
And we don’t just wear one mask, the wounded ego can take on a variety of different masks to camouflage its perceived inadequacies. The nature of the facade that we choose varies from person to person, and most of us have more than one social mask that we wear, depending on who we are with and what stage of life we are in.  
Many of us created personas based on how others perceived our true selves and adjusted our personas accordingly to fit in, to be accepted and to feel like we are okay…creating false selves. Our false selves, then serves as a way for our wounded ego to distance itself from our deep painful feelings, in an effort to protect us. But instead, the masks that we construct to hide and protect what others (and we ourselves) have made wrong, bad, and unacceptable become an invisible fortress around our true selves.
Day by day as we continue to wear our masks of “protection”, we lose contact with our true selves. We obscure our true essence, hiding who we really are and even our ability to know and see the truth about ourselves because we have come to believe in the false self. Once our facade is firmly in place, we begin to be used by the nature of the mask we have chosen. We attract to us the very people who will help us ensure that we can continue playing the same character over and over again-even when it has become so painful that we can no longer take it. We stay glued to our false self because we believe we are the mask we are wearing.
Yet, the ‘evil’ spirits we are hiding from or fighting against is really lost fragments of our true selves. As Samhain is literally a world between the worlds, so is our everyday lives as we continue to wear our masks and live through our false selves. That is the real day of the dead.
It’s not the masks that scare us; it is what is underneath them that frightens us the most.


  1. Yeah, that's ME! Masks hanging on the walls, and I only have to pick which one(s) to wear today.

    Of course that IS simplified, but you are SO good at pointing out what does unite most everyone--our

    Long ago (WW II) there was a song, "I'll Be Seeing You" my head is playing that tune right now, as you and I both are trying to make a break from here. Best of everything I wish for you, along with good luck.

    You sound like you got "it" together, girl!

    Steve E

  2. another great piece...i've been thinking about this concept a lot lately, trying to be more self-aware...for me it's mostly when i feel most vulnerable (as i'm sure many do) that i feel i have to put on my mask and be strong...similar to how if you don't know the answer and feel like you should, that sometimes you pretend to know even when you are clueless. because why would anyone be OK with me not being perfect, being correct, being right? that's what goes on in the mind sometimes and even though we know we'd never put those unrealistic expectations on others, sometimes we do it to ourselves. your post is a good reminder to acknowledge the mask and let ourselves take it off and admit we are ok, just as we are. :)

  3. Great post.
    I think my mask or masks are so, that I cannot-or dare not look behind. yes, afraid of what i might find in there. A few many appproaches though... but somehow, i feel if i get too deeply inside i might not like what i find. Silly, but true, too long a life pretending, or learning how to be and behave so that we are liked and accepted.

    I take off a layer of my mask every time i write a poem, or every time i comment in blogs like yours...and it feels great
    Hugs and

    Happy Halloween, my dearest!

  4. What a great piece .. the last sentence sealed the deal...