Dancing With the Dead Pt. 3: Honor

Dancing With the Dead Pt. 3: Honor October 29, 2014

This is the third, and final part of my series on ancestors, the dead, and inheritance. First let me apologize to those of you following this series who expected this piece on Sunday.
We honor our ancestors every year, at Samhain. Sometimes, it is more often than that. It makes me think about how I want to be remembered. What do I want my legacy to be, and how do I want to be honored? It’s interesting to think about.

Maybe there’s a way to look at this on a smaller scale. Conflict precedes change. This is symbolized by the Death card in tarot, and perhaps by the tower card as well. To see clearly, to grow, sometimes we have to lose something. Often those things we find comfortable can be trapping us, even if they start out as beneficial. Consider the toys of childhood. They permit us to get lost in our heads. Their departure forces us to cope with life, as well as understand ourselves. Sometimes we gain a new kind of freedom when we find a fresh, liberating way to get lost in our fantasies. This isn’t always the way it works, but this coming of age, the loss of our toys and our innocence, is a kind of death. We hopefully come out of adolescence stronger, wiser, and with at least the foundations of a life purpose. But that time is littered with conflicts, originating in our hearts and revealing themselves as various difficulties we go through. The loss of innocence is the death, the gain of wisdom is the rebirth.
So when we go through these little deaths, these changes that follow on the heels of conflict, we give ourselves credit. Someone who has learned something about themselves often feels like celebrating. A good example of this is when I stopped calling myself Catholic. I continued to play along, though in my heart for a year or so, I was pretty much agnostic. I studied and searched, and found a Wiccan educational site by accident. I felt awake, really myself for the first time. I call that a death. I wanted my friends to know that I had found myself. I also wanted to experience the joy of magic. So I did. I honored myself.
I’m into a second cycle of this sort. I think it was summer of 2013 when I decided to set aside the “harm none” doctrine of Wicca, in favor of my own instincts, which dictate that I defend my own. I also wanted to branch out to lesser-known types of magic. I gave myself six months. If it worked for me, I wouldn’t go back. If it didn’t, than no penalty minutes. I never looked back. I am now more polytheist, focused on goddess work, and magic is pretty central to my life, more so than formal spirituality, though I still follow the sabbats. I’m doing something similar right now, giving myself a chance to really see what dating a decent woman is like, since I am so frustrated with the straight relationships I have had in which men would become obsessed, and possessive almost overnight. Now I have to find a way to unlearn the habit of making myself express the level of affection that seemed to be required, despite my own feelings. Its a death-rebirth faze for me, because I have to revise the way I approach relationships, and de tangle a lot, so I can finally have what I want, which is a life partner and a biological family. I hope to be remembered as a community leader, a good wife, a good friend, and a mother who doesn’t make the mistakes my own made. That is the legacy of this death I am going through.
There are the material ways in which we want our deaths to leave a mark on the world. I want any remaining money after expenses to go to Circle Sanctuary, and I want an oak planted over my grave instead of a stone. I am writing a living will in case of something happens, to ensure that certain people have a chance to get certain possessions.
Some people want to be celebrated. Not everyone thinks about the concept. For me, I kind of want both. What I leave people is really important to me. I hope to leave a tradition of witchcraft, a family who respects nature and each other, and good friends with whom I have made many lasting memories. I guess this is why I like taking pictures. I like capturing a piece of a moment, forever to keep it safe and within reach. I hate the idea of being forgotten. I think it is really sad when that happens to someone. They grow old, die, and are forgotten, leaving nothing in their wake but bones. I guess it is selfish, but I hope I’m missed, but I hope people will celebrate the good times.
I think it is important, even for young people like myself, to think about this stuff. So I want a big family, a lot of good memories, and a respected position within the Pagan community. We go through little deaths in life as we face ourselves and break through our self-imposed barriers when we are ready. But there is one big death, that throws us back into the spiral of incarnation. At that point, we are out of time to make an impact on the world, at least for that life. We must take with us all we have learned, and save as much as possible for the next time our sun rises. So, I may have said this in a recent post, but it bares repeating. If you died tomorrow, how would the people whose lives you touched remember you? And how would you want them to celebrate you? I guess what I hope for the most is that people carry on the traditions I create, especially those that bring family and friends together, and those that make the world a better place.

I hope you enjoy this.

The Spiral

Endless winding stairway
some rise and some descend
it is not always a fair way
forward they have messages to send
forward to themselves
wounds to heal
songs to weave
books on shelves
of the archives unsealed
dancing and learning to believe
hearts’ fear and desires burn deep
as we climb the stairway
in that deepest sleep
awaiting our new day.

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