Thanksgiving/Day of the Dead in Cicely, Alaska (Northern Exposure, 1992)

The good people of Cicely, Alaska enjoy their eccentric, Day of the Dead-inflected version of Thanksgiving in this scene from Northern Exposure (1992). As explained by Marilyn Whirlwind (Elaine Miles), the indigenous people of Cicely do not regard the orthodox Thanksgiving as a day of celebration. In fact, they carry a lot of anger towards … Read moreThanksgiving/Day of the Dead in Cicely, Alaska (Northern Exposure, 1992)

“This Halloween, Let’s Really Think About Death”

Elizabeth Bruenig writes for The Atlantic: Halloween is no approximation of the firsthand experience of death. But it does foreground the visceral fear of death (occasionally via viscera itself). And it offers an opportunity to engage playfully with the idea of dying, through community celebration rather than solemn contemplation—or jarring confrontations with violence in headlines … Read more“This Halloween, Let’s Really Think About Death”

Memoria 2023

Today is the first day of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and the seasons are visibly (and in other ways) shifting. From my own perspective, within my own Way, this marks the unofficial beginning of Memoria; a festival of harvest and remembrance before the onset of the winter months. That festival will “officially” begin when … Read moreMemoria 2023

“Inside the Spiritual Jacuzzi”

I’m reading Carole Cusack’s excellent Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith and am delighted to have discovered the Hot Tub Mystery Religion, intriguingly described in this 2003 Reason.com article by Jesse Walker: Atheists have long regarded religion as, at best, a collective work of art, but in the last century that view has grown popular … Read more“Inside the Spiritual Jacuzzi”

The “Radical Ritual” Series

In 2017, Burning Man’s theme was “Radical Ritual,” and the Burning Man Philosophical Center project produced a series of essays and interviews exploring the place of ritual in modern society. Here’s a section from Larry Harvey’s introductory essay: Is Burning Man a Religion? “The practical needs and experiences of religion seem to me sufficiently met … Read moreThe “Radical Ritual” Series

“By the River”: the Death Hotels of Varanasi

For the people of Varanasi – the holiest of India’s seven sacred cities – death is a blessing. Stretching along the banks of the river Ganges, Varanasi is a place where devout Hindus go to die in the hope of achieving moksha: freedom from the endless cycle of death and rebirth (samsara). ‘Death hotels’ provide a … Read more“By the River”: the Death Hotels of Varanasi

The Toxteth Day of the Dead

One of several distinctly English responses to the Dia de Muertos ethos – see also the Glastonbury Festival of Death and Dying – the Toxteth Day of the Dead is an initiative by musicians/culture jammers KLF (a.k.a. the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, the JAMs and the Timelords, among others). Here’s a BBC audio documentary … Read moreThe Toxteth Day of the Dead