Feast of All Souls

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.
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All souls laid bare, glowing and glimmering in the half-light.
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Pandora makes a beautiful lantern every year for her parents.
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She also made a little heart lantern for me, to honor my dead. So many of them this year.
I wrote their names, garlanded them in coral vine, and carried them to the river.
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Corinne knocks me out every time.
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Ruby and Marcela.
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Raven as a Bolivian cholita.
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Lizann shining in the streetlight.
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Rachel David makes me smile.
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Randall Chili Frangelico is a scary witchface.
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Mr. Michael James. Hot shaman.
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His deerskull neckpiece…
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Parade! Fireworks! Dead horse wagon!
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This is still maybe the best thing I have ever seen. Every time I see it, I fall in love all over again.
It moves so beautifully, clip clopping delicately down the street. Richie is such a genius.
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Even the doggies got dressed up.
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Radiant pearl.
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Shannon Brinkman
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A beauty.
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Lauren Silberman
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Tommy
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I don’t know who is under there, but I like their mask.
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Mary Go Round
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Marion
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Pandora is a dollbaby.
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At the end of the world!
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We sing while we may…
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Heart in my hands, eyes lined in marigold petals, found on the ground in Rosalie Alley the night after the voodoo ceremony for the Guédé.
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I wrote the names of these dearly departed on my heart and burned it by the river:
Charles Lessing Polacheck
Mark Aboudja
Alice Stevenson
Diane Naegel
Ray Henry Ulrich
Jennifer Cruz
Esme Barrera
Helen Hill
Jon Flee
Alma Maleckar
Nefairia Devi
Ramon
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We are aflame with love, with grief, with everything in us, everything around us – catching fire, ashes drifting out to sea.
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Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
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By the river, peaceful now.
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This mask was so very excellent – made from cardboard!
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Our Lady.
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Can’t stop Corinnie!
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Miss Olivia LadyBabyMiss
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Nikki (I think?)
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Antlered maiden
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Doll girl
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Star
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Eliza
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Dino
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GIT IT!
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Alita Edgar
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Calamity & friend.
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Josh + Sophia
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Misha
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Amanda Stone
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Dancing along the edge.
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I got to ride on a nice man’s pennyfarthing!
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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
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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:
LAS CATRINAS
Day of the Dead in New Orleans
Cempasúchil por los Muertos
Día de los Muertos – R.I.P. Studs Terkel
Santissima Muerte!

One comment

That man in the Orpheo Negro mask is Case. I was working during the parade. So glad that I get to see these gems. xoxoxo

by Nina Carolina on December 7, 2012 at 9:08 am. Reply #

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