The Rogers Park Black Lives Matter Shrine, Updated

Over the course of the winter, the Black Lives Matter shrine in Rogers Park, Chicago has grown from a gallery of posters and a scattering of flowers and candles into the much more elaborate memorial shown above, complete with an ornate wooden altar. The repurposed Chicago Reader newspaper vending box next to the altar stores … Read moreThe Rogers Park Black Lives Matter Shrine, Updated

“Memorial Ritual and Art: A Case Study and Exploration of the Potential for Healing”

Click here to read Cinder Hypki, Rhonda S. Cooper and Louise Knight’s paper examining the use of ritual in grieving and healing processes: The powerful symbolic and metaphorical nature of ritual is a compelling “medium” unto itself for community artists and cultural workers. “Performance artists” and artist-activists often use elements of ritual to engage and … Read more“Memorial Ritual and Art: A Case Study and Exploration of the Potential for Healing”

“A Very British Day of the Dead”: The Glastonbury Festival of Death and Dying

The Somerset market town of Glastonbury has a long and highly storied history, being closely connected in legend to both the coming of Christianity to England and to a vast stream of pre- and post-Christian “alternative spiritualities”. The modern township includes representatives of some seventy religious and spiritual persuasions and the main shopping district is … Read more“A Very British Day of the Dead”: The Glastonbury Festival of Death and Dying

Spring Equinox Vanitas Altar

Part of my practice is to redesign my vanitas altar according to seasonal themes. Marking the 2021 Spring Equinox, I’ve replaced the skull’s Autumnal caplet of leaves with a caplet of dried flowers and added a peacock feather, which was both an element of some vanitas paintings of the 1700s and, in Western superstition, a … Read moreSpring Equinox Vanitas Altar

The Placebo Magick Podcast on the Metaphorical Afterlife

“Placebo Magick” is Garrison Benson’s podcast series explaining his concept of “magick” from a strictly non-supernatural, psychological point of view; as he says, “magick is a metaphor, and metaphors are magickal”. In this episode he considers the advantages of imaginary afterlives and also the practical legacy lessons to be drawn from this perspective on death … Read moreThe Placebo Magick Podcast on the Metaphorical Afterlife

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Poetic Faith and Nontheistic Spirituality

Nontheistic spirituality or spiritual naturalism are umbrella terms for spiritual disciplines that require no faith in the literally supernatural. Examples include Humanism, numerous forms of atheistic/secular Paganism, Humanistic Judaism, Secular Buddhism, The Satanic Temple’s approach to Satanism and so-on, as well as present-day revivals of ancient philosophies such as Stoicism and Epicureanism. My Way of … Read moreThe Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Poetic Faith and Nontheistic Spirituality

Falling Flower: a Simple Memorial Ritual

Oh, that sweet fragrance of falling petals…. With kind words, it is ended. Farewell. The time to go is now. Lee Hyong-Ki [1963] It may be that the people who would most benefit from symbolic ritual are those who are least likely to partake in it. The inclination towards formal, poetic gestures in moments of … Read moreFalling Flower: a Simple Memorial Ritual

When the Spirit Moves Me: The Mudra of My Way of Life and Death

In devising Mr. Spock’s famous Vulcan salute (“Live long and prosper”), Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy was inspired by the Priestly Blessing performed by Jewish Kohanim. This benedictory gesture represents the Hebrew letter Shin (ש), the three upward strokes of the letter being similar to the position of the thumb and fingers in the gesture. The ritual practice of symbolic gestures is … Read moreWhen the Spirit Moves Me: The Mudra of My Way of Life and Death