A Ritual for Remembering the Dead

A Ritual for Remembering the Dead January 14, 2022

I’ve been thinking about death a lot. My dad died. Another mentor died.

So many others.

And while we’re a ways from Samhain (in the Northern Hemisphere), they seem closer. Or maybe I’m listening more.

Or maybe they’re louder.

Or maybe I just know so many voices now that I can’t avoid them.

I’ve seen them out of the corner of my eye. Rounding the corner of places they’ve never been.

I’ve heard them. I’ve looked up at stars and known they were there.

CC0 Public Domain via Pxhere

Sitting with the Dead

The Samhain time is when the veils are thin, when the dead seem to be closer and louder. My guess is that they’re around all the time, but in the stillness of longer nights, it’s easier to slow down and to listen. It’s easier to stop and remember.

What you will need:

  • A picture of your Beloved Dead / loved one who you have lost
  • A white candle
  • A fireproof container
  • Small slips of paper
  • Pen / pencil
  • Matches / lighter

Take the time you need to ground and be present. It can help to know that being witnessed in your grief can be a powerful ritual unto itself, so if you can have the support of a friend during this work, invite them along. And if not, you can certainly do this work on your own.

Call into the space the energies that work for you and our magical tradition. I’ll ground and cast the circle before calling in the elements. Once those energies are present, this ritual can invite in a god that you work with or you might want to simply call in your Beloved Dead.

Call them by their name, call them by all of their nicknames, call them the way you used to call out to them. You can call them out silently or you can call them out with your full voice. But bring your attention and intention to the calling so that they arrive.

Welcome the Arrival

When you feel them present, light the white candle and place their picture nearby. Gaze into their eyes and allow your eyelids to drop a little bit, enough to soften. Feel the presence of your loved one begin to reach out to you.

And simply be in the space with them. Allow whatever bubbles up to bubble up. Notice the sensations in your body and the shifts in the places around you. 

If it feels right to you, think about the things you’d like your Beloved Dead to know and write them down on the slips of paper. Hold the pieces of paper and talk about them to your dead. Tell them about the joys and the despair in your life. Let them into the world of the living and of memory.

Burn the pieces of paper when you are done talking about them, as an offering.

From here, you could choose to stay with your Beloved Dead until you feel complete. And when you are done, simply let them know you are grateful for their presence in your life. Tell them what you would tell them when you’d say goodbye. And promise to remember them.

For what is remembered, lives.

Thank the energies you called in, open the circle, and feast on a meal they would enjoy too.

(rewritten piece from 2018, Turn of the Wheel zine)


About Irisanya Moon
I’m a Witch. I’m a writer. I’m a priestess, teacher, feminist, and initiate in the Reclaiming tradition, as well as death doula. I serve the godds, my community, and the Earth. I’ve called myself a Witch for more than 20 years, and my life has been infused with magick. I am interested in shifting stories – the ones we tell ourselves and the ones that are told about us. I’m continuously inspired to engage as the storyteller and the story, the words and the spaces between. I am a devotee of Aphrodite, Hecate, the Norns, and Iris. I seek to find love and to inspire love by reminding us we are not alone, while also meeting myself at the crossroads, holding the threads of life, and bringing down messages from the godds. (I've also written some books. You can get them at my website.) You can read more about the author here.

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