“Like when a leaf falls from a tree”

Sometimes I think that death is like when a leaf falls from a tree. You look up and hear and see a rustling, colorful mass. But then one breaks free and for a glorious moment (who can say how long it may seem?) that leaf swirls catching light and casting shadows like it never has … Read more“Like when a leaf falls from a tree”

Dear Guardians: A Burning Man Short Film (2014)

From the creator’s website: In 2011, I stood in the shadow of the Temple of Transition. I taped a photograph of my wife’s recently deceased father to the inside of an archway. I roamed her hallways, silent. I witnessed a beauty that brought me to my knees, as Mike Ventimiglia writes: “I don’t know if I’ve … Read moreDear Guardians: A Burning Man Short Film (2014)

Odyssey of the Dead (2019)

According to ceremonialist Daniel Lev Shkolnik: In the oldest story in existence, Gilgamesh crosses the sea of death in search of immortality. In Greek mythology, Charon ferries souls across the river Styx to Hades. In ancient Egypt, departed souls were thought to travel with Ra on the solar bark to reach the sacred field of … Read moreOdyssey of the Dead (2019)

Autumnal Equinox Memorial Altar 2020

I started creating this bookshelf altar during the day and evening of September 22, which was the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The altar features a colorful scattering of dead leaves gathered during my evening walks, a copper string of white lights, a mirror for self-reflection, an incense holder, a small jar of home-mixed … Read moreAutumnal Equinox Memorial Altar 2020

“Dancing with the Dead: Two Techniques for Spiritual Rejuvenation”

Humanist poet, speaker, organizer and ritualist Daniel Lev Shkolnik writes for Patheos on a self-devised memento mori/carpe diem rite: When I pass into a cemetery alone, a calm settles over me. I watch the hawks hunt from the pines. The hares dash through among the stones and the bones of slower hares. The puffball mushrooms … Read more“Dancing with the Dead: Two Techniques for Spiritual Rejuvenation”

“Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan”

Click here to read Sasha Sagan’s 2014 essay for The Cut: My parents taught me that even though it’s not forever — because it’s not forever — being alive is a profoundly beautiful thing for which each of us should feel deeply grateful. If we lived forever it would not be so amazing. In this video, Sasha … Read more“Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan”

The Art of Spontaneous Spectacle

I was delighted to stumble across this ritual firefly procession in honor of the Twilight King during my evening walk last night. The event was arranged and performed by a troupe called The Art of Spontaneous Spectacle, which has been organized by local actors and directors unable to ply their craft in orthodox venues due … Read moreThe Art of Spontaneous Spectacle

Sherlock Holmes Honors the Dead (“Mr. Holmes”, 2015)

In the climactic scene of Mr. Holmes, the titular detective – aged 93 and very near to the end of his own life – mimics a memorial ritual he had witnessed in Japan to honor the deceased. In the context of this story, the scene has a special poignancy in that it seems to contradict … Read moreSherlock Holmes Honors the Dead (“Mr. Holmes”, 2015)

Merlin on Self-Fulfilling Prophesy and Destiny (Knightriders, 1981)

In this scene from George Romero’s messy, mystical, countercultural take on the Arthurian mythos, Merlin (Brother Blue) councils King Billy (Ed Harris) on the tensions between notions of destiny and self-fulfilling prophecy. The clip includes some shots from a later scene in which Merlin’s prophecy (and Billy’s dreams) come true, in the form of a … Read moreMerlin on Self-Fulfilling Prophesy and Destiny (Knightriders, 1981)