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Equinox Vigil ushers a secular, creative space to mourn for recently dead

Union Cemetery, Saturday, was alit with lanterns and music as visitors mourned the loss of loved ones during the fourth annual Equinox Vigil.

The vigil, held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., commemorated the deceased—particularly Michael Greene and Richard Mcdowell, founding members of One Yellow Rabbit theatre-company—with an inclusive, non-religious ceremony intended to pay respect to the dead and “reflect the natural cycle of life and death itself,” according to founder Sharon Stevens in a press release.

Without being tied down with ritual or tradition, visitors were given an inventive and creative space that featured an intersection of music, art, and dance—most notably with dancer and choreographer Krysten Blair’s two-part piece, Rico.Blair, dedicated to Greene and Mcdowell.

Jenna Swift, a volunteer of the event as well as a former participant of the vigil two years ago with her installation Everything that Dies Turns to Paper, said the event “invites and validates so many different peoples’ traditions and personal approaches to grief and loss.”

The event is especially pertinent to the non-religious as it offers a space for them to grieve without the need of a particular faith.
“This is my own experience, but a number of people probably find that the notion of prayer comes with a certain amount of baggage,” Swift said. “What is approved by a script lacks meaning for those who have inherited it.

“[The vigil] is an incredible invitation [for those people] to write their own script.

“I know how meaningful this is for my family,” she said. “It’s become kind of a pole—a mile marker that we wait for its approach every year.

“I can’t recommend it enough for everyone to experience this kind of magic.”

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