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Image by Julia Kadel

Follow me on a Curious Journey...

Can entering the sacred space of death resurrect a buried rite to life?


Come with me on a curious journey into Graveyard Ground: Florence, Italy's Cimitero della Porte Sante, as I traverse the Realm of the Dead and re-verse the Realm of the Living, crossing boundaries and exhuming lies, to reveal buried secrets hidden in Plain Site....

A trail of breadcrumbs before we begin...

In Florence, Italy, situated on a hilltop above the famed Piazzale Michelangelo resides one of the many revered artifacts of human construction: the catholic institution’s Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte. Surrounding and underpinning this Abbey is its cemetery, Cimitero della Porte Sante: an unavoidable inclusion by the church fathers of the sacred sovereignty of Mother Nature.


Within the cemetery, we are confronted with undeniable evidence of one of the most natural rites of passage and sacred thresholds of all: the phenomenon of death. Inherent within this space is the implicit realisation of something truly beyond human construction: an autonomous force larger than the human that acts upon the human with inviolable sacred sovereignty. Yet this natural force is also the ultimate social phenomenon: encompassing burial rituals and practices of varying cultural significance, while unitarily equalising all humans regardless of social status, levelling all false privilege artificially bestowed within life, and returning all humans alike to the womb/tomb of Mother, an inescapable succumbing to the preeminent forces of Nature.


At the Cimitero della Porte Sante, we find a culturally pervasive example of contested space: the colonization by patriarchal religion of Mother Nature’s primordial womb/tomb cycle of life, and this juxtaposition creates a series of questions, along with the possibility of traversing and reversing various perspectives. Is the church really “alive” and the cemetery actually “dead”? Could the cemetery reveal Life and the church dispense death? Do man-made attempts to construct sacredness entomb natural sacrality? Can kneeling before the inescapable sacredness of Death resurrect a buried rite to life?


My research will examine whether a complete phenomenological entering of the human into this natural space of death can reveal a sacred pathway to life, both by examining the impact of patriarchal religious ideology upon life and by embracing the natural phenomenon of Death as sacred initiator into the Mysteries of Life.

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