A story from the Nicaraguan Miskitu People about the mango trees planted to feed the dead in the cemetery, and the fear of stealing the ripe fruits.
Rituals and Traditions
WilderUtopia celebrates world culture with a frame of environmental sustainability. Our inspiration sources from ethnically-based indigenous arts, myth and storytelling, as well as dance and music, played out in the rituals, customs, and traditions of the many peoples of the planet.
May Day (May 1) marks the return of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, with origins in ancient agricultural rituals to ensure fertility, handed down from the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Later permutations included the Celtic festival of Beltane and Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from All Saints Day (November 1), and cross-quarter day with pagan overtones. Today, this ancient festival survives, including gathering wildflowers and decorating a May tree or Maypole, around which people dance, and some use it for political protest in association with International Workers Day.
In Aztec cosmology, the soul’s journey to the Underworld after death leaves them with four destinations: the Sacred Orchard of the Gods, the Place of Darkness, the Kingdom of the Sun, and a paradise called the Mansion of the Moon. The most common deaths end up on their way to Mictlán with its nine levels, crashing mountains and rushing rivers, and four years of struggle. This pantheon of gods and goddesses and the expanse of the 13 Heavens provides the cultural basis for the Day of the Dead customs and celebrations.
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. The following myth tells how her daughter Proserpina was abducted by the ruler of the underworld, forced to become his wife, but with Ceres’ help, she watches over the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth or renewal.
An anthropological and archaeological study of the origins of the Christmas Tree customs that grew out of the older European pagan Winter Solstice rituals by the Old European Culture Blog.
Here is a retelling of the Hopi story, The Revenge of the Katcinas (Kachinas or Katsinam). To grow crops and survive in their mountainous desert, the Hopis understand the necessity for proper devotion to the supernatural powers, known as the Kachinas, who embody the spirits of living things and also of ancestors who have died and become a part of nature. When the people fall out of favor with the supernaturals, disaster results.
An exhibition by artist Cristóbal Valecillos in Los Angeles invoked the Dancing Devils of Yare, a 400-year old Venezuelan tradition celebrating life, the triumph of good over evil, and renewal. His provocative interpretation of the diablo masks, hand-sculpted from repurposed waste materials, takes aim at culture and consumption in the US, a plea for overcoming.