Sunday 24 October 2010

Virtual Day Of The Dead

Trinity Church offer a virtual Day of the Dead Altar on Facebook

Upload a photo to this event wall of someone you want remembered on The Day of the Dead!

This year, Trinity Wall Street is creating a Day of the Dead Virtual altar where you may place a remembrance of someone in your life who has died.

TO PARTICIPATE simply upload your digital photos, mementos and keepsakes to the event wall. Each day, the images will be collected and on Friday, October 29th, you can see your images on the Day of the Dead Virtual Altar at

Also, beginning October 29th, TWEET #TWSdayofthedead and your thoughts, prayers or meditations will scroll on a live Twitter feed adjacent to the virtual altar.

I don’t suppose our Beloved Dead spend too long worrying about who’s commemorating them, remembrance has been used by many cultures to honour and in some sense to give meaning to the lives of our dead. Whether we become Pagan Ancestors or live in the ancient Greek Underworld, whether we remember our dead so that they can move more quickly towards their heaven or if we go into burial mounds to bring out the bones of our dead at certain times, remembrance seems to be hard-wired into us.

Trinity’s virtual remembrance pages aren’t the first, but they are accessible to all. I found it moving to scroll down so many pictures of Beloved Dead.

What Is Remembered, Lives.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

When Your Family Can't Cope With Your Diagnosis

 One reason why your family might not be able to "be there" if you are faced with a terminal illness may have to do with how resilient they are. Their reticence does not mean that they do not care; rather, it reflects their (often unconscious) attitudes about life and about crises. That said, the good news is that people can move from being psychologically fragile toward being psychologically resilient.

Thanks to Megory Anderson at Sacred Dying Foundation for this.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Support McCollum Again!

His quest for equal rights for Pagans in [McCollum's} federal court case involving prison chaplaincy and the California Department of Corrections has moved to a new phase. Furthermore, Lady Liberty League has received reports that in addition to Patrick being denied access to do Pagan ministry support for certain inmates, Pagan ministers from other traditions and organizations are also being denied.

It's so tedious. The most powerful nation in the world (so far) is a theocracy. Feh.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Watching The Creation Of An Ancestor

I’ve just come from sitting vigil with a dying neighbour and her family, staying with her body until the undertakers came, remaining with the family for a little while then coming downstairs into my own flat. The nights have closed in and I feel securely surrounded by the lives above me, around me, all of us doing our living and dying, childrearing, grieving, enforced rites of passage and unconscious day to day existing. I wasn’t with this family as a priestess or Pagan but as a neighbour who came to see how Maria was doing. We all knew she was dying but I arrived at the point where dying became death and was priviledged to be welcomed by her family into that intense process.

What a lot of death there’s been in the last few weeks. Of course, death occurs at every moment but lately I’ve been surrounded by a more than usual number. There’s a feeling of skill and accomplishment  in not being confused, frightened or thrown off balance when confronted with the absolute facts of death; remaining grounded and present creates a particular atmosphere, whether one is robed and formal or in houseworking clothes, not least that the family doesn’t have to be concerned about someone wobbling around while they’re absorbing devastation.

I was going to post the following closer to Samhain but it feels appropriate to do it tonight. Back in 1997 when I ran the Pagan Hospice and Funeral Trust Caitlin Matthews, one of the Trustees, wrote liturgy for what we hoped would become a regular event, Ancestral Remembrance Day. I came across the old papers for the event and found them still relevant. These words later entered Caitlins book, A Celtic Devotional.

Viajan bien, Maria.

Ancestral Remembrance Day
Caitlin Matthews

This format is a suggested one only: it includes ourselves as well as our ancestors an offers opportunities to clear away what is outworn in order that the renewing tide can recycle all burdens that are clogging up our lives. Please use what you will of it, adding or changing details for your personal need and circumstances. The wording has been purposefully planned to be inclusive of all spiritual traditions. You can use this format as a personal celebration or can adapt it for small group celebration, according to need.

You may wish to set up a simple shrine. This might consist of photographs of dead family and friends, some flowers or a plant, a candle or objects from the natural world that feel ancestral to you. Our prayers and ritual patterns need not be formal. Remember your ancestors as human beings, speak to them the way you would if they stood in the room with you now. The most important thing is that we bring love and perhaps forgiveness. Forgiveness is a releasing and letting go from binding ties of fear, anger, frustration and jealousy: allowing such emotions to freely go, we simultaneously release our ancestors and ourselves from complex ancestral bequests which, without forgiveness, tend to cascade from generation to generation.

Finding new ways of celebrating and honouring our ancestors is a challenge but the rewards of such remembrance are far-encompassing. Think of ways in which you can publicly mark your own ancestors: tending family graves and decorating them at Samhain, marking and hanging wreaths on your own trees and bushes in the garden, setting up a votive light in a window, organising small gatherings among neighbours and friends, are a few of the ways we can bring our public spiritual and ancestral celebrations to a wider and more public forum.

Remember, we will be the ancestors to our decendants. Whatever patterns we lay down now will help change attitudes to death and bring the ancestors back to our communities in warming and loving ways.

I am the hallow-tide of all souls passing
I am the bright releaser of all pain
I am the quickener of the fallen seed case
I am the glance of snow, the strike of rain.
I am the hollow of the winter twilight
I am the hearth-fire and the welcome bread
I am the curtained awning of the pillow
I am unending wisdoms golden thread

Weaver of Life, Reciever of Death, you teach us time and eternity and the blessings of change. In the silence of our meeting reveal to me how I also need to change. Sacred silence. Your merciful compassion is my guide.

I remember all in the realms of light, the dear ones and Holy Ones whose vocation is a template for my own, whose life-ways have opened my own pathway especially. May they enjoy concord, joy and felicity.

As the year falls into darkness I ask my souls’ teacher to help me recognise what is finished, not to manipulate the powers of life and death to keep alive what is really worn out this year. I relinquish the fear and pride which may have restricted the flow of universal vitality into my life. May all the worn out things that I have harboured find their true rest and eternal home.

Wise Men, Wise Women, Holy Ones of all generations, I call to you to send a blessing upon all who are stuck in the past and walk the spirals of an in-turning maze: may your wisdom lead them by fresh and fruitful pathways to the blessing of the present moment. Please show to me the ancestral patterns which I inherit, the pathways of the maze which I sometimes tread myself. Help me to be aware that these pathways are not my own patterns, that I have my own way to walk.

I give thanks for the golden links of lore that our ancestors remembered and which spill into our hands: for the treasures of tradition, for the rich heritage of wisdom, for the ancestral experience which I inherit in every cell of my body.

Glad Giver, True Taker, as the raven stoops upon decay and cleanses the earth, so also do you take to yourself all scattered beings, keeping safe their souls. In the mercy of your silence I stand between life and death. May the life-blood in my veins bring me to perfect mindfulness of my souls purpose.

Into the hands of the Grandparents of Life and Death I commit the souls of all who have passed from this life. I remember my own dear ones. May they find peace, clarity and restoration.

I consider the moment of my own death: may I be well prepared and worthy to enter the Land of the Living. May my life be lived with virtue and integrity, may my soul friends help me prepare for my death, however unlikely it now seems, that my dear ones are not weighted down with cares and responsibilities that I could have spared them. I make frank appraisal of the things which I have left undone which must be completed before I die. I consider also the legacy of wisdom I bequeath to my decendents.

Glad Giver, True Taker, you hold the threads of life within your hands; both the greatest and the smallest creature is in your care; as I enter the cave of your silence I am remade, as the day is reborn of the night.

I light this candle to shine as a beacon for those who go homewards to their death.
May all who have died without anyone to mourne them or bid them farewell
be blessed and released from their wanderings.
May Holy Ones and Wise Ones from the realms of peace guide all wandering souls to their true abode.
May all who have died violently and without opportunity to prepare their passing
be peaceful and enter into the treasury of souls.

I raise this light for all who fear death.
May they learn that the dark is no darkness at all, that the end of this life is but the beginning of another way of living.
The blessing of love, light and life
Be upon the ancestors
Now and forever.