Dusk Ceremony at The Elephant House
Saturday 19 May 2012
LanternsRookwood Anglican and General Trusts are inviting members of the public to visit the cemetery to participate in a community ceremony in a unique setting. The Dusk Ceremony at The Elephant House will take place as night begins to fall on the Necropolis on Saturday the 19th of May.
In its second year, The Dusk Ceremony offers the community a meaningful and symbolic location to reflect on and remember those who are no longer with us, and provides the opportunity for people to engage in a communal ceremony about laying to rest times that have past.043 candles
“This event is part of an ongoing project to lie to rest the myth that we are a death denying society and rather celebrates the relationships people from diverse cultures and faiths have and want to make with this most mysterious of our life passages,” said Victoria Spence, Founder of Living with our Dead and Facilitator of the event.
The Dusk Ceremony will invite participants to make a lantern, contribute to a fire sculpture and offer a setting where music, song,Mary Rapp Cellist art and ceremony are used to create an evocative space for reflection. After the ceremony visitors are invited to stay for a light supper and collect their thoughts around a fire sculpture.
“The Dusk Ceremony demonstrates to the community that there is far more to Rookwood than just funerals and memorials. We want to communicate to people that coming to the site for a reason other than to attend a funeral really isn’t so morbid. It really is a beautiful, peaceful place and it is unfortunate that our society seems to be bound by a cultural captivity of fear of cemeteries. The cemetery is taking a proactive role in engaging with the community in an aim to break down this fear,” said Derek Williams, General Manager of Rookwood Anglican and General Trusts.

 “The ceremony is a multi-functional project – it is a mechanism for supporting members of the community who are seeking a meaningful outlet to lie to rest those who have passed or times that have passed, whilst also inspiring the community to re-familiarize themselves with Rookwood and its significance in our heritage,” said Mr Williams.

elephanthouseThe Dusk Ceremony will take place in and amongst the surrounds of one of the oldest and most exquisite buildings in Rookwood – The Old Anglican Rest House (affectionately known as The Elephant House). The Elephant House was built in 1873 with a Victorian architectural style and until now has not been put to use since the 1930’s. The ceremony will begin in the midst of the picturesque Serpentine Canal – a feature that weaves its way through the cemetery and is adorned with urns, fountains and statues. The Canal pre-dates the 1890’s and is an iconic feature of Rookwood.
“We are also introducing the wider community to the garden cemetery in the Old Anglican section. An architectural marvel that offers us much opportunity to enjoy it today as a lace in which people of all faiths and spiritualties can gather to experience a little bit of the sacred within the everyday,” said Victoria Spence.
“The Dusk Ceremony falls at a time of the year where we honour the completion of our growing season, of harvest and the lighter more active months. We enter into our time of rest and renewal. In these months, we begin to dream and conceive the seeds of possibility, for when spring comes. In many spiritual and religious traditions this is the time of year for renewal and for the deep, transforming power of rest within the growing darkness,” said Victoria Spence.
Rookwood is a place rich in heritage, history and culture and nurturing and developing the cultural fabric of the site is of great significance to the Anglican and General Trust. Projects such as the Dusk Ceremony and the annual sculpture exhibition coming up in September allow people to take in the beauty of the site and appreciate it from a different perspective.
The Dusk Ceremony is open to the public and is free of charge. For further information, location details and to rsvp, go towww.livingwithourdead.comor call Victoria Spence on 0431 123 129.
The Dusk Ceremony at The Elephant House is facilitated by Living with our Dead and is a supporting event of Hidden: A Rookwood Sculpture Walk 2012.


The proceedings for the afternoon are as follows:

From 3.30pm
meet at the Serpentine Canal

Participants enter at the cnr Necropolis Drive and Necropolis Crt to make lanterns and explore the surrounds. There will be musicians and writers performing, an artist to facilitate lantern making and an opportunity for visitors to express what they would like to lay to rest and bring to life in the months to follow.

4.30 - 6pm Gathering and Ceremony

Participants re-gather and make their way to The Elephant House. There will be a ceremony at Dusk, as the sun sets, inside the Elephant House at the conclusion of which people can light their lanterns. All elements will be represented in The Elephant House – earth, water, incense, mounds of earth and fabrics draped from the ceiling in which people can place notes or whatever they would like to lay to rest. Participants will then be guided to walk out of The Elephant House where they can eat soup and bread with one another whilst sitting around the fire sculpture and listening to a musician.