Dia De Los Muertos in Tacoma

Dia De Los Muertos, translates to Day of the Dead.

Once a little known (to us) observance celebrated in Mexico and Latin America, it has become more prevalent in our society, the predominant culture of which is taught to fear death and the dead.

The closest festival that those of us with Northern European/Gaelic/Celtic ancestry once had is Samhain, which was eventually assimilated by our culture and turned into the modern Halloween which has nothing to do with honoring our ancestors and departed loved ones and everything to do with commercial profit.

Sadly, this is beginning to happen to Dia De Los Muertos as is evidenced by incredibly tacky Halloween costumes on sale, and other misappropriations.

Make no mistake, Dia De Los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween” just like Cinco De Mayo is not “Mexican Independence Day” (it commemorates the battle of Pueblo and achieving victory over French forces against all odds, but that’s a conversation for another day) nor is it about drinking tequila until you puke.

This Huffington Post article speaks to appropriation and misrepresentation of the observance, so rather than wax poetic from upon my soapbox, I shall link it here.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-cubias/dia-de-los-muertos-is-not_b_6056734.html

While appropriation and colonization are very real and serious issues based in devaluing and disrespecting other cultures, the United States has always been known as the “Great American Melting Pot” in which many generations of immigrants from different cultures brought some of their own traditions.

We can learn a lot from other cultures and regain some of the connections to the earth and our ancestors we lost when we all melded into a homogenous culture if we approach it with respect and a desire to learn.

This short video explains the basics of the observance…

The Day of the Dead – A Lot More Than Skulls and Candy

It's definitely not the “Mexican Halloween.”

Posted by AJ+ on Saturday, October 31, 2015

Today, an example of respectful learning and celebration occurred at the Tacoma Art Museum for Dia De Los Muertos.

A colorful event that included education, entertainment, music, activities for children and sacred spaces created for departed loves ones drew people from all over Tacoma and beyond in the spirit of community.

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Offerendas (altars built to honor departed loves ones and ancestors) lined hallways on multiple levels of the museum. Filled with photographs, decorations, memorabilia and often, written explanations about the symbolism and people involved were lovingly built by individuals, families and community groups who took workshops to understand their significance so that they could be created out of love and respect.

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I spoke with a Latina woman who was laying out a lovely offerenda she was decorating with feather headdresses, photographs and items of significance or that were favorite things of her departed loved ones. She told me about her father who had passed only one year ago, and her grandmother and aunt. She sadly told of how quickly “the cancer” took one of her relatives and smiled sharing fond memories others.

I then spoke with a Chinese American woman who wanted to take my photograph since I was in costume and we shared stories of observances in our own pre-United States cultures (in my case, Irish) that were similar to Dia De Los Muertos,

I saw people of all ages, classes, cultures and ethnicities come together to learn, share and remember their departed loves one who live in our hearts and stories. I watched people of diverse political leanings learn about another culture at a deeper and more personal level than before. I witnessed healing.

If you didn’t make it this year, you need to put it on your calendar for next year. I certainly hope that the museum will continue to provide this amazing, free event to the community.

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There is still time to “get your dead on”. Tonight, on 6th Avenue there is a Dia De Los Muertos

Doors will open at the Studio 6 Ballroom Event space, 2610 6th Avenue, at 4:00 PM for face painting, creating and local vendor setup.

At 6:00 PM a procession will move down 6th Ave, many participants carrying paper mache figures they created in workshops.

At 7:00 PM, there will be live music, celebration and activities back at the event space lasting until 9:00 PM.

Come join your community and departed loves ones, for death is not to be feared, it is part of life and the end, is just the beginning.

I leave you with a charming short film showing a little girl discovering Dia De Los Muertos

It’s Almost Time…

It is almost time for the technical run through of tonight’s midnight fire spectacle.

I know I’ll see many (oooh, about 20,000 or so) of you at First Night Tacoma Pierce County tonight to help ring in the new year with music, art, fun and community.

For those I don’t see, I wish you a happy, healthy, safe and totally fabulous New Years Eve!

My plans for 2015 include a lot more quality time with friends, loved ones and chosen family.

More music (making it)

More dance (performance, class and recreational)

More writing

More time spent on positive endeavors and with positive people.

More gratitude.

More game nights (Cards Against Humanity and Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth anyone?)

More hiking, backpacking, cycling, kayaking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and other outdoorsey stuff.

Getting back to healthy eating and more exercise.

Being kinder to myself.

2015?

Bring it!

2014 fire



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New Year Reflections, slide show and holiday card/letter

Happy New Year friends, family and chosen family.

While I don’t normally do “resolutions” (and if I do, I usually do them at the begging of the “Celtic” New year at Samhain in early November), I am ready to kick 2014 to the curb and look forward to 2015 being a new and awesome year.

2014 seems to have been a year filled with more challenge, tragedy, illness, death and trauma for just about everyone I know than any years in recent memory.  (as I write this, one of you is in surgery having a large, rare and malignant tumor removed from around your iliac vein and artery and another also with cancer is planning your own memorial)

Without offering up platitudes which those who are still struggling/grieving may not appreciate, I will just say that for me, that pesky phoenix metaphor holds true.  While just about every area of my life went up in flames (all at once) last year and it seemed overwhelming for a time, it is allowing me a fresh start on a lot of levels.

I enter 2015 in a much better place career wise-I love my job and have benefits again.  Small business, which contributes to society in a meaningful way seems to be my sweet spot between working for a soulless corporation for benefits and working for a non-profit with no competent leadership and no benefits.

While I’m pretty sure the debacle with the scummy mortgage servicer took a year or so off of my life, I ended up in a better position in a modified mortgage which has left me with a 1.25% decrease in interest rate and a 25% decrease in monthly payment.

While I very much appreciate (you’ll never how much that meant to me) those of you who offered to help, it was something I needed to do on my own and the end result was much better than if I had accepted help and tried to deal with the status quo.  It also helped me learn to navigate a corrupt system that is designed to victimize hard working people and reward the worst of the worst 1%.  I am using that knowledge to write a guide to help others who are in the same situation.  I have already been able to use my experience to advise others.

I extricated myself from a “relationship” which made me feel bad about myself every single day (and Yikes! Did I ever wait far too long).  While I still have work to do on myself and my habit of putting my own wants/needs/self-esteem aside in favor of others’ I feel that I am stronger for it and can only hope that moving forward, I am able to make healthier choices for myself.

So yeah, I’m still decompressing from it all, but looking forward, things look pretty darn good.  I managed to “rise from the ashes” once again and sooner or later the scent of singed tail feathers will dissipate.

I plan on filling my life with more friendship, love, hiking, cycling, running, backpacking, music, art and dance.

I wish all of you a happy, healthy, 2015!

I put together my annual year end slide show, which those of you not on Facebook haven’t seen yet.

It just goes to show you that 2014 had a lot of high points despite the challenges, and most of them involved you, my friends and chosen family (a lot of you are in it)

Book update 
I’m still waiting on proofs from the book; I ordered a bit too close to the holiday rush.  I will let you know as soon as they are ready.

New Years Eve – First Night!

Don’t forget First Night on New Year’s eve.  The forecast is for clear and  no snow so once the indoor venues close at 11:30 and everyone moves to the square for our fiery countdown to midnight, it will be comfortable (if you’re dressed warmly, unlike we performers)

My fire siren friends and I will be in the parade with our LED toys as well as in the fire spectacle at midnight.  It’s going to be awesome this year!

An article on first night was just posted in last Friday’s Trib

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/12/26/3554861_fire-food-spectacle-and-music.htm

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For those who didn’t see it on Facebook or receive it by email or snail mail, here is the holiday card and BadKitty’s sarcastic letter.

holiday card 2014

holiday letter 2014

Family, Love, Loss and Magic at Christmas

Tis the season.

The season of love, joy and family.

It is the season of shared traditions.

For many, it is the season of melancholy.

Many (far too many this year) are spending their first holiday without a parent, loved one, beloved pet or child who has passed from this earth (losing a child to an early, unfair death or suicide… I can’t even imagine)

I was reading a Facebook post of a friend of mine today who asked if she was the only one who felt melancholy at this time of year.

She mentioned that she wished she had known as a child how precious those holidays with family were despite the fact that even though they were Jewish, they gathered at Christmas when they were free from work and school obligations and spent quality time together.

As many of us are wont to say, “Hug your loved ones; tell them that you love them, for you never know when it will be the very last time.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I do my best to distract myself from the fact that I have no immediate family (I do have some cousins in other states) and that due to my own abusive, dysfunctional, upbringing in an alcoholic household, I have been unable, as an adult to form a lasting functional romantic relationship/partnership (Wow, do I ever “pick wrong”)

I host holiday gatherings with chosen family (which in cases of severe dysfunction, neglect or abuse can be preferable to and healthier/safer than blood family)

I try to make sure that anyone who finds themselves alone at this often emotionally challenging time of year for whatever reason, knows that they have somewhere to go.

I cook, bake, decorate, send out cards and letters and try to give back to my community.

But in the end, there is still, always, that sense of aloneness, of being different-not in that cool, quirky, creative way, but in that “there is something wrong with me kind of way”.

Tonight, I will be cooking a holiday feast for friends/chosen from all walks of life, relationship statuses and faiths (or lack thereof)

I am going to hug them and let them know that I love and appreciate them, because we never know what someone else may be going through inside and because we never know when it will be the last time we have the chance.

I encourage everyone to do the same.

Family eating Christmas dinner

And just to end this rather serious reflection on a positive note, I offer up one of my favorite, past Christmas experiences.

“One Perfect Christmas Moment in Tacoma”

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Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.
I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

One Christmas morning, many years ago whilst living in Tacoma’s Stadium District, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.
Music, bells, magic.

Stadium is an historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

church-bells-e1279649509747



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New Online Store, All In Stock Hand Thrown Pottery and Hand Blown Glass is On Sale Now!

I’ve recently moved the online store from Artfire to my website.

To celebrate, everything is on sale NOW!

http://wildcelticrose.net/shop/

me and pots



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Black Friday, A Sad Day Indeed

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An elderly woman is knocked to the ground and trampled as a crowd races past; one person turns to help her and is swept away in the mob, only to be injured himself. Two other men begin to beat and kick each other; soon the violence escalates into what has been described as a “small riot” as the pain and suffering of the injured seems fade away into a surreal sea of bodies.

Are people fleeing an attack? Is this a natural disaster? Are people starving and fighting for survival for themselves and their families? What crisis could possibly make human beings behave this way towards each other?

Sadly, the answer is greed.

This disgusting display did not happen in a third world country or a disaster zone. It happened in the affluent community of South Hill Washington where all people could think of was their own need for material things at the expense of the health and safety of others and even their own dignity.

Sadly, this scenario played out over and over again all across this “great’ country of ours, as people left their homes and families in the cold, dark wee hours of the morning in order to beat others to holiday sales and deals, resorting to violence when they deemed it necessary.

The Tacoma News Tribune decided to print an editorial about how stores should do a better job of stocking their shelves in order to prevent this from occurring.

Are the stores taking advantage of people’s most base instincts? Yes. Do they contribute to the problem because all they care about is sucking people in to spend money on other things? Yes.

But the fault lies with society and the never ending need that many feel to drive a bigger SUV, have a bigger TV screen and to show the neighbors how successful they are all the while driving themselves deeper into credit card debt. Yeah, it’s great for the ten minutes while the presents are ripped open, and people get “everything that they wanted”, only to be let down later, when the weeks (Oh wait, MONTHS, this started before Halloween this year) of anticipation and build up fade away with nothing of substance or resembling the intended holiday (s) left.

What ever happened to gathering with family and friends to share the joy of whatever holiday or tradition one celebrates and actually thinking about what the holiday means? Does greed and a mob mentality celebrate any of the miracles of the season? Does it celebrate the lamps that burned for eight days which is celebrated at Hanukkah or the return of the light at Solstice? Can anyone say that this has anything to do with the birth of one tradition’s Messiah at Christmas or the reclaiming of another groups heritage at Kwanzaa? No. This new “tradition” is as far from the sacredness of any of these celebrations as anything could possibly be.

No amount of product availability, rain checks or security is going to change the underlying problem of greed and complete disregard for anything other than instant gratification.

Even worse, the greed of the big box retailers is getting even worse, as they are not forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving day (the most popular holiday in our country to spend with friends/family/loved ones) by not only moving their sales up to midnight buy by now, opening their stores on Thanksgiving day and threatening any employee that refuses to work with termination.

In addition to obvious greed and mob mentality, some single mothers have to tell their children that they can’t be home to celebrate thanksgiving with them because if they want to keep a roof over their heads, they have to go to work. People may miss out on the last Thanksgiving in which their parents or grandparents will be alive.

I find this disregard for the families of underpaid, over stressed employees even more disgusting than the mob mentality its self.

I am happy to say that rather than engaging in this disgusting display, I will again, share a day with many friends, (who will be receiving home made gifts), decorating a tree with hand cut snowflakes each visitor made with love and wrote wonderful messages on, sharing food, hospitality and spending another day being thankful for what we do have. Many of us also spend this day gathering clothing, blankets and food for those who have less. Yes, it is possible to be thankful more than one day a year and to give back to our community.

Don’t get me wrong, although I do make almost all of the gifts I give, I will purchase a small gift or two for those closest to me, something that will make them smile and that will decorate their home, help them enjoy one of their favorite hobbies, or keep them warm in the winter. They will be modest, purchased from retailers who care for their employees and contribute to their communities, and I will most certainly not behave like an animal in order to get them. I will also not give my business to a retailer who is forcing their employees to miss time with their families.

I pity those who are part of the Black Friday mob. They don’t realize it, but they are the ones missing out.

~L

One Perfect Christmas Moment

~
Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.

I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

On Christmas morning, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.

Music, bells, magic.

I live in an old, historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

~L



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St Patrick’s Day or Irish Day?

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Today is the day in which everyone claims to be “Irish” for a day. (Oh, did you know that St Patrick is believed to have been of Welsh descent?)

It’s a day where many of the self proclaimed Irish go out and drink too much and often behave like idiots. Much like New Year’s Eve, St Patrick’s Day is often considered “amateur night” due to the sheer volume of drunken idiots out getting their party on.

Like New Years Eve, it’s certainly not a night I’d be out on the road risking my life driving with the idiots, especially not on a night when I have things to do the next day.

And then there’s the big debate (OK, it’s a big debate in some circles) as to if the alleged “snakes” that St Patrick supposedly drove out of Ireland really refers to the serpent symbol favored by the druids as he helped (forcibly) covert the country to Christianity.

I know many good pagan folk that boycott the holiday because face it, driving the earth centered religion out of the land isn’t a very nice thing to do so why “celebrate” it? (Hmmm, sounds a bit like US Thanksgiving doesn’t it?)

I know many peace loving people of Irish descent who wear red to protest the blood shed by religious war in Ireland and do not participate in the activities.

I know other people who wear Orange on the day in support of Irish Protestants.

It’s not only a holiday in which people often over indulge, but it is one that has some serious social, political and religious issues attached to it.

I’m becoming a fan of the term “Irish Day” rather than “St Patrick’s Day”. Although I am of Irish descent (and Scots and Welsh among others) I am not Catholic (nor Christian) and the only “saint” I have any relationship with is Brigid who was a Goddess long before she was canonized, and her flame is still tended in Kildare Ireland. (Interestingly enough, by nuns)

I wear green, not to choose a “side” but because I don’t necessarily want to be pinched. (oh, and I’ve been told it looks good with my hair color) and because, hey why not appreciate it for the Americanized celebration it is.

I often run in the Tacoma and (bigger and crazier) Seattle St Paddy’s Day races, which are about community and tradition (and good healthy fun/earning one’s beer) and attend Celtic festivals in Seattle and Tacoma.

I’m going to celebrate “Irish Day” and let everyone else celebrate (or not) as they see fit. (much like I celebrate US Thanksgiving as a day to give thanks and share with friends rather than pretend that atrocities were not committed against the first nations people)

I enjoy Celtic music and a Guinness as much as anyone. Two years ago, I walked to my neighborhood pub to listened to some music, drank a Guinness (no sitting, it was standing room only), realized that it was too loud/noisy/crowded to talk to anyone or get another beer without waiting for an hour, went home early (did I mention that 5:00 AM wakeup call?) and and watched “The Secret of Roan Inish”

For the last two years, I decided to forgo the crowds and am instead hosting a small gathering of local friends & neighbors to drink Draught Guinness (the fun kind in the can with the C02 cartridge that looks so pretty in the glass) eat home cooked pulled pork (way tastier and healthier than corned beef) some live music and perhaps we will also watch “The Secret of Roan Inish”, a truly charming Irish tale.

I hope everyone enjoys this day and that they do so responsibly; please don’t drink and drive and risk your life or the life of some innocent person on the road.

~L

Mood: Amused



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