De mortuis nil nisi bonum - (“Of the dead, nothing unless good.”)
We hear this spoken usually after someone who was not a nice person dies. I read a blog post recently that had the following quote:
"You should have got your criticism in when they were still alive, and preferably, while they still had some power. We don’t speak ill of the dead because it’s not just distasteful: it’s cowardly." -Source
Well, while I get the gist of that. I am completely one who will indeed speak my mind when presented with the opportunity. Now that doesn't mean I'm going to spread rumors, run someone down I have blocked on social media while professing some sort of spiritual superiority. What it does mean that I am not going to support someone who I feel has their feet firmly placed in racism, bigotry or any negativity at all when they stand to the world professing spiritual awareness. It means that while I will work within the bounds of professionalism, if someone comes to me me looking for what what you have to offer, I will direct them to someone else who has less baggage. That's just a fact. Now, that being said, why would I treat the dead any different?
Back in 2011 I entered a blog contest to win a copy of Christian Day's Witches Book of the Dead. I wrote about my cousin Tony, who passed away while I was living in California. His brothers had moved him while he was passed out and bound him to a stop sign at a three way crossroad near my house with plastic wrap as a joke. He never regained consciousness. The police ruled his death an accident. When the book arrived I got to page 137, The Ritual of the Crossroads the way Hecate is described as being at the crossroads, that point where the worlds of the living and dead can often meet was a powerful visualization for me.
With the coming of Samhain many groups on social media are having discussions around ancestor altars and who should or should not be included on them. My altar has an assortment of photos, trinkets and possessions of those who have moved on. This is a very spiritual time for me, when I call upon those who have moved on to send energy and knowledge in exchange for my respecting and willingness to learn.
There are those who are intentionally left off the altar. I do not want their energy or their knowledge. I knew them too well in physical world. They caused too much pain here in this life to be honored in anyway in their passing.
When starting your ritual altar on don't feel that you have to do anything like one book or one person says. This is a personal space for you to honor those who have moved on from this life. It is a time for you to do work that is important to you. Don't feel like you have to add people or include energy that you're not comfortable with.
In my discussions, I found that some think they have to include a certain person for fear of them creating havoc in their home because they have "disrespected the dead". Personally I believe that not all dead are worthy of respect. Not every one who has crossed over is someone that should be honored no different than if they were here in the physical realm. If you have unruly dead making mischief in your house you need to take control of the situation and move them out, not give in and place them in higher regard.
Death is a transition to the next part of the energy exchange. It can be sad but it should be looked at as a natural part of life. Working with the dead is about listening and learning. We should listen twice as much as we speak in order to learn as much as we can. We should also learn that our time on this planet is limited. If we want to have others not speak ill of us after we move on, then maybe we should be a little more considerate of others while we have that opportunity. Not the other way around.
I'd love to see what altars you create or what rituals you do working with the dead this week. Feel free to post here or find me on social media at Tsu or Facebook.
|Ancestor Altar - Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson|