Tending the Dead

One of the most important things we can do in these difficult times is to Tend the Dead. I’ve developed a series of ceremonies spanning several days, beginning with Samhain and continuing for several days thereafter, to honor the spirits of the Dead.

Especially with all the lives lost through floods, famine, war, and other natural disasters over the past few years, this is exceptionally important now.

Samhain – Oct. 31 – Honoring the Ancestors

Nov. 1 – People I know personally who have died

Nov. 2 – The Children

Nov. 3 — The Animals

Nov. 4 – Souls preparing to reincarnate

Nov. 5 – The Lost – the homeless, the unknown, the runaways, those without families, who have no one to mourn for them.

(Note: this has been adjusted from the material presented in my article “Tending the Dead” in the 2003 Llewellyn Magical Almanac. Rituals evolve).

Creating your own ritual is far more powerful than using someone else’s, but I hope the ideas presented here will get you started. I’m simply sharing what I found works for me:

Start at Midnight;

In addition to my regular ritual candles, I have one candle for that specific night;

Music or poetry to read to the dead;

Call in strong circle guardians, such as watchtowers, dragons or angels. Remember, you’re dealing with the dead. Just because they’re dead doesn’t mean they’re nicer now than they were in life. You can also invite one of your Ancestors to assist you in the rest of the work;

Listen to what they have to say, but don’t get manipulated into doing anything with which you are uncomfortable or making promises you can’t keep;

Open the West Gate to receive them;

Send them back the same way and SEAL the gate;

Take extra time grounding and centering;

Eat when you’ve opened the circle.

Please note that these ceremonies are not for beginners; make sure you have a solid foundation in your craft before dealing with any dead rather than your own ancestors.