Monday, March 12, 2012

Honoring the Dead

Some weeks ago, I read a blog about the lack of ancestor reverence in most modern Western religious/spiritual practice.  Most indigenous spiritual practice worldwide honors the dead in some way, but it is considered almost necromantic to do so in Western thought, although that is far from the case in most instances I suspect.  It seems as though the deceased, once so, are forgotten more often than not, and are relegated to remembrance only on anniversaries or birthdays, if even then.  

I decided to change that in my life after finding out through some study that this is a common error in magical practice, for whom of the spirit world would aid a practicing magician more readily than a deceased family member?  On a more practical level, it delighted me to think that dead family members can still be contacted, and that death is not the end by any means.

I'd recently also found out that I had been the victim of a long-standing crossed condition that was based from within a graveyard by an enemy of mine.  It occurred to me that the most effective counter to that sort of energy was energy of the same astral "frequency" range, i.e., graveyard energy, but from the site of someone who "loved me in life".  I hadn't visited my aunt's grave since she had passed on, and had felt badly about that on some level, so why not accomplish two objectives at the same time?

I set out to recover some graveyard dirt from my aunt's grave, but I hadn't done this sort of conjure-style work before and I wanted to do it correctly so as not to disturb or anger the other residents of the graveyard I was about to enter.  Getting on the bad side of the deceased was not a problem I wanted to encounter as I have enough going on already!

After driving for about two hours to her remote burial location in a rural area in Northwestern PA, I finally reached the cemetery where her body had been interred.  On the way there I purchased a small gift to lay at the gravesite - a gift representative of what she was to me in life (an angel), and one that wouldn't offend her Christian sensibilities.  She had been a devout Christian during her life, and I'd attended church with her on more than one occasion, so I wanted to honor that.  I had also ordered a small box to contain her soil upon my altar once I'd procured it.  

Traditionally, practitioners who honor their ancestors have a separate altar for them in their ritual space.  I planned to do something similar eventually, but the area I am using has limited space and I still need to rearrange things there. 

Upon entering the cemetery, I recalled how vodou practitioners will knock at the entry gate three times to alert the dead that they are planning to enter.  There wasn't much of an entry gate at this particular cemetery, so I opted to knock three times upon the ground outside the burial area to announce my entry.  I spoke audibly to the spirits there that my intentions were only to visit my aunt and speak with her, not to disturb them.  After getting the feeling that my intention was acceptable, I entered the graveyard and made my way to my aunt's grave.

My first order of business at the grave site was to meditate upon my aunt's image in my mind to connect with her spirit.  After I felt a connection, I began to audibly speak to her as though she was present although I didn't yet feel her presence, only her attention.  I told her about the things that had been going on in my life since she passed (she had died from a terminal illness at the age of 55).  I also told her about things that were going on in the family, although I suspected that she was aware of most of it already.  Then I got down to the business at hand.

Traditionally in hoodoo, when one wants to procure graveyard dirt it must be "properly bought and paid for".  This is done by scooping out about three handfuls of dirt and placing three pennies in the hole that is left.  I've read that the proper price for graveyard dirt is 1 penny per handful, and that up to 13 handfuls can be removed provided they are paid for with an equal amount of pennies.  Some say that you can pay with a silver dime as an alternative, but since there was no silver in dimes anymore, I used 3 shiny pennies placed heads up into the hole.

All of this was rather uneventful (not that I expected much to occur) up until we started to leave.  I got back into the car after wrapping the soil and saying my goodbyes, and we started driving toward the highway to leave.  All at once, I felt the very strong and loving presence of my aunt within the truck we were riding in.  I'd felt presences before many times, but this one was familiar in a way, almost like I was feeling her ethereal personality around me if that makes sense.

What made it more notable was that once I mentioned the presence I felt, my girlfriend who was sitting in the passenger's seat said she felt the same presence at that same moment.  Then about a minute later, almost as if to confirm the loving presence that we felt, the sky before us opened up a hole in the clouds to let a beautiful sunbeam through, almost directly in front of us in the direction we were heading.  At that moment, I knew my aunt was in heaven looking down on me, and that she would help me with whatever she could.  It was a surreal experience to say the least.  Other "strange and surreal" things occurred of a more private nature that I may write about in the future.

Once I got the soil home, I performed a small ceremony to welcome her presence to dwell in my home in my sacred space, by using only a small dressed votive candle and a prayer.  I wanted to consecrate the box for her soil, and to harmonize her energies with the preexisting energies of the altar (and my home) so that there would be no conflict.  My objective was to be able to contact her whenever I needed to talk to her about things by using the graveyard dirt as a link.  I feel I was successful in that.

Since then, I've felt more protected than I had been feeling.  Whatever negative graveyard energies were being directed my way now had formidable opposition from a blood relative within that same current.  I don't feel as though I could have asked for better help.

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