by Angeliska on December 7, 2012
This year on November 2nd, which is Day of the Dead or All Souls’ Day, (also known as the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed), I was in New Orleans – a city that is on more intimate terms with death than many other cities, and a place where the dead are honored with elaborate marble necropolises, with both liturgical rites and pagan processions. The Day of the Dead parade is a tradition that I have has the great joy of participating in many times now, and has become such a major part of how I most want to honor those I’ve loved and lost every year. There’s something very powerful about this solemn, joyful, wild, rag-tag processions that wends its way through the dark streets, between houses and over train tracks, carrying ashes, lanterns, photos and memories. Every face painted with a skull, some glittered and grease painted, some intricate, some abstract. The sun set in a Maxfield Parrish blue fantasia, and we all gathered by the tracks: urchins and dogs and mamas and their little ones and elders and sisters and brothers and lovers. And the dead – invoked, unseen, everywhere.
Corinne knocks me out every time.
Rachel David makes me smile.
Mr. Michael James. Hot shaman.
I wrote the names of these dearly departed on my heart and burned it by the river:
I got to ride on a nice man’s pennyfarthing!
On the long walk back to the world, I came across this beautiful altar.
The sign reads: this is public altar – feel free to post photos and offerings
Folks from the neighborhood had come and added photos and memorials of their loved ones. It was strange to come across photos of people I recognized there, like My friend Felix’s dad, Hart McNee, who passed away in 2009. Strange and beautiful. I’m so grateful to be able to experience rituals like this. It is my dream in life to be able to create more opportunities for people to grieve and celebrate and honor their dead in beautiful ways like this. One day, I hope to help make a similar procession happen in Austin… Hopefully, one day very soon.
Full set of photos here:
Day of the Dead 2012
Further reading on Day of the Dead: