Traditionally Descansos are crosses placed along roadsides to honour those who died tragically in accidents.
On her website “While Waiting for Godot” Heather Blakey writes about making descansos to honour our ancestors. She refers to the sense of grief and loss that would have been felt by convicts sent to Australia in the first days of white settlement. https://whilewaitingforgodot.net/2018/11/05/make-descansos-to-honour-ancestors/
While I don’t have convict ancestors some of my ancestors did come here under very difficult circumstances that made returning to the old country most unlikely. I have read a letter written by my great, great grandmother where she talks of how her family had lived in a particular English near London for “time out of mind”. To leave this village and make the long sea voyage to Australia with her young children must have been very traumatic. I made a digital image as a descansos to honour the deep sense of dislocation and loss they must have felt.
I feel deeply traumatic experiences that affected our more recent ancestors are passed down to us through matrilinear DNA. In this way they exert a subtle, subconscious influence on the way we think and live out our lives. Until these ‘stains’ (for want of a better word) are acknowledged and bought into the light of consciousness to be healed they will continue to affect us. There is a part of me that feels deeply disconnected from any kind of ancestral home – that part of me is always restless and always moving on in search of some mythical place that will give me a lasting sense of security. In making the descanos I seek to heal that ancient inherited pain and to release it so that I might finally feel ‘at home’ within myself.
The artist Alexandra Khan creates small paintings that work as descansos that honour the passing of old dreams. She writes “Descansos are small memorials to past unfulfilled dreams and at the same time demonstrations of love for our suffering and our pain. It is time to put these restless spirits in the earth and bury them finally. It is salutary and quite right to work intensively with his grief for a while, but there is the moment you have to sew up the wound and let it go in peace, so that it can heal.” https://www.alexandrakhan.com/content/descansos-i?language=en
Over the past few years I have had to face the reality that certain dreams I cherished for a very long time are not likely to be fulfilled. I made this descansos as a way of mourning their passing.
Of course working with the idea of descansos did bring to the surface my own deep grief over the traumatic deaths of people I have loved deeply. The descansos below was made in their honour.
All this working through my grief – both personal and ancestral, really stirred up a lot of feelings. Today (or tomorrow depending on where on the globe you live) there is a lunar eclipse. Astrologers regard lunar eclipses as times when you can clearly see emotional issues that are causing disharmony. Old emotional baggage is revealed in ways that can either cause us to react or lead us to work on healing and releasing these karmic binds.
The current eclipse the Moon is aligned with Pluto. This really emphasizes the idea that deeply buried emotional pain and trauma is being illuminated. With the intention of releasing and healing these buried hurts I created a small crystal grid – the bones symbolize the ancestors and departed loved ones – the lobster claw symbolizes transformation and the discarding of the carapace of old ideas and emotions that are now limiting and constricting my way forward.