Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ars Moriendi: The Art of Dying (part 3)

Every time I go to a funeral it becomes painfully evident of how spiritually disconnected people are. People dispose of their dead in an atmosphere designed to slur over the solemn fact that once brought man into the presence of his God. It's tragic, our Godless culture. Aside from Love, Fear of God and the promise of eternal life or damnation has inspired the greatest works of Art/Music/Poetry throughout the ages!

No one does Death like Roman Catholics! Not since the Egyptians anyway! My Nana was 100% Italian and I went to a Catholic school...I was baptized Catholic, and as far as my Spiritual Quest has taken me off the beaten path...I will die Catholic, just in case! Haha! But seriously, I would like my funeral to be in a Catholic Church. The ceremony is a must for any Sensualist...bells ringing, the sound of choir, the scent of burning candles and frankincense and myhrr hanging in air, gilded gold ornamentation, larger than life sized statues of saints and angels, the Madonna and a bloody Christ! Visitors should reflect in dress the solemnity of the occasion...fancy mourning attire required...and weeping...oh yes, bottle those tears and bury me with them! Haaa! See how fun dying can be? My funeral should be followed by a "green" burial conducted by a WiseWoman (representitive of the Feminine Divine). And then followed by excessive feasting and drinking and laughing...

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I don't think the Catholic church will support a formal canonization because I am a heretic! Haaa! (Although it would if the church was left to Mary Magdelene instead of Paul!) Never the less, I think my heart is worthy of preservation! I would like my heart cut out, placed in a lovely reliquary, and presented to my family. I'm thinking the next Witch in the family would cherish it. Julia DeVille of Disce Mori let me have a sneek peek at her newest creations recently. (I'll do a post when she updates her site) As most of you know she has a line of gorgeous gothic couture Mourning Jewelry and Art Objects. She has added these exquisite Reliquaries to her hold Creamation ashes...or the Heart of a dead Lady Lavona! As you can see, they can be personalized via engraving. So yes, I want one!

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Many of you might already have plans to donate your organs to Science. If laws would permit, I'd donate my skull or something to art! I'd have to know the artist before my death and approve of the project! I've always been fascinated by the bone ossuaries and bone relics of saints!

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Entire skulls or bone fragments of martyrs came to be honored as powerful supernatural objects. These devotional objects were understood to direct the prayers of the faithful to that saint in heaven for their intercession. Sometimes the actual bones are not displayed, but housed in figural sculptures or busts to represent the saints like the ones below.

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I've also heard of people requesting their skulls to be donated to the prop department of their favorite Theatre or Opera House! To be used in productions of Shakespeare's Hamlet perhaps? That's a lovely idea too! If you're not familiar with Hamlet...there is a scene in which Yorick, a deceased court jester from Hamlet's childhood, whose skull is exhumed by a gravedigger. The sight of the skull envokes a monologue from Prince Hamlet on the effects of death.

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This theme of Memento Mori ('Remember you shall die') is common in 16th and 17th century painting, appearing in art throughout Europe. Images of Mary Magdalene regularly showed her contemplating with her book and a skull.

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This also brings to mind the magical works of John W. Waterhouse, his painting titled "The Crystal Ball" in particular. Again, a woman contemplates her Destiny with her Crystal Ball, and like the paintings of Mary Magdalene, a book and a skull is featured in the background.

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Countless artworks of wizards, alchemists, sorcerers and so forth feature the quintessential, archetypical skull, usually resting on a book with a single candle burning atop it. The human skull is probably most archaic of oracles...I would like my descendants to have my skull so they can consult it as an oracle. Although I realize one doesn't need a skull to obtain ancestral does provide a direct link. For example, if my great great granddaughter wants to know if the man she loves is worthy of her affections...I can offer guidance from beyond the grave! I wish I had my grandmother's skull to consult!


WhistlinGypsy said...

Agreed! My body is currently set to go to the bodyfarm in Tenna. but I really like the idea of a heart relic-

Joy Lett said...

Excellent ideas- love your blog- I floundered upon it by accident- or not.

Acacia said...

It is possible to miss someone when they die, and celebrate their life without "spirituality." It's a matter of love, and love is what helps you heal.

I'm an atheist, but when I lost my dad it was love that got me through my mourning, and the memory of his love for me (and mine for him) that still makes me smile. I don't need to pretend that he's waiting for me somewhere after death because the time I had with him was such a marvelous gift.

That said...I love the idea of donating my skull! How cool would that be, to have a piece of you be art. After my organs help others to live, creative people can play with my bones.

Alice said...

Amazing, amazing urns up there. I almost want one to serve food from at a very stylized dinner party...

I'm not crazy about diamonds, but I'm still rather fond of the idea of having one's remains compressed into one. You know, "diamonds are forever"...

Ravens' Wing said...

My sister and I are only sibs- when my mum passed - we had her cremated- and we told her we would keep her ashes with us- she passed away in a small mountain town in Colorado- when we went to the Funeral home to make arragnements - we explained to the very nice young man what our plan was- we had purchased lovely matching steel box photo frames to use for her ashes- the director- was happy to oblige- then he sort of stammered and asked if we wanted to split the ashes or have the Funeral home do it- after a moment with out missing a beat- my sister replied- pointing at me- "well y'all better do it, cause if we do she'll take all the big pieces"- we burst in to hysterics- and the poor fellow was more than a little suprised- still have my 1/2 mom - with me in a lovely ancestors corner of my home - very peaceful- and centering for me- And ohhh the momento mori in Europe is worth the trip alone - also Mexico - there are some folks that rock with the death art- cheers- JoDee

[Tara] said...

I'm loving your series on the art of dying; I posted you as one of my suggested "weekend reads" on my blog!

Renee said...

Your last sentence made me smile.

I totally dig the Catholic mass for the funeral, that is what I am having, only instead of drinking an partying I want them wailing.


Monica of the Masks said...

Thank you for your three posts on "The Art of Dying". Your little sister's story is absolutely heartbreaking, but it seems to me that the time to mourn her was on the fateful day seven years ago, not now when she has finally been set free. I am glad that your own spirituality is giving you such support, and I am sorry that you can't offer that support to your other family.

The past fall, my husband and I were at his Mother's bedside during her last few days, and I was present for much of the funeral arranging process. I was quite utterly astounded by the funeral industry's lack of concern about the environment.

When my time comes, I think I would like to have my friends and family create my coffin together as a paper mache sculpture, it will be my final work of art! But that beautiful gold leaf pod full of feathers you posted about really captured my imagination as well.

Anonymous said...

Grange Hall in Dallas now carries Disce Mori/Julia de Ville!!! They are the only store in the US who carry her work, which is AMAZING!