It is now almost mid-autumn, leaning towards Autumn Equinox – the second harvest festival. In the old Pagan calendar, it is already autumn as I mention. The nights start to get a bit darker, the sun sets a bit earlier, the thoughts of root vegetables and bringing in the harvest, transitioning the internal rhythm from Summer to Autumn then to soon beckoning Winter.
I just finished reading a book written by Gede Parma, “Ecstasic Witchcraft magick, philosophy, and trance in the shamanic craft”. What moved me to purchase this book was the chapter touching on the Ancestors.
I will share an excerpt:
Quote: “Ancestors, we call to/Light the flame remember you/through the veil, across the tides/we will remember your lives./All those who are a part/of our families and our hearts/sail across the sunless sea/wheel turning eternally.”
– Gede Parma and Hannah van der Es of WildWood-
“…. If we truly reflect upon it, we see the sum of our ancestral line and then some. We are who we are, unique and therefore potent, but also the result of the blood, sweat, and tears (quite literally) of our ancestors and the stories they wove. We might not necessarily like our stock, and various members of our family tree may have committed unjust atrocities that we do not agree with or endorse; however, we must remember them.
Re-membering in the true sense is reconciling the disparate pieces and fragments of memory and creating a new wholeness of their coming together. Therefore, in remembering there is forgiveness, rest, and revelation. We understand that through the tests and trials of time there is hope. Hope, the last to leave Pandora’s box, is the stuff of life.
We can only hope, because we cannot always know or be completely certain. To hope and trust and love – these are the blessings of the revelations of the ancestors.”
As we look towards Samhain, the Witches New Year, and are in the present of Autumn’s Harvest unfolding… It is important we take extra care to pay attention to our internal nudges and pulls when it comes to the Ancestors. I can say freely that the Ancestors, the grandmothers and the grandfathers have been actively close with me – more so than in the past, with their presences and showing me messages in different forms and shapes. The practice of recognizing and honoring the Ancestors is so important and visceral even more today than ever before.
In America, death is still a taboo in many ways due to the Judeo-Christian religious teaching that there is a Heaven, a Hell and no place in between, that there will be a Judgment Day, etc. I do not endorse nor do I believe in these things. I grew up – in this life – being taught these things and eventually, out of my own volition and questioning, I decided to go on my own path of Spirituality.
In the Victorian times, death was rampant and very present in everyday life. So many people died. They developed many traditions of honoring the dead during that time. That is when black became a popular color for funeral and/or mourning clothing to be worn. Black crepe ribbons were tied on the front doors to signal where a death had occurred. Mirrors were covered with black cloth out of respect for the dead. These traditions have grown and changed over time; though, black is a representative clothing color for mourning in America.
There are many different ways and traditions to honor the dead and the Ancestors. One Irish tradition which I resonate deeply with is having a feast of several courses and a plate for that Ancestor set at the table, toasting them at each course and remembering them, celebrating them, sharing stories.
Setting up an altar to honor the beloved Dead is another way to honor the Ancestors. Photographs, dautterotypes (old fashioned photographs), etc can be set up on a main altar for the Ancestors. There can also be individual altars honoring specific beloved Dead. It doesn’t need to be limited only to human bodies as the Ancestors. Animal familiars also are honored and remembered as the beloved Dead.
One reason why it strikes a deep chord to share a bit of these musings upon the Ancestors, why? I received word via text message on my mobile phone earlier this evening that my step-mother’s 51 year old brother is now approaching his final leg into dying and passing through the Veil. Hospice has been care taking him especially during this final leg of his journey with cancer.
It is never ever easy to let go of a beloved family relative especially if it has been a debilaiting dis-ease that has been the cause of the death to unfold. I cannot imagine the weight of grief that is heavy now on the mother and children who are witnessing this man’s final journey into death.
Though, I am definitely and certainly more than familiar with the experiences of grief, loss, and death. I feel Death to be a door into new life.
What I feel is important at this time is to send as much compassion, kindness, and wishes of comfort to be found for them all in this time of grief and loss. So, here it is… Without ado….
I am holding up my step uncle Tony in the Light, may his death passing be gentle and quick. May his journey through the Veil be peaceful and welcomed home in a good way by his Ancestors and beloveds who are awaiting his return to their sides. May grace, peace, and comfort be given to my step-mother and her family who are all affected by this loss and grief. May compassion and strength be given to my bio father who is there to give comfort with my step-mother in this time of grief and loss.
I will sing my Ancestor medicine song and hold vigil in my own way for my step uncle Tony as he will be passing at any time tonight or tomorrow.
Blessed be, a new Ancestor, as you cross the Rainbow Bridge.
That’s my thoughts for now. For sure, I will write more musings on these varying themes in the coming seasons of autumn and winter.