Reverence for the Beloved Dead

That day my mother-in-law died, three things happened in rapid succession before I was truly awake.

The phone rang, bringing the news of her death. I held my partner for a good long minute. And then, without pausing, I began to tend to her spirit.

I should be clear that her death was not a surprise. She had been in hospice care for a month at that point and we had received news days prior that the end was near. We had both been holding her in our thoughts and in our hearts.

While I had made no plans, love and intuition guided me. First, I knelt before our main altar. Taking up the blade that lies there, I carved her name on the top of our pillar Ancestor candle. I moved next to my Hermes altar. I placed a second candle there and lit it, singing softly to Hermes Psychopomp. I ended with a whispered prayer for him to guide her safely on her way. Turning, I lit the candle on our ancestor altar. Again, I sang, this time to our beloved dead, asking them to make her welcome on their side of the veil. I finished by returning to our main altar, where I lit the candle with her name on it. I sang “Let the Way Be Open” (Sing with my voice, play with my hands, let the way be open) three times through, envisioning a door of light for her to pass easily through. By these acts of reverence, I hoped to pay homage to her spirit and honor and comfort her descendants.

How do you honor your beloved dead?

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About Melissa ra Karit

I'm a queer, poly, genderqueer Witch. I'm a sex-positive feminist, an activist, and a writer. I believe that when we attend to our individual good, we approach the world with good in our hearts and change the world for the better. Opinions expressed here are solely my personal opinions, and do not represent the views of any organization with which I am affiliated.
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