As a child, I thought of Halloween as a fun night to dress up and gorge on candy. Like many holidays, there are much deeper cultural traditions underlying All Hallows’ Eve. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos can be traced back to ancient Aztec ceremonies and beliefs. The echoes we hear from one tradition to another are an important reminder that we are interconnected. Each culture is not an island, isolated from all others. Instead, we build on, inspire, and are inspired by each other.
Mrs. Beorn is from Mexico and she has introduced many aspects of the Dia de los Muertos celebration to our household. One of my favorite elements of this celebration is the construction of an altar. Above you can see our altar for this year. We include photos, memorabilia, favorite foods, and anything which serves to remind us of our loved one who have passed on. By offering all of the things they most enjoyed in life, the idea is that their spirit will come back to visit us on the day that the boundary between the land of the dead and the land of the living is lifted. It’s a beautiful tradition, as the altar provides us with plenty of opportunity to recall fond memories of our loved ones.
On of the stories that is sometimes associated with the Day of the Dead is a tragic tale of a mother who loses her children. La Llorona (the crying woman) is as tragic as anything Tolkien wrote in the Silmarillion. It has deep roots in Mexican culture, and it’s first telling can be traced back to pre-Hispanic times. Those interested in the mythology and story-telling traditions of other cultures are strongly encouraged to look into any one of the various adaptations of this story.
In the spirit of the season, I decided to build an alt-art deck around the story of La Llorona. I borrowed the idea of a Grey Wanderer Galadriel deck from an excellent design by Some Sort called All Shall Love me and Despair. The central strategy remains intact, I’ve just added a few new tricks from the ALeP toolbox. The visual style makes for a dramatic theme.
The contract allows Galadriel to start with Nenya attached, and also grants her a Lore resource icon. Use the One Ring to fetch Well Preserved. Between that and the contract, healing Galadriel should not be a problem. All of the artifacts are gifts to be bestowed upon Galadriel, which will allow her to take undefended attacks. Your threat is sufficiently low that most combat can and should be be avoided. Focus on mustering enough willpower to quest successfully every turn. Elendilmir allows you to use Galadriel’s ability twice every round, which is helpful to offset the threat raise of the contract and The One Ring. The Master Ring is actually better here than A Test of Will, because it can be used to cancel an enemy which could cause problems, especially in the early critical rounds. You can find the complete deck list on RingsDB.
It was a labor of love to find the right art to capture the story and broader theme of Dia de los Muertos. I hope you enjoy the theme and art. If you have a moment this month, take an extra second to think about a lost friend or loved one. Happy memories of those we miss may be an ache, but they are ultimately medicine for the heart.
This is stunning. Did you make alt-art versions for the sideboard cards?
No, it was a process finding the right art for the deck. I could add the sideboard, but it would involve some work to find appropriate art. I’m glad that you like the deck.
Completely understandable. I dread to think how many hours it must take to track down art of this quality