SOLD OUT: “The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death” (August/September 2021 Edition)

I’m happy to learn that my upcoming online course via the “Morbid Academy” educational initiative has just sold out. “The Art of Ritual” is a 5-week interactive deep-dive into the counterculture of end-of-life, funerary, memorial and memento mori ritual creation, based on the memento mori ergo carpe diem premise. “Oh, come with old Khayyám, and … Read moreSOLD OUT: “The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death” (August/September 2021 Edition)

Memento Mori Roller Coaster Ritual

Part of my practice is to find memento mori rituals in daily (and not-so-daily) activities. Whether it’s sporadic, regular, spontaneous or planned, the simple act/thought of acknowledging the reality of mortality is good medicine. A lot of that has to do with accepting loss of control. Roller coasters offer an almost unique opportunity to practice … Read moreMemento Mori Roller Coaster Ritual

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

This is my Summer Solstice contribution to the Artists of the Wall 2021 project. It’s a local (Rogers Park, Chicago) tradition extending back about 30 years, when residents started decorating a 600 foot long concrete bench/ barrier between Loyola Park and the Lake Michigan beach. Artists purchase the right to paint sections of the wall … Read more“… with hope that this assemblage of rubble would become a shrine …”

The Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (Online Course)

I will be teaching this upcoming online course via the Morbid Academy, starting August 25: This course explores an emergent, dynamic and positive response to the existential problem of death denial, centered on the simple philosophical premise of “mortality sapience”; that by remembering death, we can learn to seize the day. In that spirit, artists, … Read moreThe Art of Ritual: Changing Ways of Life and Death (Online Course)

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 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

Symbolic Immortality and Mortality Sapience

Terror Management Theory proposes that humans experience a fundamental psychological conflict between the instinct of self-preservation and the understanding that death is both inevitable and, to some extent, unpredictable; a state described as mortality salience. TMT is based on the pioneering theoretical work of anthropologist Ernest Becker, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning 1973 book The Denial of Death … Read moreSymbolic Immortality and Mortality Sapience

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