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All Souls 2013

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.

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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Astral, Hypnosis & Inner Work, Rambles

 

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All Souls

Prayer Form

Blank Prayer Form

Last weekend I got to participate in a local event called the “All Souls Procession”. It’s a play off of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is a big deal down here in the southwest. The idea came from an artist who was coping with loss of a loved one- and it exploded into this huge thing (as I understand it). People come from all over to join in this procession- walking with hundreds (thousands) of others to remember those who have gone before us.

I joined in with a local taiko group who treats the event very similarly to Obon- a Japanese festival which also happens to honor your dead. Very similarly to Dia de Los Muertos (and Feast of the Beautiful Valley), Obon is characterized by visiting graves of those who have passed and sharing a meal with said people. It is also characterized by dancing- which is what this group does in the procession.

Besides the procession itself, I think the most important part of this festival is the burning of the Urn. Every participant is asked to print out and fill out a Prayer Form. This form will then be put into a huge urn which is burned at the end of the evening. Everything that you were doing led up to this point- the burning of the urn. The letting go of whatever you had put onto the form. Letting go of the past.

To prepare for this, I printed out my form a week in advance. I placed it on my altar (heh) and let Set and Asar stand on it. Giving it their awesome ju-ju. I placed my Obon towel on the form- hoping that maybe something would click for me (I seriously didn’t know what to write). The night before the procession, I offered the gods fake wine, hot tea and cupcakes (which Set is reputed to like). I sat there and looked at my paper- trying to figure out what to write. I’ve had a lot happen lately, and there are a lot of things I want to let go of. With that, there are a lot of things that I want to celebrate and am looking forward to. I’m a very mixed person right now. Eventually, after a lot of thinking, I figured out what to write on the form. I folded it up high school note style and left it at the feet of my gods.

The day of the procession was hectic. I was hoping things would have gone smoother, that I would feel this aweHakama Tying inspiring magic of it all. But really? It didn’t happen. I was rushed, tired, and running on next to nothing. After walking the procession, I was even more tired and low on food options. It was freezing and all I wanted to do was curl up in a nice warm bed. However, this made me think about the recently popular topic of trial work and pain in ritual. Shouldn’t letting go involve some work? Perhaps be a bit uncomfortable? Is there anything really wrong with that? I mean, I am asking the gods to help me unload a bunch of crap off of my chest- the least I can do is keep my chin up while going through the process.

Walking the procession was interesting. There were people who were jerks, there were people who were really awesome. There we a couple of people who started to learn the dance and would dance with us- which is the way Obon should be. In that regard, it was awesome. During the procession, there are two parts where you walk through underpasses. In these sections, people scream and holler. It’s absolutely deafening- but for me, it was the best part. The energy, you couldn’t escape it.

At the end of the night, I was tired and grumpy. I seriously questioned why I would want to do this- freeze my butt off and walk all this way just to watch a big ball of flames. But I told myself to give it time and that perhaps in time things would be better and I would understand more about why I did this. I think that has happened. Since burning my paper (which was so full of energy I could barely touch it) I have finally decided that I need to get my health in order. I’ve worked on a list of priorities for things I need to get done. I feel like things are moving, however slowly, and that somehow burning my paper really did help me.

All in all, I do think that this was a good experience. I learned that I will be doing things a little differently next year, but the fact that I say “next year” says something, I think. I want to continue this, I want to make this a part of my yearly ritual calendar, and I want to be a part of something larger than me. I can’t wait to walk next year.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Kemeticism, Shintoism

 

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