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, August 1, 2012

Making Amends with the Dead

Death doesn’t always give us time to get affairs in order before it comes and more often, when it does, it leaves behind things unfinished for both the dead and the living. There are conversations we needed to have that are no longer possible in the physical world. In my own life, I needed forgiveness from one of my ghosts. I had a friend who ended his life, and my last words to him were said in anger, out of a place of being wounded. In a place of pain, I blamed him for an assault that happened to me and refused to speak to him. And then he was gone.
I never saw his pain. I never knew how deep his wounds were until it was too late and I tortured myself with the guilt I carried. When I eventually came to a place of believing I was worthy of happiness, and needed to take action, I did it for me. Because I was killing myself inside by hanging onto that old wound.
It’s not that I expected him to manifest from ether before me. It’s not like I expected to hear him say he forgave me. But whether we are seeking forgiveness or we are being asked to forgive, I do believe it is the humbleness of being in that moment that is more important than the outcome. If we are forgiven or not, whether we choose to forgive or find we are not ready to, at least the seeker can say they tried everything they could. At the very least, they can forgive themselves and move on. And that is what I needed to do.
I picked a dark moon, when there was no light in the sky but the stars, when the black around me was inky thick. I sat in a place of fear and allowed myself to face it and found that the guilt I carried was heavier than the dark around me. It was long past time to seek peace.
I burned some sage and copal to clear the space around me and call in protective energies to my heart. I called to my friend, using words that would pull his spirit, memories that only his ghost would answer to. I did this until the air around me felt thick with his presence. Whether he appeared on his own like a true spectre or it was my memories that wove him out of the air, the desired outcome was the same. I felt like I was standing in the grove with him.
I cried first, before my voice could find its footing. It felt familiar, the two of us stealing moments to analyze the chaos around us. The familiarity was painful in how pleasant it was. I told him how much I missed him. I asked him to forgive me for not seeing beyond my own pain. And I told him my secret, the one I had kept from him all those years ago.
I finally put words to the event that happened to me. I explained why I blamed him for not being there to protect me. I apologized for my anger. And in the weaving of words previously unspoken I was forced to see my life with clear eyes.
I had made a poppet out of red fabric. I held it in my hands, pouring pain into it as I spoke. When I had no more words to say I told him that I loved him and that I wished him peace. I threw it into the fire and watched it burn. And it burned through me for a moment. I was time travelling backwards to the moment of my past when I chose to lash out at him rather than tell him what had happened to me. Only this time, at that edge, I made a new choice.
It didn’t change the past. It didn’t rewrite history. Somewhere in my heart, I felt the change in me. I felt the pain of then and knew with certainty that today, even facing that same pain, I would never make that same choice. With that knowledge, the past wound was salved and began to heal. So in a sense, I was able to step back in time and make a different choice. That healing work, once finished, rippled outwards through my core, altering other places that had been affected by that pain.
I sought forgiveness for me. Even if he were alive, my guilt and shame might not have been enough to revive our friendship after all this time. But it still would have allowed me the experience of knowing I had changed enough to mean my words. That they were not born from guilt, but of repentance. I would have known that I was a new person who deserved to free myself of such incredible guilt. Even if he were alive and still hurting, I could have allowed myself the freedom to move on, and hope that eventually he would be able to as well.
My friend is still dead. My last words to him were still in anger, but it was a learning experience and a choice I have proven I would not make again. Since that dark moon ritual, I have not been plagued by the nightmares of guilt that I had been. I remember him fondly, without that pang of culpability I would feel over his death before. It was his choice that he made, for no one but himself.
What I can and have done, is to be careful of my words. I choose not to speak words that I may not mean after they burn through me. I have decided that the cycle of anger and hurt will end with me. I will not perpetuate it further.
This is how I made amends with a loved one who is no longer living. Had the rolls been reversed, I might have called on him to forgive him for his words to me as well, again so that I might move on. Life lessons mean nothing if we learn nothing from them. All our magic is for our own healing and growth and if we open ourselves to the larger world around us, we can find peace from those unspoken things that haunt us.

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