The year is drawing to an end, and naturally I am drawn to reflecting back on it. I’ve successfully created a cycle of regular, simple offerings that seems to work for me. I miss offerings sometimes, and they’re not particularly complex; I suspect part of me will always be drawn to something intricate and complicated, but a teacup full of fresh, cool water and a beeswax tealight on the saucer seem to be sufficient for now.
One of my primary goals this year was to work on my relationship with my Dead, via their shrine and their holydays. I think this trend will continue into the new year- I’ve spent most of the day trying to wrangle some brainweasels that popped up as I went to bed last night. I’ve spent a good bit of the past few days cleaning and reorganizing, more of which I will continue to do today and tomorrow; as always I struggle with TooManyThings in insufficient space. In this instance, it’s a matter of shrine space. I purchased two of the honeycomb shelves I mentioned in this post, and while I am very fond of them, I don’t have the wall space for the numbers of them I want. I’ve also done a significant amount of work on my family tree lately, increasing the number of Dead whose names need speaking, whose lives I want to remember in some small token. I went to bed last night feeling frustrated, like I was letting them down because I can’t tend their graves, I can’t create a memorial to each of them.
I don’t know if it was a message from one of my Dead or just my mind rolling around the guilt I went to sleep with, but I dreamt of illuminated manuscripts, and this morning I decided it was a very interesting idea. I could make a very different kind of Book of the Dead, with an illuminated false door/gravestone for each member of my family. Either they could be loose in a folio format or bound into an actual book; either way, I could display the page in question and set my offerings in front of it. I’d need a lot less space, and I could keep the honeycomb shrines focused on just the Dead I have memories of.
All of that said, a Book of the Dead will be a long time in coming, as I’d want to do it by hand. I’ve always wanted to learn calligraphy anyway, but it’ll take a while to get to a point where I’m happy with it. As for the illuminated part, well, I suspect I’ll be tracing a lot. Luckily I’m not too bad at painting inside the lines! Anyway, it’s a thought, and one worth attempting, I think, even if it will be a rather long term project.
The other Dead-related brainweasel I’ve been chasing today is making a set of prayers to different gods to be recited at different points following the death of someone I love. (Thank you for your help with that, Kiya.) I’ve settled on some definite prayers. One to Hermes, at the news of death, to ask him to bring the deceased safely from the world of the living. One to Brighid, at the wake or funeral, to ask her to comfort the living while they caoine. One to Hekate, during the seventy days following death, to ask her to guide and guard the deceased during their travels. One to Djehuty, on the 70th day after the death, though I’m not sure what specifically to ask in terms of the weighing. And finally one to Hetharu, on the day after, to ask her to welcome them to the West (which is also when I’d set up their spot on the shrine.)
There are, of course, many other entities in all three pantheons who I could direct my prayers to as well. Whether or not I will, I’m not sure. I’m reluctant to reach outside my twelve, as far as gods go. I may reach out to some of the Hellenic spirits, though I admit the line between god and spirit can be hard to find sometimes. The only one that comes to mind at the moment would be Kharon; I could bury a penny to pay his fee, or leave one in a store for Hermes to take to him. I expect an offering to the Moirae at some point would also be appropriate, keepers of life, death, and fate that they are. There’s plenty to think about, that’s for sure, not to mention the actual prayer writing. Which is far from my favorite thing in the world.
Hopefully now that I’ve gotten the brainweasels on paper, so to speak, they will stop rolling around in my head and let me focus on other things for a little while.