From Parlor Tricks to Primetime: Fame, Gender, and the History of Ghost Hunting

When you read the words ghost hunter, what kind of person springs to mind? I’ll wager many of you picture what I do: someone between the ages of 21 and 35, probably white, lit by the eerie glow of a night vision camera asking, “Did you guys hear that?”
Oh yeah, the ghost hunter is always a guy.  Sam Wall asks why?

“You must be very sensitive”

Artist Sarah Gay-O’Neill is here to explain that it’s very easy to normalize pain when people in authoritative positions, like doctors, tell you everything is fine and ‘normal’…but is it normal to feel the drag of a rusty pitchfork clawing at your insides?

This Party’s Dead

Whenever I talk about The Worst Tuesday, people recoil like I’m a coworker oversharing about a rectal exam. I get the sense I’m being violent. I watch their faces as I speak, notice them flinch and their shoulders tense, even though I only mention words like ‘bloated’ to one or two of the most genuinely curious friends. I think it’s the words ‘dead’, ‘died’, ‘body’ and ‘corpse’ that are doing it. While no one is about to say, “LANGUAGE, Erica!”, I wonder if I should soften the way I talk about it. Dull down the frankness. Or shut up about it altogether.

The Monster Inside Me

By Caroline Reilly Since I was old enough to go out on my own, my mother has been talking to me about Ted Bundy. In high school, when we had off campus privileges starting in our freshman year, she explained to my 14-year-old self about the serial killer who was good looking, and charming, andContinue reading “The Monster Inside Me”

The Gendered Garden: Sexual Transgression of Women Walking Alone in Cemeteries

Romany Reagan has been walking in Abney Park Cemetery for a total of nine years, often alone. As a walking practitioner dedicated to encouraging new perspectives within cemetery space, a recent personal revelation called for self reflection and a much wider contemplation.

Sex & Death: Santa Muerte’s Strong LGBT Following

Enduring discrimination and even persecution at times makes the fierce, female skeleton saint especially attractive to those who’ve been ostracized, taunted or even subjected to physical violence because of their alternative sexual orientation. World leading expert on Santa Muerte, Andrew Chesnut has observed this special attraction from the outset of his research eight years ago. Introducing usContinue reading “Sex & Death: Santa Muerte’s Strong LGBT Following”

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.

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”

Death & the Maidens: Why Women Are Working With Death

Death & the Maiden’s co-founder, Sarah Chavez, delves into the reasons underlying the current interest many women seem to have with death, and the rise of the Death Positive movement. Exploring a question persistently asked and rooted at the very core of Death & the Maiden: Why are so many women currently interested in death andContinue reading “Death & the Maidens: Why Women Are Working With Death”

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”

The Crime Museum Uncovered

Yesterday, after six months this long awaited exhibition at the Museum of London came to an end. With plans for New Scotland Yard to close the future of the Metropolitan Police’s infamously known “Black Museum” is uncertain. This carefully curated exhibition allowed the public to experience a selection of the items found inside. Many stillContinue reading “The Crime Museum Uncovered”

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Death & the Maiden’s own Sarah Chavez (Troop) shares the horrifying story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911. An entire nation grieved over the 148 deaths that occurred that day, so easily preventable. Their collective outrage changed U.S. labor laws and led to the adoption of fireContinue reading “The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire”

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”

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 “

Doulas: Doing Death Differently

We are doulas of death. A birth doula provides support and guidance to the birthday mother and the brand new life. End of life doulas have forged an innovative approach to the care of the dying by putting emphasis on the importance of relationship and accompaniment. What we do is support. Practical and emotional supportContinue reading “Doulas: Doing Death Differently”

The Winter of Our Lives

Death & the Maidens’ own Lucy Talbot talks with Dr Monica Williams-Murphy about her role as Emergency Medicine Physician, the experiences that led her to write the wonderful It’s OK to Die and travel across America educating and advocating for a better approach to death and dying. Explaining why we all need to prepare for theContinue reading “The Winter of Our Lives”

Death, Sex, Religion and the Erotic Women

Dr Christina Welch explains that Europe has had a long history with Sex and Death, one intimately tied to religion. This post explores a genre of art produced during this time period that melds these themes. It examines ‘Death and the Maiden’ artworks by Germanic proto-and early-Reformist artists who highlighted the folly, futility and transience of earthly vanities, through the use of erotic death imagery that juxtaposed an eroticized woman, who stood as a symbol of life and fecundity, with a male/masculine representation of death.

Women in the Mourning

Author of The Undertaker’s Daughter, Kate Mayfield is here to take us back in time. A time when women were not public figures in the funeral industry but played important roles ‘behind the scenes’ at her father’s funeral home, Kate’s childhood home.