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, October 30, 2013

To Honor the Recent Dead

When working with spirits, I don’t call upon those who are recently deceased. It feels cruel to call upon a soul that may be struggling to let go of it’s human skin. Or maybe it’s cruel to the human grieving. Maybe the more that time passes, the less human their spirits seem to us, and the easier we can open to them. Whichever side of the living or dead needs the time to heal, I don’t call upon or attempt to work with a spirit who has been dead for less than a year. In fact, with spirits who died unwell, I may wait many years before trying.
I keep that in mind in my daily practice, and again at Samhain and Halloween, when the everyday spirits who walk among us are more easily perceived. I make myself still my grief’s desire to call to those who have not been dead long. In my work, I refer to the spirits who die, from Samhain to Samhain, as the Recent Dead. This is the time when I call on my ancestors and ask them to help welcome and shepherd over the Recent Dead, specifically those spirits who might not yet have realized it is time to cross over.
I light my ancestor altar and call my ancestors, the lines of Eaton, Riddle, Ruston, and Art. I call out the names of some of the ancestors I have found on my family tree, calling in the ageless time that is the ancestral pool: Sibilia de Lea, Sir Henry Norreys, Captain Roger Clapp, Waitstill Wyatt, Heman Sears, Hattie Eva Dutcher; Gwethlin Wensliana, Robert Moulton, Rev. William Gylette, Freeborn Wolfe, Isaac-Etienne Paquet de Lavallee, Annatje Goedemoet, Thomas Ridel, Rosella LaRoche; Barnardus Jacobus Turner, Dafydd Riggs, Hester Mathieu, Albrecht Zabriskie, Emma Angeline Whitcher, Hiram King Wicker; Mary Dowd, John F. Pils, Katherine Maria Schmeelk, Margaret Loretta Burke.
I am because you were.
I call the names of my Beloved Dead, of those known in this lifetime, known and loved by me. They are the names of those I think of often and fondly, and though I miss them, I celebrate their memory in the act of reciting their names: Ruth Ruston Eaton, Harold Riddle, Mark Dutcher Eaton, Melinda Tanner, Elizabeth Fricke, Jeff Patterson, Willie Lingenfelter, Elsie Durant Riddle, Gabe Reynolds, Joel Pelletier, Victoria Eaton, Edward J. Jerge, II, Trent Illig, Donna Riddle, Jurgen Banse-Fey, Charles “Sienna Fox” Duvall, Jack Singer, Tommy Amyotte, Paul Seeloff, Richard James Riddle, Brett Elsess, Andrew Begley, Susan Alvarez-Hughes, Coswald Mauri, Norm Herbert, Jad Alexander, Dr. August Staub, Princess Leather Falcor, Martha Dayton, Melvin Chausse, John Croom, Karl Weber, Luna Jackalope, Thomas E. Malinowski, Albert Gritzmacher III, Luna the wolfe, Joshua Verity, Freya Moon Greenleaf.
            I am the better for having known you.
I pour water into a glass, offering a libation to my honored guests. I ask them to watch over and welcome our friends and loved ones who have died in this last year, and then I speak the names of the Recent Dead, known to me and my loved ones, lighting a candle for each person:
John M. Rosenburg, Jr.
Gary French
Joshua Fingerhut
Barbara Jean Schiffert
Bella, our beloved bear-cat
Russell Whitmire
Ken Koch
Soja Arumpanayil
After the candles are lit, I sing, because it makes me happy. I sing and I think about all of the warm, joyful memories I have with each of those I lit a candle for. I think about how much they meant to me, and my journey, and I let my heart fill. My heart becomes the focal point for the energy I radiate into the universe. Even in my grief, what I send out is love.
Afterwards, I thank the Ancestors with a Dumb Supper, a Feast for the Dead. We dine in mirror to what the spirits remember, from dessert to appetizer, offering them the first and best of each dish, our honored guests. What is left from the feast is offered to the animals of the natural world, as an offering to the living from the dead.
I owe my breath to all those who came before me. Good or bad, they are branches of living energy that feed down into me. I am because they were. My nieces and nephew are because they were. I honor and I remember.

What is remembered lives. What is remembered never truly dies.

Miss you and love you, Bella Bella.

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