Lolita Perdurabo


Death Festival Celebration

Me on my local graveyard lighting a candle. 1996

I Celebrated Halloween visiting my home in Krakow. I always miss the atmosphere of the graveyard lighten up with hundreds of little lamps, smell of burning wax filling the air, owl hoot from top of the trees and ‘stiff honey’ sweets sold in front of cemetery gates together with grave lights, candles and flowers. Halloween is not very popular in Poland and main focus is on All Hallows and All Souls day both are very morbid and sad days and festive attitude is not welcome, at least by older generation. Pumpkin lanterns on my balcony were always a reason for gossip between neighbours. On the other hand, because of it there is no tacky Halloween merchandising flooding shop windows like here in Britain. Celebrating Halloween always had a flavour of heresy and secrecy when I was living in Poland. Since I moved to Britain I found it best to travel to remote places for Halloween rather than stay in the city. Fancy Dress parties get on my nerves, although occasionally it can be fun, I don’t like the commercialisation of the festival.

'Stiff Honey" or 'Turkish Honey', Traditional in Krakow

I always wanted to introduce Anton to my own way of celebrating Death Festival. I say my own because to me it was always very joyful celebration. I didn’t have to visit graves of my family for prayers because none of my family was buried in my city. We would walk around cemetery putting candles on empty, abandoned graves instead. This is an old tradition -making sure that all ancestors were remembered. I would stuff my pockets with sweets and munch on them walking between graves, spotting the most interesting lights, listening to cracking and breaking glass (it would explode from heat in a cold weather). The graveyards are open all night even on Halloween itself because some people want to prepare the graves early on. I would often stroll there around midnight. I would also visit on the following day and evening.

 

We arrived to Krakow on Halloween itself and in the evening we went to see the graveyard. There was quite  a lot of lights on the graves already.

Graveyard, Salwator, Halloween 2011

 

Lola & Anton on the graveyard, Halloween 2011

 

Cross on the main path, Halloween 2011

The next evening we visited the cemetery again. There were many people walking on the paths between graves and cemetery glowed with lights. The difference is especially visible between the two photos of the cross situated on the main path. Above is the one from Halloween night and below All Hallows night. It was an amazing walk. Owl hoot carried from the nearby alley and evening was nice and worm. I’m glad we could be there. We visited few graves special for my Mum and Granny who joined us for this evening.

Cross on All Hallows nightgraveyard on Salwator, All Hallows night 2011

Graveyard on All hallows night, 2011

It was great to visit this special place on such a special time. The Salwator graveyard definitely counts as one of my places of magickal significance. I was visiting it on almost a weekly basis throughout my childhood and adolescence as the gates are usually opened. There is no other time when it looks so beautiful, with golden leaves on a trees and paths and their scent filling the air. I felt strongly that I want to take some of this with me home so we can incorporate it into our magick. Photos and films is one way of doing it but I wanted something more useful and tangible like the lights. I visited the Rakowice cemetery in Krakow on All Souls day. It’s a big cemetery and very different to my little local one. I like it for different reasons. There is quite a few tombs in there and some nice statues. I remember being there once in the summer with couple of friends and a stranger we met. We left a party in the student halls because it was boring and went for the stroll. We met a guy with a bottle of wine who was looking for a party and we suggested he joins us. He did and together we climbed over the fence to this cemetery. We found a tomb you could walk into and spent night drinking in there. It was great.

Angel, Rakowice cemetery, 2011

Decorated statue, Rakowice, 2011

Mourning Figure, Rakowice, 2011

 

Familly Tomb, Rakowice, 2011

This tomb has an amazing emblem- crowned snake holding a rose in its mouth.

tomb emblem, Rakowice cemetery

As I was strolling along the cemetery with my family I was noticing the bins filled up with lamps that burned out the night before. There was so many of them and no recycling facilities supplied. I decided to collect the nices ones and soon my backpack was full of them. It was amusing collecting them from bins. I don’t think anybody even noticed me doing it because everybody was so busy visiting graves, they paid no attention.¬† Only very occasionally someone gave me a strange look but this might have been more to do with how I dress (very colourful as for the mourning of the dead, inappropriate! ).

Me carrying my bag full of lights, Rakowice, 2011

I took them home with me and fill them up with tea light to see how they look at night. Here is my collection:

grave lamps and pumpkin lanterns

 

After coming back to the U.K. we decided to use the lights in our Black/Death Doll rituals. It really empowered the magick to have them there. Not only they bring an important, personal element to the setting but also they just look amazing in this different setting. The lamps below are not the one I collected from cemetery. We bought them from the stalls in front of Salwator graveyard (my local one). We decided to choose red lamps with heart and cross symbols because of their associations with Baron Samedi and Maman Brigitte.

Death Altar with black dools, rodent skull and grave lamps. November 2011

 



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