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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in day of the dead

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dreaming of the Dead

 

There is a belief that we can communicate with loved ones when they have left this earthly plane. They may come to us in the form of a bird, the sudden smell of roses in a room they enjoyed or visit us in a dream. This is the ideal moment, when the veil is the thinnest, to make contact, to enjoy their company, to listen to the messages that they may wish to impart.

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Day of the Dead and Cultural Appropriation

With Samhain just around the corner, its relation with Day of the Dead is an issue of some importance to many Pagans. Taos, where I now live, is famous for the ubiquitous presence of decorated Day of the Dead skulls in many shop windows, all over town, all year long.  Of course, Day of the Dead themes have been integrated into Halloween celebrations as well, even though Mexicans are a small part of the population. The dominant Hispanic community had been here for centuries when Mexican people brought Day of the Dead with them. Since then, elements of it have caught on, particularly with the White population. 

As it has, the issue of cultural appropriation has arisen.  Cultural appropriation is when the dominant culture, or members of it, borrow and use aspects of minority cultures outside of their intended context. Recently, Aya de Leon offered a thoughtful critique of Anglo celebrations of Day of the Dead as cultural appropriation.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. diZerega, Thanks for your thoughtful contributions on a sensitive subject.
The Old Gods are with us always: Mictcacícatl, Santisima Muerte, and Day of the Dead

One November 2, the Day of the Dead, I went to the Taos Inn to hear a talk by local Taos artist, writer, and all around remarkable woman, Anita Rodriguez. It was fascinating and I asked whether I could reproduce it here at Witches and Pagans, She graciously agreed, and asked whether I could also share her website, where people can see and perhaps purchase her work. (I love her work- she did two paintings for me a while ago.)

__________________________________

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Living Gold

Consider the common marigold.

New World native, bearer of mythic names, flower of the dead.

In the 18th century, Swedish botanist Karl Linne named the genus Tagetes, for Tagus, the Divine Child of Etruscan mythology, who sprang from a plowed furrow one day and gave law to the Etruscan people.

The common English name means “Mary's gold.” Mary, of course, is the de facto goddess of Christianity, but since Robert Graves' day certain witches have known their goddess as Mari as well.

Well, these flowers are her living gold.

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Day of the Dead, Samhain, and Halloween: cultural appropriation or something wonderful?

 

Taos, where I recently moved, is famous for its celebration of Day of the Dead.  Not surprisingly Day of the Dead themes have been integrated in to Halloween celebrations here.  Day of the Dead also shares many points of overlap with Samhain.   For the previous two years I worked with Mexican friends to organize a joint celebration of Samhain and Day of the Dead in Sebastopol, California. We had side by side altars and people were encouraged to light votives honoring their deceased loved one, and to place them on the altars of their choice.  My Wiccan altar had marigolds on it, and the skull was a colorful one in keeping with Day of the Dead symbolism. Otherwise it was very traditional.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Death Never Sleeps

La Muerte no duerme.

If the tales be true, some stormy night Old Hornie will ride up to the Old Warlocks' Home on a black horse (who knows, these days he may drive up in a black Porsche), sling me over his shoulder, and carry me off screaming into the night.

And they'll say: Well, that's the end of him.

Well, maybe. Otherwise, barring the unforeseen or the mob with torches and pitchforks (these things do happen), I'll have my heart attack and be dead before I hit the ground. That's generally how men in my family die. My lifelong vegetarianism may buy me a few extra years and better health at the end, but the final prognosis is nohow in doubt.

With luck, I'm looking at another 30 years ahead; with lots of luck, maybe another 40. I've always admired the title of Margaret Murray's autobiography: My First Hundred Years. She died at 101.

In every language that I've ever studied, death is a noun, but, of course, death is not a noun, a thing. What we call death is a cessation, a stoppage: when the parts stop working together. That it's so intangible somehow makes it that much more undefinable.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

For those who wish to extend their Halloween/Samhain party celebrations, here's another notion for you:

Mexican Day of the Dead Party
The artwork and decoration for Dia de los Muertos (traditionally Nov. 1st and 2nd) has always been naturally festive. This sacred practice has more to do with customs and community rather than a particular organized religion. It is the answer to the Celtic origins of Halloween, but more so: The Mexican festival is truly a public celebration, not just a private affair. The Catholics may have All  Saint's Day, but this Mexican custom, like many native cultures, is a blending of ancient pagan practice intermeshed with the adoption of Christian symbolism and saints. In many of the whimsical and often beautiful altars on display, there are images of the Virgin Mary or Jesus interspersed amongst the whimsical sugar skulls.

I have one word for you here: skeletons, skeletons, skeletons! You could even recycle some Cinco de Mayo wall hangings if you like, to mix in with the bones. Decorate little sugar skulls and add to your altar/treat table. Have each guest bring a memento from a recently departed loved one to add to the altar space. Light a candle for each, and offer a favorite treat to all of them.

Speaking of treats, whip up some Mexican Hot Chocolate, and have a salsa bar with several degrees of hot to sample with some spicy tacos, nachos, and tortilla chips. Let Mariachi music ring out over your speakers. If that gets too scary for some after a spell, switch over to the Gypsy Kings. Share some tarot readings and ask for advice from a departed loved one. Keep it in the tradition of this honored day. Remember that Halloween can be sweet in more than one way.
 
MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE
(from Rachel Ray)
4 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) chocolate chips
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and 1 cup of water over a medium heat. Whisk constantly but do not boil- about 8 minutes. This makes 4 mugs, so double or quadruple recipe accordingly. To spice things up, add a shot of rum to each mug!

Sugar Skulls
For more Dia de los Muertos ideas and sugar skull instructions, visit:
mexicansugarskull.com

 

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