One of the great things about Mardi Gras (and there are MANY great things about Mardi Gras) is that the people here in NOLA who make Mardi Gras happen know that the festival has its roots in Classical Paganism. Just look at the names of our parades: Bacchus, Orpheus, Proteus, Muses, Cleopatra... we know that in Roman Catholic practice, where one must atone for sin at Lent, the best sin is Pagan debauchery. That's what Mardi Gras is all about.
This year there was some very special Pagan awesomeness. The shining example, which I'll begin with, was the night of parades held by the Krewe of Proteus, and the Krewe of Orpheus.
Sirens have always been one of my favorite bits of mythology: seductive, half women, half birds who can lure people to their doom with the power of their song.
I think we’ve all run into our own version of the Sirens. Those people or things that we just can’t resist, usually to our own detriment.
As the “Muses of the Underworld”, the Sirens seem an appropriate symbol for New Orleans. In many ways, New Orleans is a Siren herself. She lures people in and doesn’t usually let them leave. The few who do leave seem to run away screaming, intrinsically knowing what they’ve escaped. A place that is steeped in death and underworld traffic, New Orleans sings sweetly to those who visit her. Some stay forever, others leave but to return over and over.
I've got a Big Chief, Big Chief, Big Chief of the Nation Wild, wild creation
He won't bow down, down on the ground Oh how I love to hear you call my Indian Red!
I had one of the most spiritual experiences you can have in New Orleans tonight; I walked for St. Joseph's night with a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. David Montana, nephew of the most famous Mardi Gras Indian Chief, Big Chief Tutti Montana, led the Washitaw nation in a nearly ten mile hike around the city.
Here in New Orleans, yesterday was Mardi Gras, the final day of a four week celebration of Pagan Gods and Catholic partying. I spend most of the day in the Marigny and the French Quarter, photographing the people and happenings there. I thought I'd post a few photos of Pagan/spiritual interest from my Mardi Gras wanderings. For full blog coverage of this year's Mardi Gras, please see my other blog, Kenny Klein Explains It All.
Anyone who reads my general blog, Kenny Klein Explains It All, knows that at this time of year I blog manically about Mardi Gras here in New Orleans. But on a day when there are no parades, parties or street orgies, like today, I thought I'd take a moment to talk about Mardi Gras and its Pagan history.
The Paganism behind Mardi Gras is evident in the names of the krewes, which are the societies that put on our parades: The Krewe Of Oshun; The Krewe Of Cleopatra; The Krewe Of Sparta; The Mystic Knights Of Adonis; The Krewe Of Thor; The Krewe Of Atlas; The Mystic Krewe Of Druids; The Mystic Krewe Of Nix; The Krewe Of Muses; The Knights Of Hermes; The Krewe Of Isis; The Krewe Of Zeus; The Krewe Of Hera; and of course The Krewe Of Bacchus. It is no coincidence that most of the nearly seventy parades of Mardi Gras are named for Pagan deities and cultures.