Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dia de los Muertos Altara


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It's been really nice to have the nature table set up in the dining room. It has become a real part of the house in a wonderful way. In the past, I have decorated an altar in my bedroom for the seasons, including Day of the Dead/Halloween/Samhain but it is really nice to have it in the main living space. Part of the idea of a traditional Mexican altara is that it is a place where the spirits of the beloved dead can come and visit the family, be invited back into the home. Having the seasonal table in the main living area really does that better than having it in my own room.

The altar cloth is a piece of crochet my mother's mother's mother made. On it is a Virgen of Guadalupe candle, seasonal nuts, leaves and feathers and a couple other candles.

The photos in the upper display are of my mother's mom and dad (Grandma Jean is still alive, but this was the best picture I could easily find of my grandfather), my mother's father's mother, Myrtle, and my dad's dad at sea in WWII.

Pictures of two family dogs, Lacey and Lucky are here as well as a little black lab figurine representing a number of other dogs I've known and loved who are no longer living.

On the left is a postcard I bought at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts. One of the coins is a Canadian coin with a polar bear on it. Samhain seems like an excellent time to remember the individual animals and entire species that are no longer living thanks to Western culture's actions and practices. The fossilized ammonite brings this same thought, only with more focus on the natural cycle of birth and death even beyond the individual level.

There is a wooden owl behind the red candle, almost under the oak leaf. Owls are often used to symbolize the passage of spirits into the underworld, and are always symbols of wisdom, knowledge and the people who seek those attributes.

There is a piece of tangarine quartz laying on the crocheted cloth. I chose it specifically because of its festive orange color, but tangarine quartz is also known for its healing properties. It is said that tangarine quartz can help a person see the underlying order in an apparently chaotic world and find compassion for the events and people who bring sadness or pain. It is said to help a person be able to leave the past in the past. All of these sound like excellent qualities to be mindful of during this season of commemorating the dead and working through grieving and questions about death.

My jade buddha is there on the right and the copper colored ganesh is over on the left. They, along with the namaste and gratitude engraved stones are pretty much always gonna be here :)

The skull card is an invitation to a Halloween party.

How do you celebrate Day of the Dead? What do you, or would you, put on your altara?

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Halloween 2008: When the Veil Between the Worlds is Thin

Halloween 2009: What Do You Really Want to Be?

Halloween 2010: Doggy Heaven (one of my all time favorite posts - it still makes me choke up a little every time I read it) and The Power of the Dog.

Halloween 2011: Day of the Dead

The Full Death Moon 2009 post mentions the Halloween season and the posts Martinmas and Nurturing Warmth at Martinmas are about another holiday associated with this point in the Wheel of the Year.

1 comment:

Nar said...

Beautiful! I love the Day of the Dead. This year I plan to set up a very special ofrenda for a spirit with whom I really want to visit.

To answer your question on my blog, my birthday is in August, but I was an early baby. My mother's due date was in September. I'm a Leo with Virgo rising. :)