My favorite time of year is here, when honoring Day of the Dead celebrations are meant to honor our loved ones who have passed, moving away from consumerism and into the heart space with fond memories. These last few years my sons' and I have been making Calacas ( big paper mache skulls) to walk in a candle lit procession on the night of November 2nd through Boyle Heights to Self Help Graphics for festivities and more.These are made in honor of those no longer with us. This year has been most meaningful for me because one of my dearest friends Kat is able to now share in this special time, without being overcome with grief from the loss of her daughter Lulu Calderon five years ago. Lulu would have been 14 this year, and in her honor my sons and I have been working on Blue Lu, adding more each year. This year I have been working hard completing a body for her, and now I can add a corazon(heart) and mariposas (butterflies) as well as the body of a sweet hummingbird who I found in my studio. The hummingbird symbolizes timelessness and grace, all the attributes I equate with Lulu's short time here.
I would like to extend my deepest condolences for any losses you may have experienced this past year, or any loss you may now be facing. May you be brave souls, and recognize the teachable moments that lie at the root, find your peace and celebrate the cycles of life and death.
In Lak'esh ( I am another you),
An alter should be built with four levels (however small or large) which represent the four seasons, four directions, four stages in life, and the four elements. Here are some suggestions of items to be placed on the alter and what each represent. These items are only suggestions and incorporate more of the Aztec symbolism.
Most important items remain pictures, flowers, and candle.
Stages of Life: corn seeds, fresh corn, dried corn, a tortilla.
Elements: Earth- beans, cocoa, veggies Water- shells Fire-candles Wind- a flute
Rooster Feather: it represents the beginning of each new day.
Frog: symbolizes the twilight of each day.
Money: represents wealth, reminding us that although we always need money,
we also need to be generous with it.
Sugar Skulls: reminding us to laugh about death.
Pan De Muertos: Food for the visiting spirits who will need sustenance
after their long journey from the other world.
Oranges and Apples: The spirits need food, and oranges are their favorite color.
Incense: It clears the air of bad spirits.
Water: It refreshes the souls on their long journey.
Marigolds: The Aztecs believed that the smell could wake the souls of the dead
to bring them back for the festival.
I also wanted to share an article I wrote for Bamboo Magazine last fall, you can access the entire magazine at www.bamboofamilymag.com