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.
Tag: Day of the Dead
In San Francisco, the Mission District has celebrated Day of the Dead every year in since the early 70’s with altars in Garfield Park, serving as a community graveyard for the night and through art, music, other live performances and a walking procession. With the neighborhood in transition from rapid gentrification, will this vibrant culture rite continue? Yes, for now… Photos by Jack Eidt from 2015.
Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 masterpiece “Under the Volcano,” about the fervid last hours of an alcoholic ex-diplomat in Mexico, is set to the drumbeat of coming internal and external conflict. Autobiographical and reflective of the expatriated trust-funder in a futile search for an artistic home, the perpetually inebriated master got lost along the road toward his own abyss, and died under suspicious circumstances, out-of-print.
Part of the Mesoamerican myth of the origin of people, where Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, descends into the Land of the Dead, Mictlán, to rescue the bones of humanity and bring them back to life.
Mexico’s traditional celebration of Dia de los Muertos embraces the inevitability of death. Painting faces in the style of Santa Muerte (Saint Death), Calavera Catrina (Dame Skeleton), or another loving tribute to the counter-Guadalupe icon Frida Kahlo pays homage to the beauty in death, offering eye-candy sugar skulls in tribute to the ancestors.
The Mexican film Macario (1960) weaves a tale of magical realism – with special appearances by God, the Devil and Death. It all begins on the Day of the Dead, when a campesino named Macario goes on a hunger strike. B. Traven, the mysterious German writer exiled in Mexico, wrote the story, inspired from indigenous folk tales.
In Guatemala, a procession through the cobblestone streets of the former capital, Antigua, marks the end of the Day of the Dead, All Saints and All Souls.