Don’t tell my mother…
I am not a religious person. Despite Mom’s best efforts, attending church every Sunday and enrolling me in Catechism did not set me up for a life devoted to the Catholic faith. When I went away to college, my roommate (also raised Catholic) and I occasionally attempted to go to mass on Sunday evenings, but it was usually contingent upon whether we felt we could get back home in time to watch the X-Files. I do not believe that all the great mysteries of the universe can be summed up in a nice little package that was written by humans.
Organized religion does not resonate with me, so I stopped practicing Catholicism during my journey towards autonomy. Since then, I have discovered two things:
1) I believe in science.
2) Science cannot yet explain everything.
And behold… My belief in the unexplained was born! (Mulder and Scully would be so proud.) Though, I prefer to call it “intangible, cosmic energy.”
I don’t have faith. I cherish possibility.
To be brief, I believe that each living thing has its own energy. We as living beings affect each other’s energy through the sheer act of being alive. When we die, our energy is no longer contained in its earthly vessel. Maybe that energy is transferred to another living thing to start a new life. Maybe it floats around in the ether, tapping other living beings on the shoulder and pointing them to where they are needed most. I don’t have the answer, and I’m not really looking for one, but I’m open to other ideas.
In life, we have choices: Celebration or fear?
The Mexican traditions of Dia de los Muertos make it a festive day to celebrate loved ones who have passed. Vibrantly decorated altars to the deceased feature pictures, flowers, candles, and offerings of favorite foods. Skulls made of sugar or clay adorned with colorful patterns are placed at the altar to represent the skull of the deceased. The air is thick with sentiment on this day as the words, “Gone but not forgotten,” rings through the hearts of our earthbound souls. Music loud enough to wake the dead plays in the streets. Everyone dances and smiles. On this day, we are a collective conscience, celebrating those who are precious to us, and comforting those who need it though any lingering grief.
Sugar skulls have become my personal reminder that death is not to be feared. As a human being who struggles with a fear of death, the idea of celebrating the deceased with flowers, food, and dancing instead of mourning them makes the whole “mortality” thing a bit easier to stomach. It is an affirmation that although our loved ones are no longer of this world, their intangible cosmic energy will always exist.
Need to cope? Make some art!
This piece is reflective of both the darkness of grief, and the joy our loved ones brought to us during their lifetime. The dark color palate also presented an interesting opportunity for experimentation with low light photography.
Her eyeballs were a combination of wanting to make her energy feel more human, and a desire to experiment with isomalt. Her spirit smiles, reminding us that even in death, we are not gone forever.
She was not fashioned to honor anyone in particular, but I find her expression comforting. Her big round eyes remind me of my goldfish, Loretta. That is, if she were capable of making any other face. Say hi, Loretta…
And because everyone loves a time lapse video, here ya go!