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, November 30, 2011

Being a Memory Keeper

Inevitably, parts of my journey involve taking in everything I have learned and processing through it, letting it change the way I see the world and my place in it. Not in large or grandiose ways, but in small ways that alter my perception. I am becoming a Memory Keeper, a library of details of lives that have passed on, bits and pieces of flesh that will tell a larger story when I have collected more of them.
Genealogical research is like putting together a giant puzzle. There are names and people that fit into the lifeline that becomes me. You have to match dates against places, children born and occupations. To help with my tasks, I split my ancestry into four pages, four mysteries to track down. There is my mom’s mother and father and then my dad’s mother and father. It simply made it easier for me to learn the names and histories while I kept track of where they fell in my family tree.
I went upwards, starting at myself, thinking of myself as patient zero, since all paths end in me. I have been going from parents to parents, through direct ancestors and their marriages, one generation at a time. My research is a tree, growing up and splitting into forks with every name found, reaching still for names undiscovered and unknown. I want to know where I came from. I want to know the migration of my people.
In less than a year I found two paths of immigrants who came to settle the new world, one maternal and one paternal, both traced back to the Norman invaders, traced back to the same village of Vikings. From my mother and my father backwards, around the vastness of family trees joining and splitting, merging and separating, I trace them back to the same village, to the same group of Vikings who claimed what would become Normandy. Could those comrade-in-arms have imagined that a thousand years after them their descendants would finally come together again? Is that not a wonder? Is that not a genius way of nature reminding us of our interconnectedness? It humbles me and fills me with peace.
And still… it prods something in my heart. It is sobering. In my research I try to include the names and birth dates of all of the children, not just the ones I am descended from. They flesh out more information about the lives my ancestors lived, how many children they had, how many survived… I made the decision though, for the sake of my sanity, not to delve into the lives of the siblings more than birth or death dates. If they are not a direct line to me, I don’t look into them more. My brain can only hold so many names and dates. But that means, if I were a future amateur genealogist, I would not pay attention to me.
I have no children. I will have no children. There will be no one to look back and find my name on their family tree as one of their ancestors. I don’t know why that fills me with such sadness. We are all forgotten, all eventually lost to the rivers of time. I may have discovered that “Mary unknown” wed one of my ancestors, but I don’t know who she was. And even though I know that Freeborn Wolfe, the name, came before me, I don’t know anything about her.
My nieces and nephew will remember me. My time with them has always been precious and too fleeting and I make the most of what we have. I am a loved one they see once a year, so much time stretching between captured moments. They know I love them but I am an occasion, like my own aunts and uncles who lived out of town were in my life. I hold the time we spend together in stasis from one to the next. Each time, they have aged a year of their life in seconds to me. They forget their youth, as we all do. But not me. I do not forget their youth. I remember everything.
My nieces will remember me and mourn me. But most of their children won’t know me. In the blink of a generation, I will be lost. Reflecting on all of the people that I don’t remember, the ancestors who once lived, and how little that not-knowing affects my life is, honestly, a weight off. It’s like the pressure of becoming an extraordinary person has dissipated and I understand I only have to be the best version of the person I am. What I want is to live fully present in myself and in my life so that when I die, I shall pass with such a dense burst of exhalation that the echo of my spirit vibrates on in the ether.
I am sometimes filled with the compulsion to go out and randomly carve my name in stone in the woods. I understand why so much of the world is covered in graffiti stating that so-and-so “was here.” The human part of me would at least be remembered in mystery than not at all. The spirit part of me understands that it is not our individual self that matters to the history of our species. It is how we evolve, how we migrate, how we leave the world behind us that is of importance.
If, when we die, we have touched lives and opened eyes, if we have loved and been loved, have we not made an impact on our world? This dance is at the core of the Work I do, the balancing shift between honoring the past and preparing a better future, and living in now. I don’t have any answers, just questions. How are my life choices rippling out into the future? How am I leaving this world a better one than I found it to be, for my nieces and nephew, for my grandnephew? For all those who will come after?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

They Came Across the Ocean

The winter is coming,
The dark and snow, the grey and cold are coming.
We stand at a threshold with the last of autumn harvests.
We prepare a meal with our Plenty,
A feast of light and joy to feed our fires,
Warm our bellies and bolster us.

Look at all we have to sustain us
While the earth sleeps and rests.

After the flood this year, many families in our city had to struggle with not having enough, with not having shelter or heat, facing the reality of tainted water. We learned just how far the love of others can stretch and soothe emotional wounds. Giving thanks feels much more relevant this year and my house is getting ready to celebrate the bounty of our harvest, to have gratitude for our abundance. We have. We are blessed in many ways. We have more than enough to eat. We have a home with heat and water. We have our health and the love of family and friends. For all of that I have gratitude that overwhelms my heart with happiness. For all of that I am thankful.

I am thankful for my breath.
I am thankful for this body, for a body.
I am thankful for the blood in this body and those who gave life to give mine.

Even if that was all I had, it would be something. What about those who gave this blood to me? What about those who travelled to an unknown world with little more than their bones and breath? They travelled across the ocean to an unknown world. They came with no guarantee of homes waiting for them. They came with what they could carry. They came across the ocean with hope and promise as their wealthiest possessions. I know from my research that they came as hired men, soldiers and freemen. They came as young girls, wives and mothers. They were all farmers and healers and teachers. They had to be. They came across the ocean for freedom, for a chance.

I am,
that they were,
that they are,
that they will be.

They came from England, on my mother’s side…in 1629.
Robert Moulton and his wife Deborah of St. Olaf immigrated to Salem, MA in 1629 on the George Bonaventure, hired by the English Company to build ships in New England. Ann Wilson and Michael Sallows, as well as Abigail Downing and John Goode of Ipswitch, came to Salem early in the new world. Henry Birdsall of Norwich immigrated to Salem after the death of his wife Judith in 1632. Peter Wolfe emigrated from England to Beverly, MA. Jeremiah Gillett came from Chaffcombe to Dorchester, MA sometime soon after his older brothers came on the Mary & John in 1630.
Richard Walker emigrated from Marlborough, England to Lynn, Massachusetts as a soldier in 1633. Thomas Wheeler travelled from Bourne End in 1637. He arrived with 4 of his brothers and 2 of his sisters. Henry Cooke immigrated to America in 1638 and was married in Salem in 1639 at 23. John Smith was born in Hertfordshire and immigrated to Connecticut in 1639. Abigail Goode was born in London but married in 1640 in Salem. Richard Holbrook, born in Glastonbury, immigrated to MA where he married in 1648 at the age of 29. Deacon Henry Baldwin was married in Woburn, MA in 1649, having emigrated from Devonshire. Nathaniel Briscoe, Jr. was born in Cambridge and immigrated to Connecticut by 1649.
Nicholas La Groves landed at Salem, MA from the Isle of Jersey in England around 1668, when he was 22 years old, as a Huguenot refugee. Joseph Boots was born in England, and died in Royalton, NY. Ruth Ireland and Charles Evan Ruston, born in Doddington and Chatteris, respectively, immigrated to America in 1881. She was 19 and he was 33 and they were the last of my ancestors who immigrated to America.

They came from England, on my father’s side…in 1630.
Joanna Ford emigrated from Dorchester, England to Dorchester, MA, on board the Mary & John in 1630, along with Captain Roger Clapp, whom she married in 1633. He was born in Salcombe Regis and arrived on the ship with Joanna and her family. George Dyer of Dorchester was on board, as were Elizabeth Cooke and her husband Thomas Ford, of Bridgeport.
Mary and Robert Pond came to Dorchester from Suffolk. John Gay left Plymouth, England in 1630 for Watertown, MA at the age of 14. His wife immigrated to Watertown from Headcom, England in 1635 at the age of 22. Abigail Gilson of Faversham married John Eaton of Dover in 1630. She was 29 and widowed with children. He was 18. They immigrated to Massachusetts together in 1635.
Frances Dighton of Glouchester and Richard Williams of Glamorganshire, Wales, were married in 1634. Their first child, John, is listed as dying “at sea” in 1636, perhaps as they were crossing. Anne and Thomas Bird emigrated from England to Dorchester. Mary Dyer was in Dorchester by 1641, when she married Sergeant William Pond.

They came from the Netherlands…after 1640, by 1660.
My father’s maternal and paternal lines are thick with Dutch blood. Wilhelm Willemsson Janseen Dutcher emigrated from Einigen to New York after the birth of his son Jan in 1640. Jan Wilhelm De Duitscher emigrated from Enigen, Netherlands and was married in NY at the age of 19, in 1660. Joost Huybertszen Van der Linde, born in Wageningen, was in New York by 1661 for the birth of his daughter. Hendrickle Stephense Van Voorhees, one of my female ancestors, had immigrated from Hees to Hackensack, NJ by her fifteenth year, 1675, when she married Albert Terhune.

They came from France… to Canada and America…by 1647.
Francoise Fafard, born in Argences, Caen, Bayeux married Joseph Mathurin Lemonier, born in Clermont, Lemans, Maine, had both immigrated to Montreal, Canada by their marriage in 1647. She was 22 and he was 27, ancestors of my maternal grandfather. Francois Le Sueur came to America from Dieppe with his sister Jeanne in 1657. He was a Huguenot and a civil engineer who helped build New Haarlem. Isaac-Etienne Paquet dit Lavallee came to Canada from St. Jean de Montaigue as a soldier in LaMotte’s regiment in 1665.

They came from Poland… I mean Prussia… I mean Silesia… in 1662.
Albrecht Zabriski, my father’s maternal ancestor, immigrated from Austrian Silesia in 1662 to New Jersey when he was 24 years old.

They came from Scotland…in 1728.
David Calhoun, a maternal ancestor shows in America by the age of 27 in 1728 when he married in Connecticut.

They came from Ireland…in 1758.
All of the Irish immigrants belong to my mother’s maternal and paternal lines. Thomas Ridel, aka Riddle, was the first immigrant from Ireland, arriving in Monson, MA in 1758. Nancy Machet and John Berry were married in Ireland in 1795, travelling to the new world after. A later relative, Thomas Berry, was in America by the early 1800s. Mary Dowd and David Conners arrived together mid-century.

They came from Germany…in 1848.
Katherine Maria Schmeelk immigrated to America with her family in 1848 at the age of 13 from Hesse Darmstadt, Germany. Her future husband, Adam Art, also emigrated from the same city in Germany. In 1855, at the age of 17, John F. Pils also left Germany for the new world. All three German immigrants represent my mother’s maternal line.

They came from Canada…in 1850.
My mother’s paternal family is heavy with French and French-Canadian heritage. Albert Durant was 8 when he immigrated to America from Quebec in 1850. Rosella LaValley and her family, shepherded by her father Francois Xavier Lavalle, came down from Providence, Canada. She was 18 when she married Albert, 20, in Mooers, NY.

Peace to you and yours.
May you never be hungry.
May you know love.
May you know gratitude.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ancestral Veterans

Burning of the USS Philadelphia, painting 1897.

War is in our history. It’s in every rise and fall of culture. The ghosts of battlefields long forgotten are littered with the blood of our ancestors. This year, for Veterans Day, I honor my ancestors who both waged war and stood defense, in service of their people.

Early Settlement
Captain Roger Clapp (1609-1690) was born in Salcombe Regis, England. He sailed to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1629 on the Mary and John. In 1665 Captain Clapp was placed in charge of the Dorchester Company stationed at Castle Island, the oldest fortified military site in North America, in Boston Harbor. He held the post for 21 years and was given a nine gun salute when he retired.
William Pond (1622-1690) was a Sergeant in the colonial militia from Dedham, Massachusetts, first generation of his family born in the new colony. Peter Wolfe (1606-1675) was born in England and immigrated to Beverly, Massachusetts. He served as a Lieutenant in the colonial militia in 1646, in defense of Salem, Massachusetts. Jeremiah Gillette (1650-1707) was a Sergeant in the colonial service of Connecticut. He was also the first generation of his family born in America, having emigrated from England.
Isaac-Etienne Paquet dit Lavallee (1636-1702) came to Canada, at age 28, in the Compagnie de LaMotte, Regiment de Carignan-Salieres in 1665. The first French regular troops arrived in response to pleas from the colonists of New France for aid in dealing with the Iroquois. Immediately they were dispatched to Richelieu, to begin construction on the forts of Saint-Louis and Saint-Therese, as well as the roads between. In the spring of 1666, Isaac's company built Forst Saint-Anne at Lake Champlain. They were dispatched into Iroquois country in September of 1667, but could not rouse the Indians into battle. The Iroquois used the end of this expedition as a means of brokering peace and LaMotte's famous regiment was disbanded. Isaac was one of 400 soldiers who elected to stay in the colonies rather than return to France. He was married, with his own homestead, in I'lle D'orleans three years later.

1754-1763 French & Indian War
Lemuel Lyon (1728-1781), born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, served in Timothy Walker's company during the French and Indian War in 1755. He is listed on the muster of Captain John Carpenter’s regiment in August of 1757. He was involved in the 1758 Battle at Fort Ticonderoga and kept a 35 page journal of his time there, which has been published with some other soldier accounts in the book, Narratives of the French and Indian War (2): the Diary of Sergeant David Holden, Captain Samuel Jenks, Lemuel Lyon, French Officer at the Siege of Quebec.

1775-1783 American Revolutionary War
Oliver Lozier, also Delozier, (born 1747) was born into a family well-established in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. He was a Bombardier, a noncommissioned officer, in Captain John Doughty's company, in Colonel John Lamb's regiment (2nd continental artillery). He was on the muster roll for April 1781 at West Point. Oliver enlisted in 1778 for the duration of the Revolution and was discharged April 4, 1783.
Born in Connecticut and taking up residence in Massachusetts, Freeborn Moulton (1717-1792) was Captain of a company of Minute-men of Monson. They were part of Colonel Danielson’s regiment which marched at the Lexington alarm of April 19, 1775 to Cambridge, where they remained until May 6, 1775.
Joseph Riddle (1763-1812), grandson of Captain Freeborn Moulton, enlisted young and served almost the full duration of the war. He was a Private in Captain Isaac Colton's company, Colonel David Brewer's (9th) regiment enlisting in 1775. In 1776 he is listed in Captain Joseph Munger’s company, regiment of Colonel Robert Woodbridge, the “Massachusetts Line.” By 1777 he shows as a Fifer in the 4th Massachusetts regiment under Captain Caleb Keep and Colonel William Shepherd, and later as a Drum-Major in General Glover’s brigade. He was at the battle of Burgoyne, charged with guarding the road to Albany as well as the battle of Monmouth, NJ in 1778. A year later he is mustered for the Continental Army in the 9th company for Colonel John Bliss’s 1st New Hampshire regiment. He was discharged from the Continental Army in June of 1780. Pension records list him as a cripple, so it was likely he was wounded.

1801-1805 The Barbary Wars
Peter De Lozier (1786-1849) was born in Connecticut. He joined the Navy and was on board the USS Philadelphia in 1803 when the government made moves to end piracy on the Barbary Coast. Commodore Edward Preble commanded the Mediterranean Squadron into a blockade in October. On Halloween, the USS Philadelphia ran aground on a coral reef. The entire crew, with their Captain, William Bainbridge, was captured and the ship was used by the opposing Navy as a gun battery. Peter De Lozier and his crew spent 30 months in a Tripoli jail. When the conflict was over, he mustered out of service and claimed residence outside of Lockport, NY. He married, took up cabinetmaking and had a daughter, but eventually left his family to return to the sea. He died of cholera in Connecticut without ever seeing his family again.

1812-1814 War of 1812
Martin Dutcher (1796-1872) was a Private in Captain Andrew A. VanDerzee’s “New Baltimore” company, Colonel Barnabas Carver’s 61st regiment in the War of 1812. He fought in the Battle of Plattsburgh, 1814. After the war he retired to Somerset, NY.

1861-1865 American Civil War
Adam Art (1836-1896) immigrated to New York from Hesse Darmstadt, Germany in the 1850s and served in the Civil War under Captain Levi Bowen, 29th Congressional district.

1914-1918 World War I
Royal Levant Eaton (1873-1931), a New York state prison guard, served in the National Guard during WWI.

Honoring Roots and Freedoms
I believe in peace and practices of non-violence. I know that I am able to believe in peace because I have known peace, and that I have known it because of the sacrifices those who came before me made, to acquire it for our country. Soldiers are men of principle and purpose who believe that the side they are fighting for is a just cause, no matter what history will later decide.
My ancestors were farmers, ministers, soldiers, crusaders and Norman invaders. In all of our histories, our ancestors were defenders and colonizers, pawns and pillagers, and brave men and women facing uncertain futures. They faced those futures for us, whether they knew it or not and we can honor them today by learning from our own history.
I have deep gratitude that soldiers past, present and future have and will risk their lives in the pursuit of freedom. They are more than regiments and companies. The most important thing I can remember is that an army of fighters is made up of men and women who have names and families. They are men and women who are husbands, wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. They are people of flesh and blood, of dreams and desire.

I am,
that they were,
that they are,
that they will be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For the Recent Dead

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart
(i carry it in my heart)
~ e. e. cummings

We passed through Samhain and the axis of the planet tipped those of us in the Northern Hemisphere into winter, just as the axis of the overlapping worlds tilted us into a place of thinning veils. In that place we bid our loved ones to slip into that other space we know as death. We don’t know it’s true nature or form and we all call it by differing names. It is a place that none of us shall know until it is our time, a mystery we must accept or spend our lives fearing and fighting. It is hardest to honor the Recent Dead, for the grief is still fresh and real in our bodies. We strengthen our reserves and let them go, holding memories instead of arms.
Who you were is no more, though who you were to us remains, shining brightly in the hearts of every soul you touched, every mind you moved and every heart you stirred. What was becomes something new. We light a lantern to show the way.
What was breath and laughter becomes memory. What was flesh and bone becomes earth. Vital fluids nourish what remains. What was spirit becomes star. We open the way for the dead. We open the way, within our breast, for the dead to cross over. We unlock the door to our grief and let the water flow through and become the river bearing spirits across. In our hearts, we become the way for the dead to cross over. May they be at peace.
The very first Spring Equinox I celebrated was while I was in college, facilitated by my partner’s T’ai Chi teacher and spiritual mentor, Thomas E. Malinoski, known to the Seneca people as Tom Kingfisher. He was an adopted elder in the Wolf Clan and a student and friend of Grandmother Twylah, as well as an artist and faculty member at SUNY Fredonia for many years. He led his T’ai Chi class, which he offered free of charge every Thursday in the Newman Center, and afterwards, as some people went home, he prepared the space for the Equinox celebration.
There was no pomp or pageantry to the ceremony he led us through, which only amplified its intensity for me. It was my first experience of awareness with sacred space outside of institutional religion. He opened a doorway for me that Equinox, though it would be a bit longer until I saw it and walked through it. Thomas Malinoski-Kingfisher passed away July 3rd, this last summer, after illness. May the Ancestors welcome him home and may his reunion with Grandmother Twylah be sweet and full of laughter.

At midnight on Samhain, I spoke a prayer for the recent dead, those of mine and the loved ones of friends. When we pass we do not cease to exist. We cease to be. But once we were here, once we were, we cannot be erased. We honor the memory of those who have gone before us:
Edward W. O’Rourke, beloved Godfather, passed April 4.
Be at peace, Edward.
Tom Malinoski, beloved mentor and friend, passed July 3.
Be at peace, Tom.
Pretty Penny the Guinea Hen, beloved companion, passed September 27.
Be at peace, Penny.
William Russell Norcross passed September 29.
Be at peace, William.
Ann Herrington, beloved Grandmother, passed October 9.
Be at peace, Ann.
Willis Kingsbury Rowell passed October 10.
Be at peace, Willis.
Debra Ann Martineau passed October 16.
Be at peace, Debra.
Sophie F. Bachurz passed October 17.
Be at peace, Sophie.
Josephine Elle Rispoli passed of cancer October 23 at the age of 7.
Be at peace, Josephine.
Michael Pullano, beloved teacher, passed October 26.
Be at peace, Michael.
Paul Sachs passed October 28.
Be at peace, Paul.
To those unspoken and unknown…be at peace.

As long as we live, they too will live;
For they are now a part of us:
As we remember them!
At the rising sun and at its going down we remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter we remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring we remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer we remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn we remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends we remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us. As we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart we remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make we remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share we remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs we remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live,
For they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
~A prayer from Gates of Prayer, the New Union Prayer book

**If you feel so moved, please add the names of those you loved who died within this last year in the comments section. May they all be at peace.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Songs from a Samhain Night

It’s important to know the history and etymology of the traditions we include in our lives, to be aware of their purpose and adapt them as needed. That is what our Ancestors did before us. What began as Samhain (sow-en), a Celtic fire festival honoring spirits, became All-Hallows-Even in the Christian calendar, honoring saints, and by the 16th century was called Halloween, which fell out of practice by the English in light of Martin Luther’s Reformation. This new religious system did not include the belief in saints and forewent the holiday set aside to honor them. Everything changes, all is in motion.
Like my Irish and Scottish ancestors, I believe the dead walk on Samhain night. For me, it’s not a myth or a folk superstition. Multiple worlds exist over top of one another. We live in one. Spirits live in others. On Samhain everyone can perceive this as true if they choose to. It is the most important festival I celebrate, and I dedicate several days to its activities.
At events throughout the year I facilitate Ancestor Shrines where people are invited to write the names of ancestors and deceased loved ones on ribbons and strips of muslin. I safeguard them until Samhain, where we ritually read the names of the remembered dead out loud. We pass the ribbons, taking turns to speak and honor the memories of loved ones. After the names are spoken into the dark, we burn the natural fiber strips in fire. The smoke sends the wishes, prayers and petitions into all the worlds, so those at unrest may know peace, both living and dead.

Harold Lafayette Riddle and Elsie Elizabeth Durant
Richard James Riddle and Donna McDonald
Mark Dutcher Eaton and Ruth Emma Ruston
Charles Duvall and Jurgen Banse-Fey
Tommy Amyotte and Paul Seeloff
Karl Weber and Susan Alvarez-Hughes

I carve my pumpkin with the intention of creating a lantern, as the jack o’ lantern is called. I create it to be a lighthouse that will guide spirits to my working. Whether I cut out the image of a tree, owl or series of stars, my jack o’ lantern will be a source of light in the darkness to help guide their way to me. On Samhain day, when the lanterns are lit, the house begins to smell faintly of pumpkin and apple.
At dusk I light the candles on my ancestor altar, which sits year-round in a permanent place in my office. It can be as simple as a glass of water and a candle, and as elaborate as you wish to make it, adding personal items like photos and mementos. At Samhain I fill the water glass with fresh cold water, for the spirits who thirst. I light a new candle and add candles to illuminate the space. I call my ancestors home, to feast with us.
In the gloaming time between light and dark we wait by the door for the knocks of small children wearing new and different skins. I offer them candy as a reward for their bravery. I remember how much knowledge I had as a child of the wholeness of the world that I lost as I grew into adulthood. I honor that in the children I meet until the dark falls and our supper begins.
A modest table set on black tablecloth is our Supper. The spirit chair at the head of the table is shrouded in black fabric. This chair is for All Spirits who wish to dine with us. Then a chair for me, a chair for my partner, and one each for the spirit we chose to invite. I always invite my Great-Grandmother, who I knew in life. I call Elsie in, light the candle on her plate and take care to offer her food before myself.
The Dumb Supper is served in silence, so as not to scare timid spirits who might wish a bit of remembered humanity when the veil is thin. I usually play instrumental music low, like cello or piano, to help drown out the noises from outside. The food we serve is homemade, prepared with loving hands. We dine backwards, dessert to salad, serving the spirit chair first, then our guests and then ourselves.
            Everything about the supper is the reverse of how we would normally eat. The courses and the place settings become a mirror image of life, the line where reflection meets image, where shadow meets physical form. The house is dark except for candlelight and we open ourselves to any impressions we might receive. We welcome in images, thoughts, perceptions from any spirits who wish to speak. Even in years when the spirits are silent, the supper is a deep and profound meditation.
Beneath Elsie’s plate is a note I wrote to her. I love you and remember you, always. You are as important to me in the spirit world as you were in the living one. Please continue to watch over our family and be a source of comfort to those struggling or in need. I will have you in spirit for as long as you wish to remain.

            Before I go to bed, I extinguish the lights in the rest of the house, all save those on my altar. I speak the names of those who died within this last year, separating the fresh grief from the old and opening a way for those who have not yet crossed over to do so if they will. These are my traditions, adapting and changing each year as my spirituality deepens. I remember those who came before me so that I better see where I stand and where I’m going. In my dreams I will pay attention once more, to visitations I might receive and messages I might be given, on the night when the edges are softest and the worlds and I are open to each other.

Relevant Posts:
Simple Sweeping Lines (posted September 29, 2010)
Setting a Place for the Dead (posted October 27, 2010)
Reflections from a Dumb Supper (posted November 2, 2010)
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.