Monday, October 20, 2008

Real Life inspires: Commune with the people you miss - Day of the Dead

We all miss someone who has died. When I've lost someone who is dear to me, I create an altar for them at my home in Real Life. On the altar, I place many things that I know that they loved, such as their favorite foods, candies, and wine or beer and even cigarettes, books that they enjoyed, a piece of jewelry that they wore, and so on. I add photographs, seasonal flowers - though marigolds are the most appropriate because it is said that they make it easier for the soul to find its way to the altar because of their scent - and candles.

I erect the altar somewhere I spend a lot of time, and over the course of a few days, I get to feeling like I've had a good visit with my lost loved one. For me, it is a healing experience.

Skeletons and skulls abound in Second Life, and I'll be blogging about two very notable skeletons soon, but I often wonder why I have never seen an NPIRL altar of any kind. This would certainly be a good time of year for it.

Late October is when Mexicans are busy preparing altars in their homes, businesses, schools and even their government offices to commemorate the Day of the Dead, a celebration of sorts that actually takes place over the course of two days: November 1 and 2. Many Mexicans believe that it is possible during these 48 hours to commune with the souls of their dead, and they approach the opportunity with a festive air, and even wish each other a Happy Day of the Dead.

Nicho de la virgen decorated for El Dia de los Muertos by peppergrasss

Bakeries and candy makers produce industrial quantities of candied skulls made out of sugar, and candle makers sell out on long-burning glass-encased votives.

Sugary by A30 Tsitika

Dia de los Muertos by groovehouse

Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) would have likely had a field day in Second Life®, for he was the Mexican political cartoonist, engraver and illustrator who popularized images of skulls and skeletons having a frolicking good time.

On November 1 and 2, Mexicans gather at the cemeteries with flowers, candles and food and actually celebrate their dead. In some communities, such as many of the small villages in Oaxaca and Morelos, there is a procession and a great deal of singing and even dancing. The smell of burning incense envelopes the gravesites and you can hear the people speaking with their dead and catching them up on everything that has happened over the course of the year.

Oaxaca - Dia de los muertos celebrations by Pimousse Pix

In Real Life, the altars can be large or small, simple or incredibly elaborate, taking many hours to assemble.

I would welcome the opportunity to visit any and all kinds of altars in Second Life, but would of course be especially interested in altars that would Not be Possible in Real Life. If you know of one, please do give us a heads up, would you?

Altar by DelScorchoSauce

Dia de los Muertos altar by Slack-a-gogo