Every year, the Spirit Groups (the Fire, Stilt, and Aerial groups and the Community group of Ambassadors, Ushers, and Attendants who escort the Urn) have a theme that ties together all of their various projects. In past years, that theme has included a color and a concept. Lots of other folks have picked up on the color and incorporated it into their costumes, and we’ve been getting questions about this year’s theme. So now seems like a good time to answer them!
First, no color theme this year. So go with whatever colors move you! Now, on to the theme, which is really a deep pool of questions that all of our Spirit Groups are grappling with:
Our focus for the Spirit Groups is on UnMournable Bodies. This year we honor the lives of the many forgotten and often vilified souls we lose each year. Who mourns the imprisoned, addicts, suicides, illegal immigrants, homeless, refugees, mentally ill, destitute, enemies of the state, civilian casualties of war? Who mourns those whom our culture turns away from? Who chooses whom we turn away from, and what happens when we turn to look at them, to remember and to mourn them, instead? What does it look like when we mourn them in the Finale Ceremony alongside the rest of our beloved dead?
These are big, culture-wide questions, but whose family doesn’t hold some of these unmournable members? How do we mourn those whose lives made them difficult to grieve simply? Difficult, even, to love? How do we mourn our dead who are painful to remember? Are we condoning their behavior by honoring these people? Or are we honoring the humanness of them, something that transcends circumstance? And what is the consequence of mourning them–or of choosing not to?
UnMournable Bodies offers us an opportunity to remember and honor the people that the larger society deems unworthy of an outpouring of grief–whether because they are actively vilified or because they are simply forgotten. It opens questions that don’t have easy answers. And for our Spirit Groups, these questions have already inspired fruitful conversations and insights.
You are welcome to join the Spirit Groups in considering these questions as you prepare for the Procession. And you are welcome not to. It’s entirely up to you!
You may find your own questions, or even answers, inspired by this theme. And if you choose to grapple with these questions, please feel free to share!