Skryclad: Clothed In Visions

Observations of the light and the dark of what is, was, and might be in the Pagan community's expansion and evolution.

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Parting Gifts

 

This past Saturday, I attended a remembrance circle for a member of one of our covens. It was held on her birthday, about one year after her death. There had been ceremonies immediately after her death, but the passage of time allowed this ritual to focus more upon a celebration of her life than upon loss. Almost everyone present chose to speak about the times that they had shared with her. It is often said that funerary rites are more for the living than for those who have gone ahead. For the most part I agree with that statement, though in this case I believe that there were mutual parting gifts.

 

Without going into all the particulars of the ritual and the individual that was honored, it is enough to say that she died young and perhaps unnecessarily. As more and more people spoke, certain common themes began to emerge. Despite a difficult life fraught with both emotional challenges and physical challenges, she was remarkably kind and generous to both friends and strangers. She was also delightfully blunt and more than willing to share deliciously snarky comments in the proper company. She was neither a saint nor a buddha, and was legendary for her stubbornness. One of the values of this remembrance circle taking place long after her death was that her friends and coven mates were able to speak truth about her. Often in the time right after a person's death the emotions of the moment tend to paint the person's life in idealized terms. At this ritual she was honored for her humanity in its full range of expression.

 

In addition to shared memories, most of the people in the ritual also offered blessings upon her path in death. People asked that she fully learn the lessons of her life as she reviews them in the Summer Land. People asked that when she is reborn that she has the opportunity to return to live in the company of people that have known her and loved her before. People prayed that she might be granted a longer life, a healthier body, and more joy mixed in with the challenges of life when next she returned. There was chanting, toning, and power raised to offer up these parting gifts to she who has crossed the veil.

 

The remembrance of her life also gave parting gifts to each of the attendees. In the telling truths about her life we were reminded to be kinder and more generous to one another. In the telling of truths about her life we were urged to live life fully and not to postpone both difficult and joyous tasks. In the telling of truths about her life we reaffirmed our pledges to the work of staying together as a community. In that circle we were given the gift of honoring every part of the journey in the turning wheel of life.

 

I hope that you'll consider the concept of parting gifts between the living and the dead more deeply. You may find that there are ways to incorporate this idea into your practices or to give it a greater emphasis if it is already there. I believe that there is a great deal of work that needs to be done to embrace and to normalize the presence of death in our world. Since I do believe in an afterlife, I also believe that these gifts foster our continuing relationship with the departed.

 

May she go forth shining.

 

 

Public Service Announcement:

 

   Please consider the importance of regular gyn exams and encourage your friends and loved ones to do so as well. If you or your friends and loved ones avoid these exams due to emotional or psychological trauma, please seek help. If it is a matter of finances, please ask as often resources can be found. I make this announcement in memory of she who has passed.

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Ivo Domínguez, Jr. is a visionary, and a practitioner of a variety of esoteric disciplines who has been active in Wicca and the Pagan community since 1978. He serves as one of the Elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan syncretic tradition that draws inspiration from Astrology, Qabala, the Western Magickal Tradition and the folk religions of Europe. He is the author of Keys to Perception: A Practical Guide to Psychic Development, Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans, Casting Sacred Space: The Core Of All Magickal Work; Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine; Beneath the Skins with other books in the pipeline as well.
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