Los Dias de Muertos: Taos Artists Collective Gallery

By: Contributor
28 October, 2016

By Deb Villalobos

The Taos Artists Collective Gallery (Old Penney’s, next to World Cup) will be hosting an evening to remember the artists and the patrons who have made Taos the place that it is: may we never forget them and the contributions they made.

This year we have lost more than a few, and in past years, some who have set Taos on the map for the artistic contributions they have made. Taos has become a place for some to retire to make art, to add that to the life they have lived.

Many of these we commemorate have made historical contributions that will last for decades and generations, and amplified by the museums we all enjoy. There are those that are aging, and still living who need acknowledgement of their contributions before they are gone.

The Days of the Dead

In Mexico, and from the Aztec especially, it is said: “There are three times one dies. The first time the soul leaves the body, second, when the body is put into the ground, and third when people forget. May that never happen.”

Most people associate the “Day of the Dead” with Halloween. In fact the USA has adopted many things from other, older cultures and countries, from Mexico to the Druids to create a commercialized holiday.

I have opted, for many years, to bring the Mexican culture into the realm of what I can understand about death. The Mexican culture has helped me most with what I can understand and how I might help myself, and others, deal with death.

There is not just one day of the dead, but five.

“Los Dias de Muertos”

Beginning on Oct. 29th.

The descansos, (decorated crosses on the highways one might see, in almost every state now), are for the memory of the people that have been lost to highway accidents. Some may involve circumstances that are not just accidental, but still the loss of their soul (where the soul actually left the body) at the site is what is being commemorated.

On Oct. 30th

Commemorate those who have been murdered, or have committed suicide, as they are considered “unrested” souls. Offerings of food and other various offerings or memories are not on an altar inside the house, rather, outside.

Oct 31st

The day for deceased children. Of that cultural day from Mexico, (along with the Druid culture, of which I know little of) we Americans created our Halloween. Once the people from the villages have decorated their cemeteries and painted head stones, adorned the entrances of the graveyard (this takes weeks before the 29th of October), they cover the childs’ grave with dried marigold petals, and then sprinkle them to lead to the home, so they will find their way. A home altar is filled with toys and favorite food from the deceased, and children are invited to play with the toys of the child who has died.

November 1st

All villagers go to the cemeteries, light candles, sit with each other, pray, eat, but most of all remember and speak with others who have known those who have passed. Laughter in sharing stories is not unusual. Tears flow as well.

November 2nd

All spirits are sent their way back to the ever beyond until next year. Altars and pictures stored away.

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