Honoring the Beloved Dead

The Ancestors. The Beloved Dead. The Wise Crone. They are here, among us. Each of them passing along wisdom hard won. It is in our bones. In our very DNA. As the veil thins, we honor them. Those who have gone before us.

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Have you felt them?

Samhain isn’t just a single day. The Season of the Witch begins, for me, at sundown on the Autumn Equinox. It lasts up until Winter Solstice. So I have been feeling the energies for weeks now. You know the energy I mean, the kind that when you walk into a room there is a familiar scent that was worn by your Beloved Grandmother. Or when you sense someone standing behind you. Yet, visually, you’re alone. A Witch knows the signs, scents, and energy that means there is a presence with them.

It is wise to put some protections in place. After all, you don’t want just any spirit waltzing through like they own the place. Honoring the spirits of place, those that have dwelled on the land for longer than your lineage has existed, goes a long way to protecting you and yours.

Just as with any entity you wish to connect with, building a relationship with the spirits of the land is important. Find out what they like (most will accept sweets, alcohol, or grains) and make sure you make your offerings on a regular basis! To neglect them unless it’s this time of year, or it’s beneficial to you, is folly. They are truly your first line of defense. They exist even on the outside of any property wards you may have set.

What to do if something enters that isn’t welcome

It’s simple, if somehow there is something that enters your home through a weakened ward, light up some banishing incense and tell it to leave. It really is that simple. Checking your wards twice a month can eliminate this minor inconvenience.

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Who are our Beloved Dead?

As Witches, our Beloved Dead may not be the same as the dead of our Ancestral Blood. They may be the Witches that paved the way for us. Musicians and poets who are long gone but have touched our souls in some way. Remember, this is Witchery and the path we walk is our own.

One such Witch that I honor is Madam Helena Blavatsky. A Russian Spiritualist that was born on the same day as I, but 142 years before I was reborn to the world. If you haven’t read anything of her, you should! She is fascinating, IMHO. For you, it may be Doreen Valiente, or Mary Shelley, or any number of others.

Familial ties can be tricky for some of us. My grandmother was a saint of a woman and she always has a special place with me. Placing trinkets or pictures onto an altar reminds that some of our dearly departed went above and beyond. We remember. Veneration is a large part of our Samhain activities.

Image by Cotton Bro

The tools we use

Anything can become an instrument of ritual. It is all in the intent! A big one this time of year is Graveyard Dirt. Knowing how to properly collect it is important. If you have ancestors buried nearby, that’s where I would start. Bring 2 coins and leave them at the entrance. That’s to pay the Ferryman. Having an offering for the dead is also important. If there was a particular…spirit they enjoyed, that would be acceptable. Or a pinch of pipe tobacco. Confections may have been more their thing. So talk to family about them.

If you’re collecting from an unknown grave, vodka or whiskey seems to be the most asked for.

Don’t just walk to the grave, collect the dirt, and turn around and leave. Remember what I said about our land spirits? Build a relationship. It will serve you much better in your final outcomes.

On Samhain, sit in quiet contemplation for a while

Your Witchery will be stronger for it. Listen to the messages of the dead. Take a bit of time to speak with them. Even if they don’t speak back, they’re listening. They’re working out what your intent may be in contacting them. Eventually, they will speak back. As long as you’re working from your heart and not your ego. The Dead will speak.

Darkest Blessings on this Samhain Eve,
Ivy (and Kaycee)

Kaycee wrote a lovely ritual for us – The Dead Speak. Be sure to check it out!

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