I'm gonna tell you what the dead like. They like a solid spiritual intro; a clearing out with sage, a little blessing over their living honorees. A little initial reverence is good; some silent introspection brought on by the horn of a conch shell, but any natural sound will do. They like a well-build and thoughtful altar. It doesn't have to be big though you know some of the dead abuelitas don't mind a little braggin rights over size, but it does need to have stuff they liked in the living world. Remember what they liked! And bring that. Bring good photos of them, when they were young and stunning. Or maybe when they were older and they looked stately and respected. They like food. Put their favorite food on the altar and don't skimp. Fresh fruit, soft sugar bread. Who doesn't like that? The dead like a good, loud parade with walking musicians and they like pretty girls in the parade and handsome boys. They really want earth-connected native customs represented because these customs are so old they remember when death was actually the start of life. The dead know that now. They want hats and flowers and masks and face painting. They want color! Maybe a little bit of booze. They want the line between reverence and a great time blurred. They want a spectacular party. When the dancing begins at their party, they want percussion, lots of it. And be bad-ass, don't come with one drum and one lame beat. Nearly bring the dead's heartbeat back; make the living remember they have one. And the dead like energetic dancing. Dance so deep within yourself that you almost really know what the dead want. Big, sharp, powerful movements where your four-foot feather headdress whips around furiously because of your razor-sharp head turns. Give 'em deep knee bends that spring back up and hard palm slaps on the earth. Did you feel it? The dead want you to feel it. Feel the charge of spirit that streams through both worlds, and live a good life goddamn it. They really want you to live.
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