Coping after COVID: The Burn aimsto heal spirits after pandemic loss

Feb 7, 2023 | Headlines, Life

The Scarborough Civic Centre is hosting an immersive installation described as a “spiritual healing vessel” to help people coping with loss and suffering from the COVID 19 pandemic.

The installation at Scarborough, which opened on Feb. 6 for only four days and ends on Thursday, was curated The Toronto History Museum and three artists and it’s part of city wide exhibit called The Burn.

“My cousin died from COVID-19 last year and I’m from New Jersey, so it was difficult to fly there at the time,” said Eric Candelario, a Toronto resident visiting the Scarborough Town Centre on Monday.

“This is a great chance for people to mourn family members lost — doesn’t matter where you come from,” said Candelario.

People have an opportunity to come together and heal from the pandemic’s effects and the loved ones lost all over the world.

Three artists named, Catherine Tammaro, Javid JAH, and Roger Mooking collaborated and created The Burn to offer healing and transformation.

This is done through a ceremony including the sacred elements of fire, water, smoke, ash, and the earth’s materials.

At Scarborough Civic Centre the installation includes brief instructions and a gold vessel.

People can pick up a small cedar sphere and sit down to reflect on their intention.

“The goal is to bring people together from all walks of life and spaces, so we wanted to use forms like sacred geometry that were universal,” said Tammaro, alumni of OCAD University.

Once they pick up the sphere, people are instructed to hold the sphere close to the their heart and eventually release the sphere into the vessel and let go with a deep breath.”

Catherine Tammaro is a Wyandot Spotted Turtle Clan Faith Keeper and multi-disciplinary artist who has over forty-years of experience in the creative industry.

Tammaro said that when creating this experience, the artists want to be careful to not be syncretic and overlap things that become enmeshed.

“The indigenous component was embraced by Roger and Javid to honour the lens of the people who have always been here,” she said.

Tammaro also said that sacred geography and spirituality precedes the new age by thousands of years.

She said The Burn is an opportunity for us to recover and move forward in a “spiritually and beautiful way that speaks of unity, sisterhood, brotherhood, two-spirit hood, and all other kinds of people.”

One of the creators of The Burn, Roger Mooking was born in Canada and is known for his work as a chef, television host, author, and creator for immersive experiences in the arts.

Mooking said that this design needed “intimate knowledge of the elements at play” along with the desire to bring this to life in the most meaningful way.

“Everyone’s experience will be different, but the intent is simply to share in love and healing,” said Mooking.

The very last commemorative ceremony will be held at Nathan Phillips Square on March 11 to 12 for a 24-hour experience.

Mooking said, “we will be building three very large monuments of steel, fire, light, and sound; standing in pools of water and the cavities of these vessels are fire pits with raging fire.”

The cedar spheres that have been “charged” with the intentions of the citizens of the city will be burned in a ceremonial cleanse using the scared elements of fire and water.

The ashes collected from the burned materials will be harvested and repurposed to secure and protect community gardens around the city.

The Burn’s installation are happening in 20 different locations, the addresses and open hours can be found on the city of Toronto’s website under Toronto History Museums.