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Honoring the Ancestors
Death is final.  There is nothing you can do about it other than to accept it.

During this time of year when the leaves are changing colors and the air is thin and crisp, I tend to think about my loved ones who have gone before me.  I am reminded of a specific memory I had of my father a couple of years ago in the winter.

I looked outside today at the freshly falling snow.  As I watched the flakes drift down to the ground my eyes wandered over to the purple tailgate of my dad's truck sticking out from under my carport.  And as I noticed the snow piling up on the bumper, I was flooded with memories of my deceased father, with his jean jacket and skull cap on, shoveling snow from our driveway when I was a little girl.  I saw him clear as day as the white flakes stuck to his black hat and some even landing in his beard.  It was a happy, pleasant thought, but why were tears streaming down my face?  

I thought about this and realized that even though I can be struck with happy thoughts of my dad, the awareness of the permanence of death juxtaposed with the happiness creates friction in the mind.  There is this relieving satisfaction that comes with the  acceptance of death.  Yet the gravity of the finality of death coupled with a happy memory of the deceased, becomes like two opposing magnets, fighting to get away from each other.  How can I feel light hearted in my thoughts whilst feeling the heaviness of the permanence of death?  I stay in that uncomfortable blended space of Nostalgia and Reality, shed some tears and let it pass.  And then I revel in the relief of accepting his death and I move on with my day.

And this is how I am coping with my father's death.  When I light up some white sage and hold on to one of his favorite ametrine crystals, I feel the most connected to him.  I feel like I have a better relationship with him now than I ever did.  And that's ok.  He is now part of my ancestral pool that I can access for wisdom and strength.  I honor him as my father and now as my ancestor.  I've added his watch, an object of his that reminds me of him the most, to my ancestral shrine.  On a daily basis, or at least weekly, I take the time to connect with him and the rest of the ancestors by lighting a candle, burning some incense, making an offering and sitting in silence in communion with the ancestors.  

My ancestral shrine gives me a sense of culture and connection to the past.  A long time ago before the inception of the gods, tribal ancestors were invoked by the living during ceremony to gain wisdom and power.  It is believed that when one passes, they bring their own unique gifts and wisdom to the ancestral pool (Magnus, 2013).  This is why I honor those who have come before me and is an important part of my spiritual tradition.     

Mitakuye Oyasin.

Magnus, G. (2013). Authentic witchcraft: The historical tradition revealed (p. 33). Heritage Witchcraft Academy.

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