“… with hope that this assemblage of rubble would become a shrine …”

My new article for OnlySky Media is a memoir of my year-long experiment in public art/memorial: In 2015 I moved to Rogers Park, and during the Summer Solstice of 2021 was inspired to join the Artists of the Wall project. I painted my roughly four-foot section of the wall a midnight blue, and upon that field … Read more“… with hope that this assemblage of rubble would become a shrine …”

Riverside Shrine

Since moving to our new riverside neighborhood, I’ve been in the habit of leaving small memorial tokens – leaves, pieces of bark, twigs, etc. – on this tree stump along the river pathway. Very occasionally, there’s been evidence that others are likewise leaving items on the stump, though their purpose is unknown to me. This … Read moreRiverside Shrine

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

“Start Your Own Religion” (Timothy Leary, 1967)

An excerpt from this classic of the ’60s counterculture: How to Start Your Own Religion First, decide with whom you will make the voyage of discovery. If you have a family, certainly you will include them. If you have close friends, you will certainly want to include them. The question, with whom do I league … Read more“Start Your Own Religion” (Timothy Leary, 1967)

A Pictorial Memoir of the Pixie Land Fairy Castle

I recently came across the Pixie Land Fairy Castle on an evening walk along the Ronan Park River Trail. (If he stays still, I might not spot him …) The Castle featured colorful flags, judiciously-placed pinecones, an array of painted stones and several fairies. Sadly, when I visited the spot last night, the Pixie Land … Read moreA Pictorial Memoir of the Pixie Land Fairy Castle

“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

“My Dead Mother, the Tree That Never Was: The Psychology of ‘Green Burial’ Practices”

Jesse Bering writes for the Scientific American on the psychology of green burial practices, especially regarding the psychological mechanism of essentialism: I’ll go out on a limb here and say that even if one doesn’t believe in some ethereal or religious version of the afterlife, it’s rather difficult to escape the cognitive illusion that the … Read more“My Dead Mother, the Tree That Never Was: The Psychology of ‘Green Burial’ Practices”