While every Carnival season is a full-contact sport, we’ll be nursing the wounds from this last go-round for a long time. My sympathies go out to the families and friends of Geraldine Carmouche and Joseph Sampson, who were both killed by floats on the parade routes this year. No doubt there will be a lot of soul-searching and deep diving into the mechanics of Mardi Gras, and how we can keep this annual party machine from crushing anyone in the future—while still hopefully preserving its inherently anarchist spirit.
One thing I’m always grateful for is how abruptly Carnival ends every year, giving us all a chance to turn a proverbial corner. A lot of this is based in religious tradition. And despite what you might think—publisher and editor of this commie rag that I am—I’m a huge fan of these kinds of traditions. I know for me, when my family gets together for Passover or something like that, it’s not so much about the literal text, but the celebration of each other and a chance to talk about what’s going on now, with a handful of riveting, ancient stories and fables to organize the discussion around. As I write this on Ash Wednesday, I’m sure there are a lot of people out there getting crosses rubbed into their forehead who maybe aren’t practicing or diligent Christians necessarily, but still appreciate that symbolic assist in saying goodbye to the excesses of the weeks before—as well as promising to do a little self-improvement in the days ahead.
One reason we feature a horoscope column (and a recently-added tarot section) in this publication is that whether or not you buy into the story of how the planets were arranged when you were born, or how a deck of cards portends your fate—if it helps to have that celestial tapestry (with all of its creatures, characters, and symbols) motivate and inspire you towards loftier goals, what does it matter how real or true any of it is?
Of course, we get into dangerous territory when some of us insist that these stories are fact, that they are not a collective storytelling around a millenia-old campfire, but a list of rules set out long ago, whose absolute power cannot be interpreted, challenged, updated, or ignored. But that is a discussion for another time.
For now, I hope that however you interpret the Great Beyond, you get to celebrate a spring season which always brings with it themes of rebirth and bloom. My church during this time will be my garden, which always teaches me so much about that which is above and below us. Happy digging. —Dan Fox