Death Rosary

Etsy Shop: TheWytchoftheNorth

[I’m currently having size issues with inserting a photograph, so I may edit this post later or share pictures separately. I don’t think anyone wants a picture to take up the whole screen right now.]

I was notified that the item was shipped on 9.6.16 and it arrived that Friday (9.9.16). I’ve previously ordered items while on campus, so having a few days instead of a week or so was amazing on the shipping. No damage of any kind while shipping and a sample of tea was included (Relaxed Mind from Yogi).

I’ve previously ordered existing items from Beth, but this time I commissioned an item. My Christian dead wanted a rosary on the ancestral shrine (they’re vocally Catholic), and my bio dead were pushing for some interaction with St. Brigid and St. Patrick. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t able to find existing rosaries that were connected to the P/people involved. I know Beth can forge that connection (it can break through my headblindness), I was able to involve both saints (Hela also tagged along), and I had say in the design and materials (the comfortable fit of simplicity). Beth was polite, prompt about replying, and was a pleasure to work with in picking said materials and design.

There’s been a noticeable time lapse in receiving the item and posting this review (written on 10.30.16, scheduled for 11.2.16). It’s been a combination of letting my P/people settle into the rosary on the ancestral shrine and not interacting with it while in a depressive episode. Since my order arrived, there’s been some changes in Beth’s Etsy presence (including a second shop, The Candle Invasion), but I’d still recommend her shop.

Final Decision: O – Outstanding

Would I buy from this shop again? While I currently don’t have plans to do so in the recent future (money and irl matters), I would consider buying another item from this shop.

Awaken the Irish

I’ve been working on the show, Dancing at Lughnasa, that our company purposefully planned to coincide with the Dublin Irish Festival (Dublin, Ohio). The week fell so that La Lúnasa itself was Monday and the Irish Festival was that weekend.

I had some Irish People pass through, but I think it was more a matter of Lughnasa energy coalescing, if that makes sense. They’re welcome to stop by again, but apparently, I’m a shade off being compatible with Them for long-term sticking around.

The main thing that this has done is awaken my Irish dead. Due to call times and the actual run of the four shows we had that happened over the festival, I didn’t get a chance to walk around and see anything until Sunday (people had thinned out, so it wasn’t bad). It was the experience itself that they liked.

I visited the weaving tent, which took you through the whole process from spinning to all the work at the loom, and I could hear some of the harp from the next tent over. I didn’t bother picking up an actual map of the grounds, so I enjoyed happening upon the wake house. I took a copy of the basic info paper, which I’m thinking might get tucked somewhere on the shrine for a while.

You didn’t even have to be at the actual stage or tent to hear the bands / singers, and I didn’t even spend all the money I had allotted for picking up something. I know how yearly festivals work, and I knew going in that I had to stick to X amount of cash. I was debating between a t-shirt and getting some form of jewelry (wristbands, earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, etc.), but I hadn’t really gone in with a definite idea of what I might want. I wound up getting a Claddagh ring and didn’t have quite enough to get a t-shirt as well, so I called it good on spending money.

A fair amount of blessings and sayings were passed around, particularly during some presentations, but there was something about the one that the man at that jewelry section used that stuck.

  • May you be buried in a coffin from a 100 year old oak tree that I’ll be planting tomorrow. – From the weaver.
  • You can’t start a tradition, and you can’t stop one. – The wake presenter, specifically talking about how priests couldn’t end the party aspect when they got back to being legally around.
  • Wear it in good health. – Jewelry guy.

(This post will obviously have been queued up after the festival has ended, and it will also be after the show closes.)

Christian Dead

After my bio dead wanted to just slide back into my group of Christian dead, I haven’t really heard from them outside of Christian requests. While the people I knew in my life were mostly Protestant, my dead are more vocally Catholic (I know my dad’s side is more Catholic, but I imagine it has to do with how far back this group probably stretches).

Church. I’ve read in more than a few places that Christian dead have asked for a living relative to go to a church service. Because they’re majority Catholic, I’ve been asked to go to Mass. I’ve had some chats with them about this, and it’s currently on the backburner (a very soft request, or low priority). My immediate family isn’t Catholic, and it’s actually a bit of a drive to the closest Catholic church (over at least one town). Perhaps at a later point, and I definitely don’t see myself being a once a week regular.

Saints. The cohesive request was that I intercede a saint, at one point. For a while, that was St. Dymphna, and they were okay with a brief shadow work lesson I had with Raphael (St. Raphael, as they called Him). Since then, they haven’t been able to agree with enough of a majority on one particular saint.

Prayer beads. There were enough beads that I could say the rosary (needed for the elevations I posted earlier about doing), but I actually haven’t used a real one. I don’t know if there was some coincidental keeping the pagan separate from the Christian, but providing that everyone could agree on one and I could afford, I’ve let them know that I’m not opposed to putting a real rosary on the shrine.

Shrine. Things have shifted around and been removed, as shrines do, but one of the constants for them has been a Bible. It’s kind of nice looking, so I thought they’d like it (it was a high school graduation gift, so I had to do something with it). Most people wouldn’t immediately recognize it, though, because I have it wrapped in a towel that shows the map of Scotland (something a family member did own, and a way to nod to the Scottish heritage).

Memziri and the Jotnar

Initially I improvised a space for the Jotnar on Fire Howling.

Then I switched things up and wound up with something for my Jotnar dead. I usually just refer to them as Jotnar, but it’s a squishy line between Jotnar, Ancient ancestors, and other things related to manifesting in Midgard.

A stuffed cow that I saved from childhood (imaginatively named Cow). Elemental and Midgard associations. The radio pendant to help keep me here in Midgard. A sand art dinosaur made in my youth.

Out of time

Wytch of the North

Knitting takes me out of time. Sitting outside yesterday, in the sunlight, listening to the wind in the trees, watching Corbie puppy-out after bees and flies, I could have been anyone, anywhere (read: at least since the advent of knitting). If I ignored the house with its humming electricity at my back, and the cars on the road, and the planes overhead, I could have been anyone, anywhere. It’s a small step to the side to then, through this craft, reach out and touch my ancestors. It ceases to be about knitting specifically and begins to be about textiles in general, and there is something we all have in common: making portable shelter. Taking some raw material (in this case, essentially thread) and creating something that wasn’t there before.

Jo has summarized very eloquently here part of the appeal spinning holds for me: its timelessness.  Spinning takes me out of…

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Ancestral Representatives

So, my bio dead stepped back into my Christian dead (and they eventually put on a more cohesively Catholic front) after I did elevations for everyone I knew of. After Hela and Jormundgand prodding me in the direction of honoring the trans dead, I stopped fighting that I was trans and paid some attention to them.

Up until winter 2015, these were my only two groups of dead I knew of and knew I was interacting with. Because there are a lot of people in each of these groups and I was getting contradictory divination readings, I asked if I could only communicate directly with a Representative of each group.

I eventually asked for some sort of name and desired pronouns for the Representatives. It felt a little more personal, in a way. David represents my Christian dead (he / him), and Adam represents my trans dead (they / their). One of the new groups of dead is represented by Memziri (meh-m  z-eerie) who uses he / his pronouns.

Memziri may also appear as Mimzy. He literally used Mimzy imagery to get the name across because those sounds don’t really exist in other words together. Y’know, the rabbit from The Last Mimzy. There’s something with rabbit imagery where my People just spam it occasionally, but I’m pretty sure Mimzy isn’t actually rabbit identified. He feels old, like before the Jotnar and Vanir split old.

Elevatin’ Lent

From Toxic Ancestors (links to full piece, not the WP post):

My paternal grandfather, F, was physically abusive to both his wife and son and had a few vices. While he was alive, alcohol was an influencing factor in his abuse, and he was particularly fond of using a belt on his son.

J, the father of my maternal grandmother, was sexually abusive to some of his daughters, who are all currently still alive. Alcohol was an influencing factor in his abuse as well. G, the mother of my maternal grandfather, was emotionally abusive.

Her abuse stemmed from her personality, so she will always have a certain amount of toxicity, though it is possible for me to reduce her amount. With enough time, it is possible for me to remove all of F and J’s toxicity.

Why I chose to interact with these toxic ancestors:

I chose to ignore F when dealing with my paternal line initially. He died before I was old enough to form memories, so I felt no desire to interact with him until I faced a situation in which I was reminded of my paternal grandmother. In her words, she “isn’t a spring chicken anymore”, and I had to contemplate the matter of her meeting F in whichever afterlife is applicable.

I decided that I would interact with him in order to reduce his toxicity and hopefully make it easier for his victims when they pass (if they run into him). I’ve taken this stance with each of the three toxic ancestors I know of, within the past few generations with living family members who talk about them, but that doesn’t mean that anyone else has to.

I also generally covered how I approached doing elevations for all three of them, and I’m certainly not saying that others have to use the same methods. I returned to the idea that working with ancestors is personalized in the piece, and this is one of those areas where it just depends on what will help the toxic ancestor the most [edited below for ease of reading from piece]:

All three of these ancestors were Christian with F specifically being Catholic. This meant that I needed to use a Christian framework – including Jesus and God in the requests for toxicity being removed, including a request to the Saint F was closest to, and not including any Deities outside of the Christian God.

I also needed to include the praying of the rosary. They each had a particular day of the week they wanted me to start on, and I prayed the Mysteries of the day for a week. At their request, all of the elevations were to take part during Lent with specifically tailored requests for helping them all to be said on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

I gave up desserts and also didn’t eat meat (other than certain fish / seafood dishes) on Fridays for the duration of Lent. In addition to having specific prayers for reducing these ancestors’ toxicity, I also did a general elevation for all of my other known ancestors during the rest of Lent.

Toxic Ancestors

Writing and Religion (Or I’m not an academic for a reason) – I tried to write an academic piece for Walking the Worlds (a biannual journal of polytheism and spirit-work), and I found out that it’s not easy. This portion looks at my take away from the experience, particularly that I haven’t actually been prepared for this style of writing (I’ve only ever once before had to write an abstract, and it was for a science paper).

Writing and Religion II (I tried) – I apologize in advance for my formatting mistakes. I wasn’t going to share my piece until Someone reminded me that journals are associated with exclusivity for a reason. For this journal, you have to be a contributor or pay money in order to acquire a copy, so in the interest of reaching a wider audience, I shared the piece.

Note: This was written in October of 2014, which was before I dropped the asterisk (*) from ‘trans’, so this will be seen in this (it was shared as it was submitted).

Abstract shared here, and the rest can be read here (it’s free; just behind a cut due to length).

Toxicity isn’t necessarily meant to judge the dead, but is used here to identify and describe qualities, behaviors, and/or energy from the dead that are negative. This negativity can influence whether a living descendant wishes to interact with the ancestor, so toxicity can be a block between someone wishing to interact with or honor their ancestors and their ancestors themselves. A breakdown of the types of toxicity will be proposed along with the responses that a descendant may choose from in response to the toxicity of their ancestor(s). In order to help clarify the choices of responses, a more in-depth example will be given at the end.

Weaving Memory (Review)

I bought the e-book of Weaving Memory: A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors by Laura Patsouris through Asphodel Press in late 2012 or early 2013. By opting for the pdf instead of the paperback, I didn’t have to wait for shipping and paid less than $10 ($5 + Tax).

. . .

The first section is The Dead. It covers why someone might want to do ancestor work, the basics of a shrine and the variety possible, honoring your maternal (Disir) and paternal ancestors (Alfar), communication, and toxic ancestors.

I don’t necessarily agree that an ancestral practice is the foundation of or essential for a strong faith because there are people who have strong practices without interacting with their ancestors. Some people also do run into issues with trying to honor their dead in a different religious framework than the ancestor in question, but in terms of basics, I think it was helpful.

At the time of purchasing this book, I found the chapter on toxic ancestors and steps that can be taken most helpful. Ignoring them is a valid choice, but doing elevations is another option. The advice about having an intermediary in the chapter on communication has become more helpful as I’ve gone on. I may not be getting bombarded with emotional, auditory, or visual messages, but I did get conflicting divination readings for a while because everyone was trying to give their personal opinions.

The second section is The Working. It covers possible magical / spiritual assistance (varies on your dead, but assistance with protection and warding can be possible), the wide variety of offerings for your dead, tapping into your ancestors’ strength, how to ask for ancestral vengeance on someone, keeping your dead happy, an example ritual for starting out, dying family members (ancestors-to-be) and grieving, ancestral memories, the angry / restless dead, passing an ancestral practice on to children, and honoring community ancestors.

The final section is Other Voices, which features pieces from other people. This includes Raven Kaldera (honoring the trans dead), Galina Krasskova (Living and Dying and how honoring our ancestors is one step in rebuilding Pagan traditions) and Llyne Foy (her first encounter with her dead).

There was a moment or two where word choice was personally grating, but it came back to how I don’t think an ancestral practice is required for everyone. Sometimes, your bio dead aren’t interested, no one steps forward from past generations, religious differences do matter to some dead, or a community doesn’t want you to focus on them. Some people only experience parts of this, and it may be related to what S/someone tells them to do (or not to do). We aren’t all called to be ancestor workers and to do everything on the path of honoring ancestors.

Overall, I think there’s enough of a balance of beginner material and “201” material that you don’t have to be a complete beginner to get something useful out of this book. Some may not find the Heathen (or related Norse traditions) concepts and examples as helpful, but Patsouris did include examples taking into account her Afro-Cuban heritage, so it wasn’t entirely Heathen focused. Most of the book seems like it could be useful for anyone on any path, since an ancestral practice isn’t limited to one tradition.

Final Decision: A – Acceptable

First steps with my ancestors

I didn’t start off honoring my ancestors alongside my People, so I honestly have no problem with other people not wanting to do anything with an ancestral practice. It isn’t required for everyone. However, I couldn’t really keep avoiding Hela’s request to honor my dead when it was the only thing She wanted me to do in the beginning.

I started out with biological family members I knew of, and I purposely avoid contact with three of them (due to toxicity). Because I already had a set of prayer beads with a certain count, I came up with a prayer set to acknowledge my ancestors. I could name those I knew, touch on professions (teacher, farmer, coal miner, etc.), and include nods to heritage (German, Irish, Scottish, and English as far as I know).

It wasn’t all that bad to start off building a line of connection with them, but I eventually felt stuck in a rut. I got Weaving Memory: A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors by Laura Patsouris, mulled over my toxic ancestors, and did elevations for everyone. After that my bio dead stepped back into the throng of my Christian dead and haven’t really wanted to interact directly since.