The Human Flower Project, a collaborative, international photo album and discussion of how people live through flowers, wrote yesterday about the Bolivian Fiesta de las Natitas, or, Day of the Skulls.
It’s a modern ceremony with ancient roots. Think Mexico’s Day of the Dead, but more, um, earthy. I found this just fascinating:
According to anthropologist Milton Eyzaguirre, the indigenous people of Bolivia’s Andes Mountains believe each person has seven souls, ‘and one of them stays with the skull.’ This particular soul can visit us in dreams and provide protection in waking life. On November 8th, the skulls are taken from home altars to a special mass for blessing…and are capped with crowns of fresh hydrangeas and roses, a spring rite long practiced in privacy and, more recently, a public observance of heritage and faith.
Though the Natitas (skulls) custom has been folded into Bolivia’s current day Catholicism, it possesses all the attributes of an older, more magical religion, one in which the dead and living maintain contact and ritual propriety reaps rewards of prosperity and health. In newer religions, the problem of fate is left up to a god, and typically flowers serve only decorative purposes. But there is an old and reasonable human inclination not to take chances; these more interventionist faiths use flowers to turn the wheel of fate favorably.