Stories of Spirit…Ancestor Honoring [staying connected to our beloved dead]

Death is one of my favorite subjects.  As a Medium I spend many hours a week talking to dead people, and much more speaking to people about the importance of mourning and honoring our dead.

Grammy Brown & my Dad ‘Richard’, two of my Beloved Dead.

Our relationship with death has in many ways been glossed over by modern media.  I believe this started in the 50’s with television and the homogenization of America.  We went from a nation that experienced death in the manner of our ancestors, deeply flavored by the many ethnicities that make up our nation, to a whitewashed ‘Leave it to Beaver’ style mourning.  Death became an organized wake or viewing hours, a funeral, and two weeks of casseroles donated by your friends and neighbors.

We let go of all of our outward signs of mourning.  Gone were the armbands, and ceremonial black dress; which now is just the standard daily uniform for a majority of folks living east of the Mississippi, leaving us with no visual signs that a person was still deeply involved in grieving their passed loved one.  Instead, like all good viewing audiences, we are supposed to follow the lead of our television leaders, and put on some lipstick, tidy our hair, and show people we were not fazed by death.  The only problem is, we are often not OK, and the lipstick doesn’t really do shit for the feelings we hold in our heart.

Death brings with it a deep melancholy, an overwhelming desire to hold/see a person one more time.  It makes us look at our regrets, and the precious moments we wish could be repeated.  Death is powerful, and we need to find a way of making the process of death and mourning sacred again.  We need to forget the television version and reach instead for the old ways, that does not hide death, but instead, show us that it is normal and that feeling ‘OK’ after the death of a loved one takes time.  We need to reclaim our relationship with our ancestors so that death no longer feels like isolation.  We need to educate ourselves about death, take it out of the closet and get to know it a little better.

Locally and nationally there is an organization known as ‘the Death Cafe’ http://deathcafe.com The Death Cafe is not a storefront, instead, it is a group gathering that sets up shop in coffee shops, libraries, and local gathering holes.  The group is open to anyone wanting to talk about death…people who are dying, people who have recently lost someone, and people just fascinated with death are all welcome.  In Vermont, we have groups in Burlington, Montpelier, Johnson, Manchester, and more…

In my work as a Medium, I often talk about the importance of keeping our dead alive in our thoughts and deeds.  This does not mean we pretend they are still alive, it means we interact with them as if they are still vital members of our family.  In my family, we speak of our dead so often, that my children could tell you stories about ancestors who died way before they were born.  They not only know the larger than life stories, but some of the simpler things, like the fact that Grammy Brown loved to smoke cigarettes, and that her father had a still on the property where he brewed moonshine back in the early 1900’s.

When the holidays come around our Beloved Dead are not forgotten.  Often a plate is put out for our ancestors, that is filled throughout the day with their favorite treats.  This tradition started with our Celtic ancestors who left our a feast for the dead on holy days, such as Halloween/Samhain.  A traditional Dumb Supper is done on or near Halloween night, some sources say as close to midnight as possible.  A table is elaborately set, as you are having a feast.  Food should be thought out, including favorites of your ancestors and loved ones.  The table is set for all living guest as well as all that are in spirit.  At the dinner, everyone remains silent, in observation of those who cannot communicate with us any longer.

Over time traditions change, as the pattern is woven with personal beliefs and additional ethnic spices.  My family, for example, is Irish Gypsy & Native American, creating a hodge-podge of hillbilly magic that is all our own…, We do not reserve the feasting of our ancestors to Halloween night alone.  They get plates at Thanksgiving, Yule and other family festivities.  We do not sit in silence, for that is something that does not exist in a loud Irish family.  Instead, we simply place a plate for our ancestors and fill it throughout the gathering.

Here is a simple way to honor your Beloved Dead; family, friends, loved ones and ancestors, this Halloween and in the upcoming season of holidays.

family altar

*Set up a small altar in a corner of the kitchen, dining room, or living room.  Place pictures of your loved ones who have crossed into Spirit on the altar, as well as small items of memorabilia that remind you of those you have lost.

*Place a plate on the altar, choose something special, perhaps something from your grandmother’s china, or a piece your sister made in pottery class.  You are giving your Beloved Dead a place of honor.

*Pick one item of food to place on the plate that you know will be appreciated by your loved one in Spirit.  Then tell others that they are welcome to leave a treat as well.

As the day goes on, the plate fills up with all sorts of goodness.  Drinks can be left beside the plate, as can smokes, after all, I know my Dad would appreciate a beer and a smoke.  Sometimes we eat whats on the plate.  Some people would frown on this saying that whatever you leave for the dead belongs to them.  But I am from poor stock, and my ancestors know that food should be eaten and appreciated by the living.  If you decide to munch from the plate of the dead, make sure to share a story as you do.  If you’re eating one of Gramma’s cherry chocolates, you damn well better be telling a story about her love of them.  If you smoking your dad’s cigarette, make sure to savor it and imagine all the times you saw him sitting on the porch having a smoke.

More then anything our Beloved Dead want to be remembered, talked about and part of our lives.  The more often we speak of them, and remember them through simple ceremonies, such as a plate at Thanksgiving, the easier it is for us to heal and feel their presence around us.  Remember our Spirits want to make contact with us, they want to reassure us that they are OK and that there is something after death.

I hope you have a fantastic Halloween season.  I will be celebrating quietly this year, with deep personal journey work and ventures into Spirit for myself.  As a Medium, it is easy to tell myself that I spend a lot of time in the Spirit world, but the truth of the matter is I am working.  I am helping others to connect to their Beloved Dead, it is not the same as honoring and connecting to my own Beloved Dead.  I hope you enjoyed the read folks, and that you find your way to connecting to those who have been lost to you through the veil of death.

spreading love-Salicrow

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STORIES OF SPIRIT…Talking to the Dead in Public [elders, ancestors, and offerings]

I did a Seance the other day, sitting at a picnic table in front of a coffee shop.  The weather was a bit chilly and the elderly lady who sat in a wheelchair parked at the end of the table was bundled up in a fuzzy blanket.

I have done Spirit Communication in front of large crowds, and I have spoken to the dead under some unusual circumstances…I once did a Seance in a trailer in Florida, while the cable guy did an installation.  But this was my town, and the corner I sat on was in front the cafe that houses my studio.  It’s a busy part of town, and as my neighbors walked by they called out “Hi Sali”, oblivious to the fact that I was deep in a conversation with dead people.

The family I sat with had arrived at my studio for a Seance, but there had been a miscommunication, they had not heard me say that it was above the Grindstone Cafe, which meant upstairs.  They had their elderly mother with them; a woman close to 90 who was being pushed in a wheelchair.  As the cafe, itself is too busy &  close quartered to offer the privacy needed for such services, and they had traveled a long distance, we were left with only one option…the picnic table outside.

The weather was chilly, so I offered up a warm, fuzzy blanket from my healing space to help keep the family matriarch warm.  When her daughter draped the red blanket over her head and tucked it in around her frail body her appearance changed, she suddenly looked more like a priestess then grandmother.  I found myself thinking of the importance of the role of elder.  How wisdom and memory are gifts of time that only some of us are fortunate enough to experience.

It was a family of women I sat with; a mother, 2 daughters and a granddaughter.  They had come to communicate with the menfolk of their life, who had already departed for the world of spirit.  The women sitting together around the table with me had a strong bond with one another.  In fact, the family matriarch lived with her daughter and granddaughter, multiple generations living in one home.  I have lived this way, both as a child and as a grandmother.  I lived with my parents and grandparents a couple of times in my childhood, and both of my children have come home to live with me, bringing their children with them.  Although I do not live that way now, I know it and appreciate it.

In my work as a Medium, I have been introduced to many interpretations of the word family.  Some families are very small, consisting of one parent and a couple of kids, some are large including nieces, nephews, and grandparents/great grandparents and every kind of 1st, 2nd and 3rd cousin you could imagine.  Family is something we all want, even if the one we are born into is not healthy for us, we still find ourselves missing it, or at least the idea of it.  There is something about shared history that helps us to accept the toll of time, and the dance of death.  By remembering those who have come before us, and watching those who have come after us, we see that we are more than this lifetime.  We are part of something greater.

When I was in Ireland, I had the opportunity to stay with an old Irish family, the O’Hanlons.  They were fantastic people with a rich family history, documented for over 1000 years.  I was blown away by this, and envious of the wealth of information they had on their ancestors.  Most of us are lucky to know if we who our great-great-grandparents were, let alone dozens of generations.

The Celts believe we reincarnate into our soul family.  That we step back onto the genetic trail that we have walked before.  I have seen this very thing while doing Past Life Readings for people.

The example that stands out the most clearly for me is this…The woman I was Reading for had a past life in which she came into the Boston during the early days of settlement.  She was a man in that life and had been born into a family of blacksmiths.  She, however, did not take the family path, instead deciding to become a doctor.  As I told her of the life I saw for her, she got excited and said: “That was my great-great-great grandfather.”  She had been doing some genealogy work, and as I spoke of her past life, she recognized an ancestor along her family tree.

Ancestor honoring is something I am quite passionate about.  Not because I see them as superhuman or close to deity, but because without our ancestors we would not be here.  We, humans, are genetically made up of the bits and pieces of our family DNA. We are amazing beings, and we don’t know shit about the complexity that we are.  Over the next couple of blogs, it is my hope to share a bit of my own practice of ancestor honoring, and the simple ways in which I recognize the family that has gone before me.  Today’s tip is about food, drink, and smokes.

The dead love to remember their favorite foods, beverages, and smokes.  If they were a smoker in life a simple way to give honor to them is to put a cigarette on your altar, or if you smoke yourself sit and have one while thinking about them.  If they loved to drink coffee, have your morning coffee while talking about them.

Yesterday I went out into the woods near Lake Willougby with my sister Sandy.  We were heading out to make offerings to the Fae Folk/Fairies and brought some snacks for ourselves.  As I crossed the bridge near her house, on the way to pick her up, my father (who is dead) exclaimed out of my mouth “Beef jerky Kid”.  He mentioned beef jerky 3 more times before I got to the store, and finally was satisfied when I bought a meat stick (more of a slim jim/then beef jerky).  At the lake, my sister and I both ate some while we talked about him.  I wasn’t surprised at all that he wanted to be included in our excursion as he had a deep love of the woods, that and my sister was wearing one of his flannel shirts when I arrived to pick her up.

Honoring our ancestors is in many ways honoring ourselves, for without those who walked before us, we would not be here today.  Our blood sings with the songs of our elders.  Some of the songs may be hard, sad songs, others soft and beautiful.  But whatever the song, it is our song and we are here to add to it, change it, carry on with it, in whatever way is ours.

I hope you enjoyed the read folks.  I will be writing more on ancestor honoring over the next couple of weeks.

spreading love-salicrow

 

STORIES OF SPIRIT…The Solitary Samhain [Halloween alone with the spirits]

I woke up this morning with a feeling of loneliness.  As I perused through the images on my Facebook feed of ‘Witches High Tea’ and spiritual retreats, I felt a longing for the days of my past when I would be preparing with my coven or druid order for the upcoming Samhain/Halloween ceremony.

There is something beautiful about being part of a group, a deep sense of belonging and collaboration.  We humans, seek out such connections because it helps us identify ourselves.  We inspire, give support and challenge one another.  In many ways, we learn who we truly are when we interact with others.  Our similarities and differences of opinion and values help forge us into the individuals we are.  I love the idea of being part of something, but like most relationships, the people in them evolve, roles we take change and often we move on.  I suppose I am one of those that move on.  It’s not that I cannot commit, but more that my life often takes me on the winding road, with paths so narrow that I must often walk alone; part of the balance required if we are to truly know ourselves.

Loneliness is powerful, it has much to teach us about ourselves.  Many people try to avoid it at all cost choosing instead to fill their days with endless social media check-ins and the mindless chatter of superficial conversation.  Few people are comfortable with the thoughts that speak to them from the shadows of their mind.  We have become accustomed to identifying ourselves solely by the value that others place on us.  This is unfortunate for the shadow has much to offer us.  The path of one is also powerful.

I have no group to work my All Hallows magic with, I have groups I can join, and groups I can lead, but I have no group to which I currently belong, and yet I feel the call of my Ancestors, asking me to prepare for their holy night.  I am comfortable with my solitary position and accept the loneliness as fitting for embracing the veil of death.  I know that I have many friends who are waiting for me on the other side, reaching out for contact.  As a Medium, my days are filled with speaking to those who have passed on, to the Beloved Dead, but they are not mine, they are the loved ones of others, of the people who I help with my work.

I don’t know what Halloween will hold for me this year.  I wanted to do something fantastic, to go the extra mile in helping others have a truly spirited experience, so that they may walk away knowing what it feels like to cross the veil.  But there has been a hesitation, a delay.  I have not put out the announcement, and invited others to join me…instead I have paused, taken a deep breath and without intention chosen the solitary approach.  I feel that this year, I am being asked to go through the veil alone and that something/someone in that depth has need of me without the bonds of others. There is a teaching waiting for me in the shadow, and I must find my way there.

I feel regret for those of you who have become accustomed to joining me in the Betwixt & Between, crossing the veil at this time of year with my guidance and will indeed hold such space for you again in the future.  But for now I must follow the path of loneliness where it leads me.  I have prepared a Samhain Celebration for those of you who would like a little guidance in honoring your Beloved Dead this Halloween season.

ANCESTOR HONORING & the THINNING OF THE VEIL

You will need-

*Pictures and mementos of your loved ones

*A white Candle

*Offerings for your Beloved Dead (their favorite food, drink, smoke, flowers, perfume, etc)

Your altar should be a thing of beauty.  Choose your mementos wisely.  They do not need to be the most expensive, instead, they should hold sentimental value.  Prepare yourself for the ceremony as if you are going to a wedding, funeral, or church.  For you are having a very important date, and it is a sacred thing.

*Dim the lights in the room, light the candle on your altar.

*Imagine yourself surrounded by white light, that emanates out from your heart chakra (the center of your chest).  Take approximately 5 minutes to create sacred space.  With each breath out, the light around you is strengthened.  This white light is a protective bubble, allowing only the spirits of your Beloved Dead to be present.  With every inhale, call your loved ones to you with your mind.

*If you have offerings for you Beloved Dead (food/drink/smoke/perfume), speak to your dead of them, how you remember their favorites and have brought this offering for them.  Its ok to partake in the offerings, as long as you are doing so as an offering for your loved ones in Spirit.

*soften your gaze, allowing your eyes to focus on the light of the candle while allowing your peripheral vision to become enhanced. Wide angle vision is the same type of viewing we use to make pictures pop out in those 3d art pieces and the gaze that hunters use to keep their prey from feeling their eyes on them.

*Breathe deeply and stay relaxed.  Spend time with your concentration soft, allowing your loved ones to present themselves in whatever way that they may….scent, sight, hearing, touch.

*When you are finished close your circle, by thanking your Beloved Dead for being present and ask them to go in peace.  Blow out your candle, and leave your altar up for a day or two if you can.

*Take note of your dreams the following nights, as dreams are an easier place for spirits to make contact.

 

spreading love-salicrow