Tucson All Souls Procession 09

November 9, 2009

We walked in the Tucson All Souls Procession last night.  We took pictures this year – here’s my set, and from any of these you can link to Flickr’s ALL SOULS PROCESSION group and see more photos from other people.


A big crowd this year, and more spectators than usual.  This event is 20 years old and began as a small procession (so obscure that I never heard of it during the two years I lived in Tucson in the early 90s).   I’ve only attended for the past four years, and during that time it has become a major, heavily-publicized event.  It’s actually TWO events – the procession and the finale.  The procession is open to anyone and is a fascinating showcase for creativity of all kinds – costumes and masks, sculpture, carettas (mobile altars, floats or art), ritual objects, music, and dance.  As was probably inevitable, it appears to be gradually losing its original focus (a memorial procession to honor dead friends, family, and ancestors) and becoming a more generalized public costume party, but there is still enough of the “community deathwalk” aspect to be very powerful.  It starts slowly and often rather solemn.  But when the mob makes the “Underworld passage” through the Fourth Avenue underpass, it conjures the spirit of the Oldest River with a cacophony of howls, ululations, thundering drums, and clanging bells…and all the invisible things riding the night air are drawn through in a gust of wind, scattering on the other side as the crowd becomes quieter and more relaxed, and people move a little faster and more freely. 

The Urn heads the procession, but the burning of the Urn no longer serves any ritual purpose, since the Finale has evolved into a theatrical spectacle of its own that includes firespinners, acrobats, and musicians.  The logistics of this event make for a very long wait in the crowd after the end of the procession.  I have seen it once, but I am not fond of theatrical performance for its own sake, so I prefer to just enjoy the procession and go home.

Jaguar Costume


3 Responses to “Tucson All Souls Procession 09”

  1. debra said

    Your costume is spectacular and it is wonderful to see the vitality of the procession in your photos.

  2. ironwing said

    The photos were a joint effort – my husband took pictures. I chose and cropped them (sometimes heavily) to get the best details. Neither of us has much experience with crowd and/or night photography, and we were trying out some unfamiliar features on the camera, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
    That’s my “Madrone Dress” – the sleeves are a black/tan print of mountain lion faces.

  3. debra said

    Ah. Well, the photos work well. The spots on the big cat are very effective.

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