Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

With Ribbons I Honor the Dead

Ancestor ribbons hang like prayer flags, cotton fiber suspended from wood, green and quick with living energy. As the greenery around them grows and blooms and falls and dies, the names written on the simple muslin strips grow faint and fade into the grey of gloaming. Edges tatter against wind and rain, witness to the turning of the world as both ribbons and seasons unravel.

It is a simple gesture, these words on white cotton. An offering, the memory of a name that whispers to the stars at night, this person was loved, this person is remembered, this person was here. There are so many names that swim in my mind, so many names that bear remembering. If I live long enough, the number of names may someday outnumber the ribbons I make, which could be a sad acknowledgment but knowledge is what we make of it and I choose to see it as a blessing for the number of people I have connected to and a gratitude for the number of lives I have known and will know in this lifetime.

There are many people whose names I write, who were loved by me and loved me, whose bodies are returning to the same earth I still pull my energy from. The most beloved of my ghosts, who loved me in breath, feed me still. I find my strength in that emotional bridge. The connections we make transcend worlds. But sometimes the brain forgets that truth, the hurt resurfaces and I ride a brief wave of sorrow.

The price of love is loss, eventually. Loss can be sweetened by memory and the act of remembering. I write the names of people who challenged me and were instrumental in my evolution and growth. I write their names on ribbons and hang them on bowers, arbors and trees.

Over time, the natural fiber weakens and frays, taking a similar journey to the ones our bodies do when our spirit has left it. I do little more than witness and speak the names aloud until I can no longer see enough ink to remember which ribbon belonged to which name. Little pieces will fall, stolen away for materials to flesh out nests and burrows for eggs and litters and new generations.

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