Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winter begins: Dia de Muertos, Frida Kahlo and Paper Lanterns

Winter is coming and the world seems to be becoming quieter. I have finished my painting of Keridwen. She looks different than I thought She would, not scary but mischieveous. I am having not such a bad Samhain time this year. I feel cosey and looked after and dealing with diffulties when I can and then letting them go and just trying to accept them when I can't.
Last Saturday Mitja and I went into town to get some groceries and stumbled across an exhibition of Dia de Muertos and La Catrina, the mexican tradition of honouring the Dead by setting up colourful altars for them. I was delighted at the sights, the tables were decorated with paperflowers in shining colours, photographs, food, alcohol, skulls, skeletons, sugar skulls, skull candles, bone shaped cakes and loads more. They even had an altar to honour Frieda Kahlo there, which made me quite happy because I admire her. Besides all of the things mentioned above it was decorated with lots of little photographs and prints of her paintings. A mexican lady explained all the decorations to me, how the Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico, how the sugar skulls are given to children, how nobody touches the food on the altars, because their scent is food to the Dead (there was one chicken dish wich they served their Deceased with a sauce made from hot chilies and chocolate!) and also how important Frida Kahlo ist to the mexican people until today. I loved the colours and the vivid energy of the altars. Such a different way from our celebrations at Samhain, Allerseelen and Totensonntag.

The trees have nearly lost their leaves now. When I crossed the Rhine a few days ago, the Seven Mountains were hidden in the mist, the water soft blue and the sky white, blue and pink. It looked totally enchanted. It was very quiet also, because many people who usually walk their dogs and go jogging by the Rhine had stayed in, because it was so cold.

Two days ago while I was working, I suddenly heard a marching band outside. We all left our descs and went to the window, and there were children walking candle-lit paper laterns through the streets. Here in this catholic place they claim it has to do with St. Martin, they even have somebody in a wannabe Roman uniform on horse, rding ahead. But I think it's a pagan thing, come down to us from Samhain lighting lanterns in the darkening season and possibly from making lanterns from beets to either scare away hostile presences or to light the way home to benign ones.
When I cycled home later I saw that many houses and shops had hung out illuminated paper lanterns outside their windows and placed candles in their flowerpots. It looked so beautiful and so pagan.

I love how this is living folklore, autumn is over, winter is beginning, and soon the Wheel will turn towards Yule. I have made fruit bread and christmas buiscuits and Brat├Ąpfel, and in town they are putting up the Christmas decorations.

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