199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die

Following the release of Loren Rhoads new book, 199 Cemeteries to see before you Die.

Almost Heaven

Lucy Coleman Talbot interviews director Carol Salter about her new film. A beautifully crafted exploration of life death and love, described as a “vibrant, human story” by The Hollywood Reporter, it follows 17 year old Ying Ling, who is training to become a mortician in one of China’s largest funeral homes.

Tubercular Venus: When the Beauty Standard was Dying

If society’s beauty standard dictates a ‘proper’ woman should have pale skin and wear a crinoline that makes it near impossible for her walk through a doorway, chances are, that is a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home. So what does it say about a culture when the height of beauty is to be slowly dying of a horrific illness?

Bluebeard & the Final Girl: Feminist Retellings of Perrault’s Classic

Sonya Vatomsky is here to examine the myth of Bluebeard, Perrault’s text as a canonical work, is in dire need of retelling. Culturally, Bluebeard has found itself linked more to temptation/knowledge narratives like the Garden of Eden and Pandora’s Box than to narratives of heroic escape from monstrous kings and ogres. This in itself isContinue reading “Bluebeard & the Final Girl: Feminist Retellings of Perrault’s Classic”

Best of 2016

The subject of women and death continued to make frequent headlines this year, as well as issues concerning gender, identity and death, reproductive rights and an examination of our complex and ever-changing relationship to our own mortality. Here’s a recap of what 2016 had to offer from our co-founder Sarah Chavez.

Rizpah, Guardian of the Dead

Host and creator of Kaddish the Podcast, Ariana Katz tells us the story of Rizpah. Appearing in 2 Samuel, first as a sexual commodity and later, as a fierce advocate for the dignity of her sons. Rizpah is the foremother of shmirah, the Jewish custom of guarding the dead between time of death and time ofContinue reading “Rizpah, Guardian of the Dead”

A Celebration of Death

Festival of Ian Smith, 28th October – 23rd December, 2017 at Edinburgh’s Summerhall is set to be an eclectic mix of art, music, performance and installation – all investigating, challenging, confronting or celebrating death. The festival explores why we often find it difficult to talk about death in our society, and how art and artistsContinue reading “A Celebration of Death”

Strengthen Your Sense of Smell While Contemplating Your Doom

We live in a culture that rejects scent the same way that it denies the reality of death. Nuri McBride is here to explain that perfume is olfactive art, like visual arts and music it has the power to move, soothe and inspire people. Nuri is creator of ‘Scent the Scene’ an exercise in perfumery, meditationContinue reading “Strengthen Your Sense of Smell While Contemplating Your Doom”

Little Miss Funeral

Lauren LeRoy is a funeral director from New York State. Entering mortuary school at nineteen, she had no idea what she was in for. Lauren reflects on her experiences in a male dominated industry and on why her job is so important. This beautiful dedication to her Grandfather’s memory takes us back to a snowyContinue reading “Little Miss Funeral”

A Better Understanding of Death

Last Thursday Death & the Maiden’s Lucy Talbot attended the Good Funeral Awards, as we had been nominated for the “Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death” award 2016. Here Sarah and Lucy (the Maidens) reflect on the values at the core of their mission and introduce to you the other nominees in theContinue reading “A Better Understanding of Death”

Talk is cheap. Burials are not: Why only telling people what you want for your funeral is not enough

Amber Carvaly is back on Death & the Maiden today to discuss a subject very close to her heart. As one half of Undertaking LA, Amber encourages anybody and everybody to talk about death, dying and their wishes for the end of life. Although this is important (and she makes clear it absolutely is) AmberContinue reading “Talk is cheap. Burials are not: Why only telling people what you want for your funeral is not enough”

Of Divine Beauty & Hidden Grief

Nicholas Johnson is the artist behind Divine Excess, an online shop that sells bespoke pieces inspired by Mexican folk art and iconography. Here we find out more about the influences that inspire these intricate creations. From the saintly to the cult of Santa Muerte, Nick also shares some examples of his work whereby femininity isContinue reading “Of Divine Beauty & Hidden Grief”

The Deathtivals

For Erica Buist, The Deathtivals Project didn’t come directly out of grief. It came out of her reaction to it. From snooping in a dead man’s fridge to computer investigations, Erica found herself on a journey of extreme anxiety and agoraphobia following the loss of someone it seemed she wasn’t entitled to grieve. This projectContinue reading “The Deathtivals”

The Little Book of Burial

Krista Amira Calvo takes us on a journey across the globe with The Little Book of Burial. A playful hands on experience that sheds light on different cultures and their burial practices. Exploring the evolution of burial and some rituals that are no longer practiced but still very iconic and recognisable to us. This delightful pop-up book captures the innocence and joy of childhood whilst educating and opening up discussions about death.

Rachel The Film

Karen Anstee is weeks away from the filming of Rachel. A short film about the complex relationships between love, death, family and religion. As writer and director, Karen shares insight into what inspired the project as well as some of the beautiful locations the production team will be shooting at. Ultimately, Rachel is an exploration of theContinue reading “Rachel The Film”

Modern Mourning

Laurel Witting creates bespoke pieces of jewelry that pay homage to mourning practices of the past. Each piece unique, she finds influence & sometimes materials in the forgotten corners & dusty boxes of yesterday. Handcrafting modern mourning jewelry using traditional beading patterns to both reflect Victorian design & commemorate the dead. Laurel hopes that her mourningContinue reading “Modern Mourning”

Keening & the Death Wail

S Elizabeth interviews musician Gemma Fleet of The Wharves on her project “Lost Voices” which explores vocal improvisation in folk culture. Volume 1. “Keening and the Death Wail” has roots in Fleet’s own childhood. She believes she encountered an Irish traveler funeral; an “unhindered display of grief” wherein the woman in mourning was not being hushed,Continue reading “Keening & the Death Wail”

Death & Video Game Development

As a video game developer, Gabby DaRienzo has always been interested in how death is represented & dealt with in games. The interactivity of video games makes them the perfect medium to explore topics like death, giving players the opportunity to participate in and explore mortality, loss, and grief directly. In this post Gabby sharesContinue reading “Death & Video Game Development”

The Female in Mourning Jewels

Hayden Peters, founder and creative director of Art of Mourning gives us an illustrated tour of female mourning jewellery. Exploring the mourning industry of the 16th-19th centuries we learn about different trends in design and how this reflects cultural attitudes and social norms of the time. From memento mori to locks of hair and cutting diamondsContinue reading “The Female in Mourning Jewels”

On The Street With Saint Death In Tepito, Mexico

Dr Andrew Chesnut is author of the only book on Saint Death in both Mexico & the US. Here he shares the experience of attending The Santa Muerte rosary service held in Tepito, Mexico City’s most notorious barrio. This is the signature public ritual of the burgeoning cult of the skeleton saint. Accompanied by talentedContinue reading “On The Street With Saint Death In Tepito, Mexico”

Rest In Pieces

To celebrate the paperback release of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses, author Bess Lovejoy is giving away a signed copy of her book. Rest in Pieces catalogs stories from the age of antiquity to today, tracing the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death and connecting the lives of the famous deceasedContinue reading “Rest In Pieces”

Drawn at the Tower

When the wonderful people at Art Macabre invited Death & the Maiden’s own Lucy Talbot to experience the first Drawn at the Tower, a series of events at the Tower of London after dark, how could she say no? Particularly when it would be the She Wolf of France walking into the beautiful low litContinue reading “Drawn at the Tower”

“I think I’d like to change into a sunflower most of all”

Death & the Maiden’s co-founder Lucy Talbot sees Harold & Maude as the ultimate death positive film. Originally released in 1971, the film was a box office flop. Only in the 1980s did it begin to profit and build a cult following. The lessons that Countess Mathilda Chardin has for young Harold Chasen will change hisContinue reading ““I think I’d like to change into a sunflower most of all””

Death and the Birth of Feminism 

Whether you believe the Fox sisters possessed supernatural powers or were masters of deception, one thing is for sure. What began as a rapping on the wall quickly became fame & fortune. Spiritualism was at its height & provided a platform for women to speak out. Death & the Maiden’s Sarah Chavez explains that women becameContinue reading “Death and the Birth of Feminism “

Widows and Virgins: The Curse of Being a Single Woman

Contrary to many death rituals I’ve read about previously, the widow bore the burden of “exaggerated observance of mourning customs” not out of respect for her deceased husband, but so that she did not become “infected” by the dead and his ghost, for it was the widow who was “especially liable to death infections.” One of these mourning customs,Continue reading “Widows and Virgins: The Curse of Being a Single Woman”

Life Of Pie

The colors are a deep burnt umber and it becomes increasingly brown as it spreads from the center to the tawny crispy crust that holds it all together. And when I close my eyes, I can hear my mom, beaming aloud about how proud she is that she made it, telling me the story aboutContinue reading “Life Of Pie”

Dead Good Gifts 2015

It’s the eve of December and the countdown is officially on. It’s time to start thinking about Christmas gifts to avoid the last minute dash we all know and loath. If you want to shop independent then you need to start getting those orders in. Here at Death & the Maiden we have decided to helpContinue reading “Dead Good Gifts 2015”

Is Taxidermy a “Girl Thing”?

I get called a lot of things by taxidermy enthusiasts, animal-rights activists, and the media. I’m apparently an instructor, an expert, a hipster, an animal hater, a sicko, a stuffer…but one of the most puzzling things I have been called recently is a “woman taxidermist” and I get asked the same question time and timeContinue reading “Is Taxidermy a “Girl Thing”?”

Katabira no Tsuji – The Crossroad of Corpses

When the Empress died at the age of 64—still beautiful—her last will and testament was opened, and shocked the entire royal family. Instead of a state funeral and proper internment, the Empress requested that her body be garbed in the simplest cloth, then flung onto the streets. When people saw her delicate flesh rot away,Continue reading “Katabira no Tsuji – The Crossroad of Corpses”

Midwives, Layers-Out, and Lady Pole

Patricia Lundy explores the relationship between women and death by reflecting on two books. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, Caitlin Doughty’s memoir on her experience (past and current) in the death industry and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, with specific focus on Lady Pole. In this post Patricia entertains theContinue reading “Midwives, Layers-Out, and Lady Pole”

Proboscis Tongues and Demonic Queefing

In examining the reasons why pregnant women and young infants have traditionally been seen as particularly vulnerable to demonic influences, it may be necessary to look at popular views concerning soul belief and young infants.  In many cases, very young children are seen as occupying a liminal status  between the world of the living andContinue reading “Proboscis Tongues and Demonic Queefing”

Transformative Powers through Making

How exactly did Yuli Somme go from making colourful hand-made felt tea cosies, felted seamless jackets and hats, and the occasional wall hanging to soft coffins? In this beautiful account of how creative direction can change rather unexpectedly we learn that the physical act of creation can release emotion, that from sorrow something truly life affirming canContinue reading “Transformative Powers through Making”

Tears Become Ideas

In some places, the ability to sing or recite ritual laments became part of a feminine portfolio of skills, along with cooking, spinning, mending and cleaning. Here, author Sarah Murray shares an adaptation from her wonderful book Making an Exit: From the Magnificent to the Macabre, How We Dignify the Dead to give us insightContinue reading “Tears Become Ideas”

Sewing Shrouds: 19th-century Burial Clothing

Chris Woodyard has always been interested in what the well-dressed corpse is wearing: a netted beadwork shroud, as worn by an Egyptian mummy; the beautiful brocades found in the royal tombs at Las Huelgas; a plain wool shroud tied at the head and foot, as modeled by John Donne in his funerary monument; or the frilled-frontContinue reading “Sewing Shrouds: 19th-century Burial Clothing”

The Rebozo: Fashion, Feminism and Death

Death & the Maiden’s own Sarah Chavez presents the rebozo. For centuries, broken-hearted mothers have wrapped their lifeless infants in them for burial and covered their faces with it to signify mourning. The use of the rebozo as a shroud was once so common in Mexico, many artisans created them solely for this purpose, whereas today,Continue reading “The Rebozo: Fashion, Feminism and Death”