Bones, Baphomet horns and black lipstick – My very visual way to represent Death and what my little six year old neighbour called a “belated Halloween costume – I’m not scared!!”. I wasn’t trying to scare anyone, but it’s true that Halloween is supposed to be a moment when the bridges between the worlds of the Dead and the Living open for a short while. The Autumn equinox, then December, and the winter solstice: shamanistic rituals of nature that underwent a Christian transformation in some areas like Britain, but you can still deeply feel the metaphors between deities of Death or rebirth, and the cycles in Nature. (Ex: Marzanna in Poland)
As such, winter could be seen as a deadly figure blowing on trees to make leaves first glow with preternatural colours, then inexorably fall and decay until only skeletal twigs and trunks are left, barren and cold. Sometimes, later on, the snow can add its own ivory, osseous tint to complete the picture. At the same time, it’s incredibly beautiful and necessary for the advent of a new spring.
It can be hard to reconnect with nature and its cycle in very busy cities like London, but we’re lucky enough to have access to pockets of seasonal bliss like gardens, parks, forests, any standalone tree or tiny plants growing from gaps in the concrete or tar. The Barbican estate is a Brutalist heaven, the concrete magnified, revealed by the vegetation and water.
Some plants are perennial, like ivy, a metaphor for immortality and braving the goddess of Death, other revel in their coppery or golden glory, suspended between two worlds, like a leaf ready to fall, barely attached to its branch.
I used to fear all morbid images as a child, an embodiment of my fear of dying and death, to the extent that I would refuse to look at skeletons and cemeteries, as if they could vanish by not being a part of my world.
Yet, I later chose to embrace the imagery and became addicted to gothic imagination as a young adult.
It was my way of embracing my fears and acknowledge some things I couldn’t change (there is a lot to say about immortality, but today isn’t the day).
I got called a walking Memento Mori by a misogynistic guy in Paris nearly 10 years ago, and he was shocked to learn that I found my style beautiful. He thought I was just there for the provocation.
The Romans had sometimes banquets with macabre imagery to remind them they’d die, an actual Memento Mori. And indeed, they’re all dead now – but this idea survived and morphed.
As I grow older myself, I try to let go when possible of some fears and embrace my inner playfulness, maybe not intuitively, my sense of beauty and keep on liking things some would think not befitting my age or current job.
Interestingly, the antonym of Death, in the wordnet dictionary, is Birth and not Life. It also depends on whether you think of death as a process or a fixed state, as Alexis was reflecting on.
In lots of mythologies, death is a new beginning for another life cycle, or a bridge to another world, rather than a full stop. For instance, beliefs of reincarnation, or the Mayan underworld, Xibalba, are examples. If the concept of the Mayan beliefs, accepting death, living in the moment and cycles of life interest you, I can only recommend The Fountain by Darren Aronofsky and also the Book of Life by Jorge R. Gutierrez)
The cycle of nature as a metaphor for life and death only helps to some extent I feel, and living in the “moment” can help build an answer to start seeing it this way and understand we’re part of something bigger, and that the present is the only place to be. It’s been a relief for me in recent years after some crippling bouts of existential anxieties.
I love autumn and winter and spring and summer and the monsoon and the dry season and all the seasons (as not all areas of the world have the same seasons), but I think I always had more interesting things to say about the ambivalent ones, like autumn or winter, where you could feel the melancholy, but also embrace the indoors warmth, the beauty of observing first hand the cycle of rebirth.
I will not beg for summer to come, nor will I mourn the last leave to fall on the ground either.
I wish you all a great December ❤
Pictures by Alexis, (pictures of Alexis by me 😉 )
Horns by @restyle.pl from @saisaicamden
Corset by @louiseblackdesigns
Dress by @blackmilkclothing
Jacket by @killstar
Necklace from a charity shop
Leggings by @restyle.pl
Bag by @bannedalternative
Fingerless gloves bought somewhere in Barcelona
Brooch from a now permanently closed gothic shop in Grenoble .
(Most of these are actually more than a few years old or from a charity shop or second hand, and I’m wearing them in my daily life or in other photosessions 🙂 )