I was lucky enough to be able to go to this year’s All Souls Procession down in Tucson. The All Souls Procession is a local event that occurs every year around Dia de los Muertos and All Saints Day and is geared to help people honor their ancestors, family and community. When I go, I go walk with a local Taiko group that likes to utilize elements from Japan’s Obon celebrations- most notably, Ondo dancing.
Much like the last time that I went, I stared at my prayer form for quite a while before I could even begin to figure out what to write on it. In an effort to get inspiration, I placed it in front of the shrine with some offerings for the gods; which proved ineffective for inspiration. But at least I got their blessing in a way.
I decided to go a different route instead. I decided that I would look at the past year, as though I had gone to All Souls last year, and reflect on how things had changed. This last year has been an adventure and many things have occurred and transformed. Some for the better, some for the worse. I mused on it for a while and ended up writing a short series of statements on my prayer form and folded it into a heart- a double edged symbol for me for the heart represents a lot of my astral work, and its reflection – balls – is a main symbol for Set.
Unlike my last prayer form, which focused heavily on purging the pain from my system and finding some sense of foundation in my crumbling life, this year’s prayer form focused about celebrating the fact that I’m still standing. I have been monitoring the anger and pain I feel for a while now, and I knew that I would be a fool to think that this one ceremony/event would be enough to purge that anger and pain out of me. So instead of even attempting to figure that out, I opted for the latter- focusing on what I’ve got left. While its true that my life has crumbled significantly in the last year, what has managed to survive is beautiful indeed, and I am very grateful that these people and things are still with me even now.
Its worth cherishing and remembering daily. I wanted to really embrace that.
Also like last time, I didn’t experience some sort of earth shattering mind breaking epiphany. However, the event was much more organized and more enjoyable (to me) than the last time I went. We were able to give our dancers enough space to move freely, and the crowd that lined the streets was very supportive and the whole vibe throughout the procession was better. In addition to this, the weather was awesome.
As I stood around waiting for the procession to start (which is about 2 hours of killing time) I listened to the DJ talk about the nature of the Procession. He discussed repeatedly about how the Procession is about experience. You’re there to be in the moment and to be a part of the gathering around you. It’s not about being a spectator or watching from being a camera lens (a problem that I have). To keep true to the nature of that mentality, I didn’t get very many photos. However, you can take a look at the All Souls FB Page, Tumblr, more Tumblr, or some news footage to see some of the variety of costumes and floats.
Much like with the Obon dances I participated in a few years back, this year’s Procession felt very much like I was a part of something more. I felt more connected with the people around me, with the community that came out to watch us, as well as with the other dancers. This year I didn’t stay for the finale of the Urn burning. I was too tired and had to drive back to Phoenix that same night so I decided to leave early. However, I don’t feel like my experience was any less for not staying. I knew that my Prayer Form would be burned in the urn and that I felt secure in my gratitude about what I still had in my life- my friends and family that are still standing with me despite the past year of turmoil.
And that is enough for me.