Instead of our usual Euro-centric celebration of All Hallow Eve here at The Cosmicomicon, this year we've decided to do something a little bit different, and focus on a holiday that not only treads heavily on the Dark Plane, but jovially embraces the idea of Death much more than Halloween ever dared. This ain't about Stingy Jack. This is about something far more eldritch...
Trick-or-treating in nearby South Pasadena on Wednesday night aside, for our annual TC holiday posting, we've traded hollowed-out gourds for sugar skulls. Scary rubber masks for skeletal makeup (rendered exquisitely by Ivy, as per usual). October 31st for November 1st and 2nd. We're going New World Old(est) School.
For 2012, The Cosmicomicon is giving a nod to the Aztecs, and celebrating Dia de los Muertos, known to us pasty-ass Anglos as Day of the Dead. This practice of honoring - indeed, celebrating, in a refreshingly jovial way - the dearly departed was discovered by Spanish explorers (invaders) round about 500 years ago, and was deemed by the staunch Catholic interlopers as a heretical practice by the newly arrived Culture Marms. Although his work is under lock and key, give Octavio Paz some love here.
Culturally, what followed is pretty standard - the attempt to systematically wipe-out a purportedly "pagan tradition" that had nurtured the incredibly advanced Aztec people for over 3,000 years. Various forms of Dia de los Muertos (obviously named something different in the Aztec tongue) had been observed by millions of adherents in the Western Hemisphere whilst East Hem Europeans were pissing in caves and trying to grasp the concept of proper clothing and agriculture. Didn't matter. Once the Europeans arrived, this horrid tradition had to be stomped. They tried. So many died... But the tradition survived, somehow, thank the gods....
With such a vast gulf of historical time, The Day of the Dead immediately conjured images of Egyptian and Sumarian death rituals that reenforces my shakily supported contention that the exceptionally advanced rise of Mediterranean (Atlantian) culture during the B.C.'s had offshoots in the Western (and Eastern) Hemisphere, belying contact betwixt the two far flung land masses. But I digress... Prehistorical alien interaction, and all of that.... Someday the TC will go there, but let's stay on topic, shall we?
|The Gawking Dead: Ives, T.E., Fish, shopping for terminally expired trinket|
Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed. The celebration takes place on November 1 and 2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.
Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil, Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain, there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.
This embrace of a Aztec/Mexican celebration of death is only fitting, as Grau Haus perches on a sturdy, palm-shaded cliff on the far northeast corner of Los Angeles, home to a mostly Latino population (currently weathering a slow onslaught of hipster gentrification). This is Brown Town, and us interlopers are just paying rent.
|I'd die for these two stunning Dead Girls.|
Just across town - about 20 minutes on the 101, sans traffic - nestled under the shadow of the damnable Siren Sign on the hill, is Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the final resting place for the human remains of Rudolph Valentino, Peter Lorre, and Douglas Fairbanks (as well as a grip of well-appointed Armenian, Russian, and Jewish folk). This is the spot where Ives, Fish, and I (and various family and friends) spent most of our last two summer Saturdays, frolicking amongst the carefully interred dead, enjoying amazing DJs, popping corks, and watching an array of interesting films via Cinespia.
Anyhoot, let me stop clacking, and bust forth with the Day of the Dead pictures, which are far more compelling than any of my blathery verbiage.
Thank you for reading so far. Let the gallery begin:
|Wrasslin' with The Serpent. Adam ain't got shit on me. I even took off my jacket. That's commitment, folks.|
|It's probably just an octopus (and delicious ceviche ingredient), but to me, it's most definitely You Know Who.|
|The Tourist (in the oddly bunched jacket) and the Resident.|
|The Shambling Mound (of Yarn).|
|St.. Bruce Lee, Deliverer of Death With a Single Blow, Patron Saint of "All Good Cretins Go to Heaven." The first poster I ever tacked to my wall was of this man.|
|Soul Sister of Ives.|
|When I saw this, I immediately thought of my favorite Atheist S. T. Joshi... and the bones of finches.|
|Grinning Angel of Death. The epitome of Day of the Dead.|
|A Gathering of The Ancients|
|Escorting the Bride of Death down the aisle to meet her Groom.|
|A beautiful embrace of the roots.|
|A Portal, melding the new with the profoundly old.|
|Posing with a monger of dead cuties. Fish picked out a Burtonesque zombie kitten. Of course she did.|
|Mausoleum winds beneath my wings.|
|Partially enveloped in in the Eternal Mysteries.|
|Guardian Angel and respectful Seeker. Leg cocked to stay off hallowed ground.|
|A relative, hanging with the nuclear family.|
|Bro time with a true Nightmare.|
|The Girls of Grau Haus, posing with a Ghoul obviously hiding his giddiness under his sombrero.|
Happy Dia de los Muertos, my Mexican/Mestizo brothers and sisters, and all those getting up to speed (like me). Hail the Dead. Hail the Living. Hail the Living who honor the Dead and those who are unafraid to look into the Ultimate Abyss and smile, unafraid of the adventure to come. May I be one of those brave souls someday.
BTW, Ives, Fish, and I have tentative plans to set up an Alter Site at the Hollywood Forever Day of the Dead fandango next year. If we have the time and gumption (read as: time between ever-present deadlines), trust that it'll rep all the best of Weird fiction, Lovecraftiana, and a beautifully rendered (have you SEEN Ives' design work?) tribute to the sad beauty of those persons, places, and things that have shrugged off this plain and stepped boldly into the mysterious environs of the Great Beyond.
(please explore Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz for a) amazing poetry, and b) some damn fine background on Dia del los Muertos)