The Cloisters, New York City

What a beautiful day it is! The trees below, in the parking lot have changed colours and are dancing gaily with the wind.  The sun is out spreading an illusion of warmth, and conning people stepping out of their heated apartments, into the chilly autumn breeze .Trick or Treat!!

Oh wouldn’t it be lovely if for just one day in a year souls departed could visit us from the Far Shore? If we could pretend we are back where we used to be. If in the dim light of  candles and floating lanterns, we could see those we may never see again; welcome them, honour them, and send them back in peace. If on a cold night, we could warm ourselves with love lost.

I am sitting in my balcony admiring Autumn  below me, and New York City across the river. I have bright red gloves on my hands which I alternately take off and put on for the ease of typing, and on a little table next to me a bottle of water and some “aval” . For years, these beaten rice crispies mixed with a side of curds is what my grandmother had for dinner. She would pick out the groundnuts from her plate and give them to me as a treat. I’m thinking of her. ..and others.

If you are looking for a place to visit in NYC for Halloween, I suggest you go to the Cloisters . The Cloisters museum and gardens is a branch of the MET museum devoted to  the art and architecture of medieval Europe, mostly from around the twelfth through the fifteenth century. The whole place has a very esoteric feel to it. It whispers the story of the severe life of monks and nuns in the centuries past. In those whispers, perhaps are the murmurings of how a new religion adapted practices from the older ones and made them its own.

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Don’t miss the burial chamber, where every sarcophagus has a pet animal on it. Were each of those laid to rest  accompanied by a pet? Was their pet laid to rest with them? This is the spookiest chamber in the museum and a great place to take your Halloween pictures. Just not as a slutty pumpkin or Mickey Mouse! The basement houses the “Treasure”, which along with other objects created for liturgical celebrations, personal devotions, and secular uses, holds  a linen on which is detailed out the genealogy of Christ.

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My personal favorite room, along with the crypt, was the room housing the tapestries depicting The Hunt of the Unicorn.  My heart goes out to the unicorn. It is chased and hounded, and finally when it is tamed by a young virgin, it is killed. Instead of a mourning procession, its body is carried with great pomp and show to the castle. Oh,to kill a beast with love! Could they not find a crueler way to kill it? Although the beautiful creature is slayed in the 6th panel, it is depicted alive,and in captivity on the last panel. Can a unicorn rise from the dead, like a phoenix? Is this a separate unrelated piece? My knowledge is limited, but I know that the pagan unicorn hunt was absorbed by Christian doctrine as a symbol for the passion of Christ. Does this panel represent his resurrection?

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While you’re at the Cloisters, take a moment to enjoy the gardens and the tiny cafe. Just like at the MET, there is a suggested entry fee ( $25 per adult), but you can pay what you feel is appropriate and affordable.  They are open 7 days a week from 10:00 am to 5:15 pm,  March to October and 10:00 am to 4:45 pm, November to February.

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