Tucson All Souls Procession 2010

November 8, 2010

More photos from last night’s procession can be seen on the Flickr group for this event:


This year I had neuropathy to deal with as well as the usual asthma, so I decided to carry a walking stick.  I strung my iron bells on a staff made from an agave stalk, and decorated it with devil’s claw pods and my copper cat and jaguar masks from the 2008 and 2009 processions.  It made a great clanging, tinkling sound, and was fun and energizing to carry, despite its considerable weight.  My costume was all white, which would be boring in daylight but is very effective after dark, under intermittent streetlights.  I wore my Snowball the Shelter Ghost embroidered cat mask, hemp hiking dress, a Mexican rebozo, and my bell belt (not visible in this year’s photo).

This year’s crowd was huge, especially the spectators (the local newspaper predicted 20,000 people), but the procession had fewer and less elaborate carettas than in years past.  There were several spectacular costumes, but more people with minimal or no special attire, and fewer drummers and musicians than in recent years.  Still, it was lively and had all the usual excitement, especially with the dance through the underpass.  After having been to five of these things, I have the following observations and suggestions to people who want to go:

1.  This event is what YOU make it.  Your energy and spirit – and your costume, music, dance, props, and whatever else you wish to offer – all help create the magic and meaning.  Focus.  Participate fully.  Your contribution matters.  YOU matter.  (I’m talking about the procession itself here, not the finale.  The final performance/street party is a completely different kind of event.)

2.  It needn’t cost anything, and you don’t need any special abilities.  Smile.  Dance.  Burn incense but leave your cigarettes at home.  Play a rattle or ring a bell.  Inspiration for costumes and art is all around you in the desert.  Paint your face.  Put seedpods in your hair.  Make a mask out of paper, fabric, recycled materials, or a fallen palm frond.  Carry a precious photo or memento, or a candle, or a string of lights.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, glitzy, or “professional”.  If it is from your hands and heart, it will have power.

3.  Don’t worry about the spectators.  There are thousands of them lining the procession route.  Their faces are bored, vacant, sullen, or even angry.  Scarcely one in a hundred holds a smile, an expression of wonder, or tears of sorrow – even among the children, or among those who are in costume themselves.  Never mind.  You are not walking for THEM.  You are walking for those who accompany you, moving all around you in a chaotic river of footsteps.  Most of all, you are walking for those who have gone before, unseen but remembered and loved, who ride the evening air and come very close to us all on this night of nights.

Bell Staff

My Costume: All Souls Procession 2010


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