In honor of my ancestors, and most especially my Aunt Helen, who was my godmother and quite possibly the craziest Aunt ever, I decided to make shrunken heads this year alongside my usual sugar skulls.
Shrunken Heads are, in essence, dehydrated apples carved to look a little like human skulls and a little like, well, shrunken human heads. I used the dehydrator method for drying them, but you could just as easily pop them into an oven at super low heat (around 150 degrees F/65 degrees C) for a few hours, too.
I chose to give heads made from apples a go in part because apples are tied to the idea of longevity. They’re one of the longest cultivated fruits known to human kind, heralding back to 2000 BCE at least. Domestication aside, apples are one of the fruits you don’t necessarily need to preserve to keep ’em through winter. Apples, especially when kept in a root cellar or other accommodations close to but not quite freezing, will slow their ripening process considerably. That’s why you can buy apples that seem as good or nearly as good as fresh in April in cold climates.
Not only do I want to thank my ancestors for carrying the DNA for longevity through the ages to me, I also want to bring that connection with long life and good health into a conscious place for myself and my progeny. A few shrunken heads on this year’s Dia de lose Muertos altar is one way I can do that…and unlike the sugar skulls I offer up to the spirits of the place where I live after the day is done, I can keep the shrunken heads around as a connection to my ancestors all year-round.
My Favorite Shrunken Heads How-tos
Beyond Shrunken Heads: Other Apple Magic Ideas
- Apple Tea for long life – add 5 dried apple pieces to your favorite tea or combine them with cinnamon, black tea or rooibos tea, a little vanilla, and a piece of allspice.
- Fire Cider – make fire cider to boost your immune system and support general health
- Add apple twigs or dried leaves to your incense blend for longetivity or as a support to the duration and strength of your working
- Cider Vinegar – Make your own Cider Vinegar for digestive health all year round.
- Hard Cider – Make Hard Cider to please your ancestors and the rest of your family and friends this fall.