In just over a months time, the Darker Days will close and new things will emerge along with the daffodils and wattle blossoms. Since Hallowmas, I’ve been taking advantage of the season and working closely with my Beloved Dead.
Work with my more immediate ancestors, particularly those I knew in life, forms part of the bedrock of my practice. Nature is ancient, but it is also vast. Entering into it can result in a sense of removal from one’s “mundane” life. Ancestor worship, that is participation with the Beloved Dead as opposed to the Mighty Dead, like Disír or Mighty Foremother Spirits, serves as an anchor. You are the potential and promise of their lineage, they are deeply invested in your material, physical and emotional well-being. They are the pointy end of a great thread that connects us all to the Mightiest of Ancestors, but when it comes to you, your children, your health, your job, it is usually these individuals who are our best allies. As spirits go, your Grandmother or Grandfather is the sort of spirit who has probably few others they’re keeping an eye on. They therefore remind us that what we might think of as mundane is also actually really important, we are each a unique manifestation of multiple threads of power converging, and they are literally right behind us, cheering us on. Their life experiences, good and bad, which we have the pleasure to be more familiar with by virtue of their connection with us, very often in life, is a store house of wisdom we can, and should draw from.
At Hallowmas, all my divination tools are re-dedicated to my foremothers, each of whom has a preferred method. I like to sit and read the Tarot, oracle cards, with multiple cups of tea poured out, just the way they like them. We are also very lucky in my family to have always had a very present and strong Warden, each individual of my immediate family having direct experiences of him multiple times. His warnings come complete with times of day, exact intersections and the make, model and colour of the car that will speed through that red light as you blankly look on, completely frozen, and having a mild religious experience.
And it’s precisely because of these things, I spend many a Winter’s night meditating with, offering to, making for, and divining with my Beloved Dead.
I’m quite a long way from the graves of my family, but I am lucky enough to have grave dirt from four individuals interred in my home town in NSW with me. I found some small jars and began researching various methods and ingredients for creating Ancestor Spirit Vessels. I didn’t have to look very hard. Sarah Anne Lawless, who’s work is divine, has a wonderful post dedicated to just that.
Lawless’ instructions could not be easier, and her examples could not be more beautiful. If you draw inspiration from anyone, then you should have Lawless’ website bookmarked. I have heard rumour that getting some of her wares into Australia can be a bit difficult, unfortunately. On the upside, inspiration is free, and her website is overflowing with both that, and useful directions, rituals and how-tos.
I was working with only a small amount of grave dirt, and so I chose miniature, up-cycled class jars. Working as I was with my own ancestors, my inclusions were less uniform, personal, and tailored to each individual. The making itself was simple, and a joy, and nothing is as pleasing as creating a powerful, and beautiful item for the Spirits we work with.
And now is certainly the time to be up before dawn and creating in honour of those who watch over us, and who are among our best and most dedicated Spirit Helpers.
P.S. ‘N’ is for “Night-time Proclivities”. This post participates with the Pagan Blog Project 2014.