When fire and skulls dance in the sky, and painted faces walk on by. When shadows grow and the dead move on, we honor life with darkness and song...we remember, we remember, we remember: a night at BareBones
It was a hard year. We lost many people in our lives. The deaths hit my husband and I, and our parents hard. For me, as a child growing up and always moving, I never had a sense of home other than the memory of visiting my grandparents back in Oregon and New Jersey. It was comforting to know they were there, awaiting my next return. Today with them gone, I lack grounding, a place ready for that return. One death in particular that hit me the hardest, was the death of my grandma. When shit hit the fan I knew I had my grandma Shirley.
I remember the long calls to my grandma after a bad day of work. I could vent about any situation and no matter what, she would build me up. She would remind me of my accomplishments while taking my side in the matter, 'don't you let them bully you Allison. You have Jacobson blood in your bones. We are tough as nails.' Let me tell you, Jacobson blood is as tough as it gets, and as proof, there is even a creek named after her father, Great Grandpa Jake, in the Grand Tetons- a badass story for another day.
Today, I accidentally dial my grandma in the car, another woman answers, "hola?” I hang up. Hot pools of tears fill my face and displace makeup. Her number has moved on. I panic and look around, making sure commuters do not spot me crying- I hate crying and being watched, ask anyone. I prefer crying alone. It is the Jacobson blood. We are proud people. I get my shit together and think of the Tetons. I am in the car, looking around, and it is the changing of seasons. Fall is coming and the smell of earth rises. Things are dying, or preparing for dormancy. They will come back in the spring; yet my grandma will not, she is gone; there will be no rebirth.
How does this death tie into BareBones? It goes back to a cold night last year, the day before Halloween.
During the BareBones puppet show, my friends and I were sitting on bales of hay, sharing a blanket and drinks while watching skeletons light up the night's sky, the trees were moving in the background's wind, and fire with music echoed against the St. Paul cliffs. There is a point during this puppetry performance where people shout out names of those who have died, in remembrance. There is always that asshole who tries to be funny and yells dead celebrities. This year it was Michael Jackson. My Grandma would refer to those people as "dig me's".
A "Dig Me", according to Grandma, is a person who steals the spotlight, to let everyone know how funny, witty and amazing he or she is.
Once the "Dig Mes" were done, people began yelling out the names of those who have passed, in a more respectful tone. There is always a lot of crying. That year, I had a long list-so chickened out and kept quiet. I knew if I yelled out my list, I would cry again. After the remembrance of the dead, spectators are encouraged to sing 'we remember', as the puppets dance in skeletal form and move onto the next circle of life, death. We are going back to the earth: life and death, as above so below-oceans and ships.
As you may have guessed by now, I do not believe in Heaven, nor do I believe in God or even the Devil as one may refer to in the Holy Bible (I am also aware that the "devil" has many metaphorical meanings to many people). However I am at peace and respectful to all beliefs within reason. NO there are NOT virgins awaiting your kamikaze decisions.
In regards to death, I am incredibly fascinated with death rituals: Monk sky burials, Egyptian wailing women hired for show, Viking boats, and the Ma Nene ceremonies etc. Although I may not believe in the core reasoning of these ceremonies, I do believe that people can heal in ceremonial processes. For those of you looking for ritual, peace and closure, I recommend BareBones. OR if you just like bad ass puppets, fire and community art, this is for you too. Please don't be the 'Dig Me'.
A little background on BarBones: It is an Annual Outdoor Halloween Extravaganza and has a large underground cult following. It is also a non-profit performing arts collaborative and ceremony that can help cope with death. It began in 1993 and is a public Halloween event for all ages, allowing people to come together and celebrate the circle of life as we head into winter (insert GOT reference, then move along).
As night falls upon the city, people gather from all over Minnesota to seek the dark night full of skulls, music and puppets on Hallows Eve.
To begin, you walk down a steep path towards the Hidden Falls Regional Park (note that locations may change). At the base, you are greeted by giant skeletons, papier-mâché puppets, along with stilt-walkers and rings of fire. You make a donation to the cause then head down to the hay bails at the base of the falls. Last year we watched Metamorphosoup:
The emotional investigation of the process of loss – loss of community through conflict, loss of a loved one by death and loss of oneself as we flow through grieving. We mourn the violence, conflict, ill distribution of resources and loss that has splintered our communities and disintegrated the process of growth. Like a volcano we erupt in raw, fiery anguish.-BareBones
Here is the portion about the honoring of those who passed; BareBones say this in a much more eloquent manner:
The pageant always includes a section where members of the audience are invited, through a public naming ceremony, to honor friends and relations who have passed on. Everyone is also offered a chance afterward to honor the dead privately with the help of artistic installations such as labyrinths and “hungry ghost” altars set up on the pageant site. After the performance, the audience joins the cast in enjoying hot food and drink served by Sisters’ Camelot, Minneapolis’ free organic food distribution collective, and raucous dancing with live music performed by local bands including Gypsy Brass-Americana party legends, the Brass Messengers. -BareBones
TIPS BEFORE YOU GO:
- Bring cash for donation
- Dress warm
- Bring a blanket and a drink
- Pets are not allowed
- Come early for parking and a good seat
- Wear good shoes, you walk down a steep hill
- Do not be a "Dig Me" or my Grandma Shirley will haunt your ass
- They have an areas for wheelchairs, hearing impaired etc.
- You can volunteer!
- WEBSITE HERE: http://barebonespuppets.org/
After going to BareBones for a few years, I have had a better connection to my emotions and feelings with death. Allowing for closure is critical. I think that closure for agnostics/atheists really mean, knowing you will never have closure. Consciously wrapping your head around emotion, that is ever flowing and changing with age. You realize it does not go away, it just matures.
In my opinion, today we treat emotion such as sorrow, like we would a cold. I say It is not a cold, and you cannot "get rid of it", it is a real mental battle. It reshapes who you are and how you make decisions, along with how you are going to take charge of your life afterwards. It can also be detrimental to your health if not faced head on.
Although I am not a therapist, with balanced ritual comes healing. This year please go to BareBones. I hope that BareBones can become a place of personal ritual and healing for you whether it is for a cat or a family member. You can even go as an annual event that you attend every-year for fun.
If you feel so inclined, I would be interested to hear about the creation of your own personal rituals and if you use travel as a source of coping and healing with life's tragedies. Please feel free to post...
This is dedicated to my Grandma Shirley, my best friend. May her spirit take part in the earth's life cycle as does any living creature that lived on this tiny and insignificant planet. If you still have a grandma, make sure you give them as many hugs and kisses possible.