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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dia de los Muertos

"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." ~ Lou Reed, "Magic and Loss"

Tonight my little friend Chipmonkey and her Mr. Chipmonkey and I went to the Mission for the Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead Procession.

Me and my friend Flora.

From the website: Over 15,000 people gather to honor our ancestors, celebrating the vitality and richness of today's community. While the ceremony remains true to its Latino roots, the San Francisco procession actively encourages participation by people of all origins.

Bring candles, photos, food, or something that reminds you of a person that has passed away. The altars are community art installations that are intended to change as each person adds something to the hearth.

The Day of the Dead is a unique festival that is the result of 16th century contact between Mesoamerica and Europe. Conceptually, it is a hybrid, owing its origins to both prehispanic Aztec philosophy and religion and medieval European ritual practice.


The air was filled with the most incredible scent: a mixture of candles, burning sage, and the ever-present marijuana. We followed the sound of drumbeats through the streets. The night air was cool and the crowd joyous.

It was lovely to see people holding candles, flowers and photos of their beloved friends and family for all to appreciate and remember.

Wearing your heart on your back.

She was handing out "spirit food" (little colorful cards).

Beautiful glowing glass children inside a simple gallery. Also the silver milagros in the first photo, too.

Soul light.
Good night, San Francisco.


Paris Parfait November 3, 2008 at 2:40 AM  

That must have been fascinating! Thanks for sharing these images. I love the milagros against the red background and the last two photos. Well done, you! xoxox

Amanda November 3, 2008 at 4:20 AM  

How cool! Sometimes I wish I lived somewhere where I could go to events like there without getting on a plane for several hours! Thanks for documenting it for me, though!

willow November 3, 2008 at 4:28 AM  

Wonderful dark, mysterious photos!

A Cuban In London November 3, 2008 at 8:07 AM  

Very good photos, especially the last two!

I knew about this celebration from my Mexican friends. It's really spooky.

Greetings from London.

julochka November 3, 2008 at 8:48 AM  

tell me about the camera in the mirror....

and those cool little metal thingies in the first picture. i want some of those! :-)

sounds amazing and looks like it was a wonderful diversion from campaign madness.

Kath November 3, 2008 at 10:05 AM  

I love the darkness in all the photos. I bet you're getting very excited for tomorrow! I know we are.

tangobaby November 3, 2008 at 12:38 PM  

Hi paris parfait,

Tara, you should have seen that wall of milagros. They were so beautiful and the way the spotlight shone on them made such an effect on me.

We're already planning for next year, so we can dress up. Maybe you can join us?


Hi Amanda,

I'm glad you enjoyed it. There are many bonuses to living in a place where so many cultures intersect. Iappreciate that aspect of my life more and more all the time.

Hi willow,

It was a challenge to take photos. I just can't seem to figure out how to do it at night. So many that didn't turn out but I'm glad you liked the ones that survived.

I think they give a good feel for the evening.

Hi a cuban in london,

It really wasn't as spooky as it might have looked. It felt very comforting, and seeing the love and remembrance of the people for whom the altars and procession had been created was very touching. People walked the streets with candles and photos of loved ones and bunches of flowers. But everyone was smiling.

Hi julochka,

That's my little bitty camera!

The cool little metal thingies were actually a but larger than they appear. They are reproductions of milagros, which are tiny metal votive offerings. These were much larger and filled an entire fabric covered wall.

It was a perfect diversion, and afterwards we went back to my place, ate pints of Ben 'n Jerrys and watched a Penn & Teller video.


Hi kath,

The darkness was a challenge. How do you do with nighttime shots? I really don't have a clue.

I think today all Canadians should be celebrated for that Sarah Palin crank call. I think Americans owe you guys a huge debt of gratitude because I really laughed hard yesterday.

Thank you for caring about us!

Anonymous November 3, 2008 at 1:58 PM  

TB, when I still lived in Mexico, we went to the cemetery, which is the proper place to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. The air was filled with the scent of frankincense, and the ground covered with a carpet of cempasuchitl - or marigolds to you.

Nobody thought anything of having their picnics on other people's tombs.

Yoli November 3, 2008 at 3:58 PM  

How wonderful! So glad you documented this, extraordinary pictures my friend.

Red Shoes November 4, 2008 at 7:59 AM  

Oh my goodness, how beautiful. I absolutely cannot miss this next year...

rochambeau November 4, 2008 at 12:14 PM  

Wish I could have been there with you and the Soul light!!
Like the shot of you and Flora!