Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras Greetings

Today is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, so large numbers of people in Europe, South America, and select parts of the U.S. will be experiencing the culmination of a short but intense season of masked balls, parades, parties, and other carnivalesque activities before they commit themselves to a period of fasting or giving up various personal indulgences for Lent. Some American communities, clubs, and other organizations try to imitate Carnival with Mardi Gras celebrations and such, but because most of us don’t follow that with a period of self-imposed deprivation, it’s not as energizing an experience as it is for people in countries where they take it seriously. For example, for the sake of convenience, various local organizations will have Mardi Gras celebrations on the weekend after Fat Tuesday—obviously, they’re not in sync with the psychic energy wave, which is all about the highs and the lows. Feasting followed by fasting, followed by an eventual return to normal, adds dimension to life. (Here in Michigan, Fat Tuesday is Paczki [pronounced poonchkee] Day, named after the rich donuts that are a part of the Polish heritage in certain Michigan cities; however, our grocery stores and bakeries will continue to sell paczkis for at least a week after Fat Tuesday).

Like Halloween, Mardis Gras enables people to experience “the principle of the Fantastic,” which can be a way of remaking oneself. If a person suffering from some sort of malaise gets out and takes advantage of seasonal feasts and fasts, especially the ones that allow you to dress up and frolic in fantasy costumes, it’s like hitting the “reset” button for the body-mind. After the highs and lows, the person returns to a reinvigorated homeostasis. I think this is worth experimenting with if you are trying to get out of a rut, but you don’t need to indulge in alcohol, which is dangerous to yourself and others, because you can try better, high energy outlets, such as dressing up in costume for singing, parading, dancing, and theatrics. In traditional societies, all of those high energy activities were also a way of reinvigorating the earth and putting on a performance for the gods and spirits—as I have remarked in previous commentaries on the Feng Shui of Halloween.

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