Experimental Magic: The Evolution of Magic

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Letting go and passing on: what Death teaches us about the mysteries of life

Recently my dad died.

It wasn't unexpected or sudden. 

But just because you expect someone to die doesn't make it any easier I find. The sorrow of losing someone you love and who has a meaningful impact on your life isn't something you can prepare for. Even so, in my spiritual practice, I had already done a vigil for the dying, visualizing myself with him each day, where he was.

And after he died I've done a vigil of the death working to commune with him as he passes on, as I share in this video.

I've also found social media to be an unexpected medium in this ritual of honoring the dead. On his Facebook page, I and my siblings have been posting pictures and memories of our time with him. Writing and reading those memories and looking at those pictures is helping me hold space with the spirit of my father and engage in perhaps the most important thing I can do for him.

Honor him and also let him go. 

The only way I can do that is by being present in my grief for his passing, yet also be present in the joy of the memories and the gratitude I feel for how he's impacted me as a person. 

Doing this work around death right now is as much for me as it is for him. It's finding my place in this world without him, yet also carrying him with me as I go forward. It's letting myself grieve and feel sad with the other people who also have been impacted by him. And its honoring his next journey by letting go instead of trying to hold on.

The mystery of death is that it teaches us what's most important about life: That we appreciate who we have in our lives and that we recognize how they've helped us be who we are, even as we appreciate them for being them. The rituals we engage into recognize death are also designed to help us appreciate life, because you cannot have one without the other. 

Some day I will die. I will leave behind people who will hopefully feel that I've impacted their lives more positively than negatively. Doing this spiritual work around death makes me realize that as I honor my dad I also look toward how I can learn from him and live my life better. Death gives us perspective, makes us realize through the loss of someone just how much our lives have been enriched by that person who passed on. 

What is remembered lives on not merely through the memory of the person but how we take that memory and apply it toward our own lives. May we honor that person in the living of our lives, as we carry that person with us on our journeys.

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magic Systems, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments.


  • Tyger
    Tyger Saturday, 12 January 2019

    My dad and I lived in different countries, so we emailed almost daily and called once a week. After he passed, I missed that connection, so I created an online journal where i write every entry as a letter to my dad. And once a week, I call someone in the family, a cousin or aunt.

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