Remember The Dead

Myrrh Gum Burning

Myrrh Gum Burning. Myrrh is often used in Underworld workings for the blessed dead.

Many in the Neopagan and Witchcraft communities state that at this season, as Samhain approaches, the veil between the worlds is becoming thin. Personally, I have a difficult time with that concept seeing as the veil tends to be continuously in motion around me. Basically, I think no veil exists. If it did, communing with my spirits would be a difficult thing.

What Veil? 
I think a lot of people would agree with me on this. There has been an objection raised that what is meant by the term “thinning of the veil” is that even people who are not involved in the Neopagan and Witchcraft communities can sense there is something “else” in the air. I still don’t know about that. Roman Catholics have their sacred days at the end of October and the beginning of November. Many Christians have Harvest Festivals. Mexican-Americans and other Hispanics such as Bolivians have their Day of the Dead. I guess it seems like everyone has something about the Otherworld to celebrate; to bring the ancestors close to us. I just find it funny since, as a Hellenist as well, the dead aren’t necessarily celebrated right now. So it’s a cultural thing methinks. Besides, technically Samhain is a Celtic holiday which made its way into Wicca. Since Wicca is not a Celtic path, there is room to mix and match here. Anyway, the main thesis of this post is not to downgrade the season. Rather, it’s about to emphasize something important: veneration of the dead.

I once wrote that if my family got together and spoke to me once a year and walked away thinking I’m all better for it, they better think again. How do your ancestors feel? Samhain/Shadowfest/Feast of the Dead shouldn’t be the only time we commune with our beloved Dead. They have a right to commune with you, to be fed and honored.

A Part Of Us
Ancestral veneration seems to be in inherent part of humanity. We don’t just have special days designated for them, but we also instinctively seem to want to do it. As an example, when loved ones pass away, some folks build a small “shrine” with photos and mementos where they can be seen. People will toast to their memory on their birthdays. They’ll say “They were here today watching over you,” or even “So-and-so is an angel now.” None of this involves magickal rituals, just remembrance. For a particular person who might have had an extraordinary life or tragic death, a non-profit might be named in their honor to raise awareness of something dear to them. For major celebrity figures, a statue might be erected, or their home might have flowers, cards, alcohol, and other memorabilia stacked. This happened when Princess Diana passed away. Another celebrity was Harry Caray, a sportscaster who was known very well for his undying support of the Chicago Cubs. He once said, “Sure as God made green apples, someday, the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series.” As the Chicago Cubs entered the Play-Offs in 2016, people began putting green apples on the statue of Harry Caray, hoping it would bring “luck.” Something must have worked, because that was the year the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

The Holy Days of Memory
The capability of the imagination and its link to Memory is something powerful. We build egregores and monuments. We light birthday candles sometimes or say, “Happy birthday Grandpa.” All of these are instinctual actions that help us venerate the dead, and we shouldn’t limit it to once per year. They need to be honored and fed. We need to talk to them. We need to celebrate their achievements. Why? Because when you honor them, you are honoring yourself. You are a part of a remarkable lineage of people who survived so much to be here: war, famine, plague, slavery, persecution, poverty, rebellion, and so much more. You have a lot to offer this world. Your ancestors made sure that they survived so you can be here. There is something inherently spiritual about that.

Memory is very tangible. It was so important to be remembered that many folks in the ancient world adopted others into their family if they had no children just to be remembered. Memory is what keeps us alive. We become part of the stream of consciousness that, like a river, is ongoing in the subconscious of our human race.

Before the Gods
I think Samhain and other holy days set aside for the dead should be simply when an entire community of strangers come together to honor everyone. I know that this is the definition of Samhain for many (a DUH from some), but you’d honestly be surprised how many forget about the ancestral dead after Samhain.

I was taught by Hekate to honor the ancestors in ritual before honoring the Gods, because it was the ancestors to whom knowledge of the Gods was discovered and to whom the sacred lore was passed down to. In turn they passed it down to the next generation, and they in turn to the next, etc. In addition, the ancestors are the closest thing to us who understand our trials and tribulations. While I honor the Gods, I also honor the ancestors. I pray to them constantly because they know my plights more than the Gods. The Gods, being Gods, might not sympathize with humanity as much. They have their own time table. They may not understand why we need that donation, or that paycheck. They may not understand how we need to cry and release our depression. Gods tend to separate from humans because of pollution (miasma) until we are purified again. But the ancestors? Being human spirits, they know what it is to be stuck in the metaphorical mud (sometimes literal). They know our suffering and desperation.

Remember: Honor your past so that your present has meaning and your future is blessed.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)


Stars Clothed in Flesh

Orpheus (1896) by John Macallan Swan

Orpheus (1896) by John Macallan Swan

Our traditions may have been broken, but our Visions are renewed.

Our ways may have become historically lost, but our Memory is strong.

Our customs may have become nearly eradicated, but our Spirit is eternal.

Our languages may have become dead, but our Tongue can still speak the Sacred Names.

Polytheism is not just a return to plurality. It is not limited to reconstructionism, revivalism, or solitary devotees of any path. It is a word which encapsulates the responsibility and obligations with which our Elders are returning from their home in the stars to come down in flesh and bring back the worship and cultus of the Old Gods and Heroes. Many years ago as I sat in contemplation, I was granted a Vision by my Queen, Hekate, as She began to open the Gate of Souls and allowed the Souls of Old to come and walk among us again.

Yes, we Europeans, North Africans and Middle Easterners have our own Elders, our own Ways, our own Tribes, Temples, Gods and spirits that we once served. And with the Old Ones crying out for Their sacred fires to be lit once more, we have mistaken many times that the Gods and spirits call whom They will. Perhaps They do…but I’d like to think that They touch the ones who knew Them, who adored Them of Old, and who were teachers, priests, iatromantoi, magoi, strixoi, backkhai and more.

What does this mean for us? For you?

It means that you have the Power of Memory. Memory is palpable, tangible. Memory is your lifeline to the Gods and Spirits. Memory becomes manifest in your rites and cultus. Memory is what you carry deep within the constellation of your soul, proof that you have tasted the Well of Memory. But you thought you would stay among the Stars forever? You thought you would remain in eternal joy with nectar and ambrosia?

No, my friend, my brother, my sister, myself.

You must return. You must come back, because we need you. We need our Elders to teach the young of the world again. We need our stars to be clothed in flesh, to remind us of the Once Ways in which we walked one with our Gods of place and temple. Because our Gods need us, though They exist beyond our own confines or imagination. They exist, yet Their Fates are tied to the world in which we exist. And so it is that as the world needs us, it is our Gods who need us too. We cannot exist one without the Other. This is the Law of Ma’at, of Themis, of the Pax Deorum. This is the Sacred Exchange between the Golden Deathless Ones and the mortal world. This is the sustenance which drives all of our known existence within our purview to continue as we know it.

The Elders are returning. They are becoming reborn and walking among us, forged in the fires of trauma and pain so that They might have the mettle and fortitude to go past their ordeals to rise and fight for the preservation of our Ancient Ways. They are here to remind us of the paths we once knew, of the glades we once worshipped and frolicked, of the spirits whom we once touched.

And it might be you. Welcome back.

Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)