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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in season of death

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Death Never Sleeps

La Muerte no duerme.

If the tales be true, some stormy night Old Hornie will ride up to the Old Warlocks' Home on a black horse (who knows, these days he may drive up in a black Porsche), sling me over his shoulder, and carry me off screaming into the night.

And they'll say: Well, that's the end of him.

Well, maybe. Otherwise, barring the unforeseen or the mob with torches and pitchforks (these things do happen), I'll have my heart attack and be dead before I hit the ground. That's generally how men in my family die. My lifelong vegetarianism may buy me a few extra years and better health at the end, but the final prognosis is nohow in doubt.

With luck, I'm looking at another 30 years ahead; with lots of luck, maybe another 40. I've always admired the title of Margaret Murray's autobiography: My First Hundred Years. She died at 101.

In every language that I've ever studied, death is a noun, but, of course, death is not a noun, a thing. What we call death is a cessation, a stoppage: when the parts stop working together. That it's so intangible somehow makes it that much more undefinable.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
[The Books of the Dead] A Prelude

Oh, yeah. The vault. That's where the stuff I can't handle goes. Kerplunk! - Finn, Adventure Time

For those of you who have been with me for long enough, you know I have an unsteady relationship with death.  I'm not one of those Witches who can see spirits, talk to ghosts and visualize the other side of the Veil.  Or really visualize very much at all, though that's improved a little over the years.  I tend to "see" things in words, song lyrics, poetry and emotions.  You can imagine how fun this was as a baby Witch where every exercise ever starts with "Visualize . . ."  My sister, the Divine Miss M, who is not a practicing Witch and not really all that Catholic, has a much more open dialogue with the other side than I do and does not spend her dreams with dead people telling them that they're dead like I do.  She catches omens, portents and prophecy at a rate that is completely annoying given that she's not into the occult.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I've read that the dead sometimes visit us in our dreams. If you haven't already got it in your collection of books you might wan

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Honoring Our Ancestors

When we lived in Seattle, we hosted a Halloween/Samhain party each year for both pagans and non-pagans. We invited friends of all ages to join us for pumpkin soup, roasted turnips, hot cider, apple bobbing, and seed bread.  The children were gathered for trick-or-treating (real food before the candy), and after we returned and the kids compared (and sometimes traded) loot, we'd begin the real party, starting with the sliced apple to reveal the star, and tales about the history of Samhain.  At this point, non-pagan families who choose not to share in the divination, speaking with the dead, or honoring them, left.  The rest of us joined in quieter work.

Now that we live in a rural town, people are less inclined to make the long drive for a celebration, but there are some traditions we continue.  The kids still trick-or-treat in the neighborhood, and we still come home to do our good work for the holiday. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tending the Tales of Grief

Every so often, I offer a workshop or discussion on Ancestor veneration. I hadn't done one in several years, but felt the urge to do it this year.  Last night was the chosen evening and we drew in together at Mother Grove's little chapel to talk about the Dead and our Dead.

It was informal--more of a conversation than a class.  I started out with some general information about honoring our Beloved Dead through altars or memorial displays. We went on to discuss the layers of the Dead that we may choose to honor--family and friends who have died,  all those folks we find on Ancestrydotcom and those intentionally selected heroes and inspirations who have no blood or cultural tie to us but who have inspired us through their story.

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  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Beautiful words.

The air is cool, the mists swirl, and the veils are thin…its the time to listen to our Ancestors as we honor our departed ones.

Many seekers of different paths honor the life/death/life process and venerate their Ancestors. Traditionally we honored our Ancestors to maintain familial relationships and heritage and also to learn-divination is performed at Samhaim and during the Day of the Dead so that we might get insight on the year ahead.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
And so it begins

I've written before here about how, in our household, Samhain starts early.  For us it begins at the end of September, during the week when we've repeatedly lost beloved pets and on the day when, two years ago, I pledged my service to the Wild Hunt.  This year, that day was marked with an inadvertent bloodletting when the Hunt, not satisfied with the efforts I had made thus far on their behalf, aided me in slicing open the knuckle of my right index finger almost to the bone with a pair of sewing shears.  (Followed, of course, with a expensive trip to the emergency room and several weeks of limited ability to do anything--including typing and crafting--with that hand.  The Hunt does not play.)  

It continued the following week when I made a trip to one of the city's oldest cemeteries (and bear in mind that here on the west coast, "oldest" means the 1800s, and the most ancient looking monuments, crumbling with apparent age, are not truly ancient at all but merely rain-damaged).  I brought with me home-brewed mead and bone meal, to feed the dead, and locally harvested apples for Sleipnir, Odin's giant eight-legged steed.  (Eight legs, by the way; have you ever thought about that?  Why does He--the horse, that is--have eight legs?  Spiders have eight legs.  So does a casket, when borne aloft by four mourners.  Sleipnir is, indisputably, a horse of death, a steed to carry one to the land of the dead--which, throughout the Norse myths, is exactly what He does.)  I discovered an area devoted to the Civil War dead, which startled me because it seemed the wrong coast for that, but the monument statue of a soldier in uniform and the plots of the military dead exuded an aura of welcome for me, a kinship with the "once human" contingent of the Hunt, with Odin's fallen heroes.  Here was succor and support, and so it was here that I marked the stones with my blood, freshly drawn from my finger (not the one with stitches!) using a lancet.  (The dead were especially interested in and enthusiastic about the mead, by the way!)

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  • Jolene
    Jolene says #
    Another excellent post! I'm looking forward to both our celebrations, and I'm thinking that splitting them up as we have this year
  • Soli
    Soli says #
    I found a small pomegranate at the store this weekend and bought it, so I should do something. Just no idea what. Some of it is be

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Two fascinating insights deepen our understanding of death and Samhain, which honors its sacred dimension.  In one of his essays on nature poet Gary Snyder made a point I have never forgotten. 

An ecosystem is a kind of mandala in which there are multiple relations that are all-powerful and instructive.  Each figure in the mandala – a little mouse or bird (or little god or demon figure) – has an important position and a role to play.  Though ecosystems can be described as hierarchical in terms of energy flow, from the standpoint of the whole all of its members are equal.

   . . . We are all guests at the feast, and we are also the meal!  All of biological nature can be seen as an enormous puja, a ceremony of offering and sharing.

As I was finishing a chapter in my forthcoming book, Faultlines, I encountered a compatible observation by Carl von Essen regarding what he called the “hunter’s trance.”  Von Essen wrote 

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