The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the "Lady of the Dead", corresponding to the modern Catrina.
So, just when we think the meaning of Halloween means trick or treating, dressing up in kinky costumes (the part I like) or other superficial activity, when we step back and understand that it is really a day of remembrance of our loved ones who are no longer on earth with us.
Many of you that know me personally know that I study ancient goddess culture and rituals. I collect Goddess figurines and wear them as jewelry from a few famous jewelers, of which Robert Lee Morris is one. His figurine in silver, is more of the Venus figure, and is very voluptuous, a symbol of fertility. He has a cool studio in SOHO, New York City, and has spent his fair share of time in New Mexico. It is interesting to note that most goddess rituals refer to woman as a figure of strength and fertility. I found it interesting that goddesses are also known by the "Lady of the Dead", as in the Aztec society, as cited above. I also own a pendant from a jeweler by the name of Nomi, in Santa Fe, who designs goddess figurines in silver, "Bird-headed snake goddess". I bought my first goddess figurine from Nomi about 15 years ago, long before I became the popular internet persona I enjoy today.
The bird-headed snake goddess has been found in many ancient archaeological digs, as well as prehistoric rock art. There are a lot of common themes among goddesses amongst many cultures, as well as "origin stories".
Egypt, 4000 BC
This statue is from Egypt, 4000 BC, but the imagery is far older and the motifs were common throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. Snake Goddesses represent rebirth and renewal; as the snake sheds it skin, so the soul is reborn. Snakes are dualistic; they can be maternal in their protection of crops from vermin, but also threatening and dangerous.
They also represent sexuality, as seen in the curving, fluid nature of Her spine. Her bird head represents Her connection to heaven; this Goddess is both the Earth Mother, and the Queen of the Skies. Her snake body is of the maternal earth, and her bird head is wisdom and the sky.
She raises her arms upwards in an act of worship, reminding us that Goddess and worshipper, human and divine, are one.
You may wonder why I am so intrigued by goddess culture. It is an ancient practice amongst many societies of people, but over time, and with the influence of modern religion, the focus of worship has been on a paternalistic, masculine figure. I think modern religion has lost sight of how valuable and precious women are to the world. Women are the beings that give birth. Even if they do not have children, they can exploit their warrior strengths, or engage in other care-giving roles to their respective communities. It is truly in women's nature to give birth, whether literally or figuratively. People ask me if I have any children, and I reply, gleefully, "No! All men are my children". And, I know this to be true, as my passion in life not as the "Goddess of Fetish", but as Amber DeLuca, to take care of many men that cross my path in life. It is my mission--often times to a fault. I would not have it any other way.
When I wear my bird-headed snake goddess pendant, people ask me if it is a bodybuilding figure. It does look like a front double bicep pose. When I explain it is an ancient goddess, they are intrigued. I am not heavy into "ink" or tattoos, as I believe that pure, plain unmarked skin is the ultimate hallmark of beauty, but I did get the bird-headed snake goddess on the back of my neck, a very discreet place unless I have my hair up, about three years ago. I had the artist make her resemble more of my body type, and that is with broad shoulders, abs, full sweeping legs, and much bigger breasts that sit higher on the chest. I got the tattoo for two reasons. At that time in my life, I was at a crossroads. I still strongly identified with my fierce independence and taking care of all men as the "Goddess of Fetish". But also, I felt that I would explore my ability to actually give birth to a child. As things worked out in life, I found that I was more deeply committed to being a wild tigress, a wild woman, and I realized a child would more than likely burden my ability to be wild, and stay true to my nature. The tattoo is symbolic to me because it has a dual significance--just as the goddess figures of many ancient societies.
Here is a poem a lovely fan sent to me this evening, which inspired me to post in my blog. I have been wanting to write for you for a very long time, but I get so immersed in my training and productions that I cheat myself out of the pleasure of writing, and letting you get a glimpse into my private world and what motivates me.
Amazed by the strength of you
So charmed by all you say and do
On Halloween Day, the celebration of fright
You lifted me up to your delight
I was put under a spell, my feet not touching the floor
You squeezed me tight against your core
This night full of black bats and a distant owl
Oh Amber, you did make me howl
A time of costume parties and candy pleasures
Your friendship and bear hugs, I do strongly treasure