Saturday, April 4, 2015

Working with the Unknown Dead

My roommate/bff and I just got back from a drive out in the lovely (but cold/windy) weather. At one point, I drove thru through a lovely cemetery down by the water.  (Which my roommate questioned) . In the old section, several grave stones were toppled over, including almost every small one with a cross. It did not seem accidental. I'm pretty sure someone took a baseball bat (or a pipe or something) to them. There was definitely the vibe that someone did something unpleasant in that graveyard. (and I'm not very sensitive to that kind of thing)

The ones we could get to stand up, we righted, and the others we propped up so they could be read, and placed the broken crosses on top. (one was too heavy for us to lift, so it remains face-down). Rummaging through the car, I found a bottle of water and some loose change. I put a couple of coins on each broken grave, said their name if I could read it, and poured a little water out. At my request, my roommate lit a cigarette and blew some smoke on each one. In the center of this section of graves was a very old stone slab, all covered in moss. I poured the rest of water out, and said it was for everyone. The wind picked up, whistling and howling, and that's when my roommate's "just too creepy" meter kicked in and he requested we leave.

I took a stone from beside the moss-stone and put it on my ancestor altar at home, where I poured a little brandy out on it.

I think I might pack a bag with a rattle, some whiskey, milk, eggs and cornmeal and go back. Those spirits are restless. Someone did them wrong, and it seems like spending an afternoon singing in the sunshine is a very good trade for making some new allies on the other side.

UPDATE: I just got back from my second trip. I spent some time trying to connect with the Queen of the Graveyard, with some limited success. When I first got to the graveyard, I initially turned left to head toward the area in question. That was CLEARLY wrong. I u-turned, and drove three full clockwise circuits of the graveyard before parking near the section I was working with. (section "M" if you want to go visit). I got out, poured some more water, and sat under a central-ish yew tree for a while. I got the impression that the "bad work" had happened quite some time ago, before the winter, but that the snow had "covered" it. Now that the snow was melting, the "badness" was released. I was instructed to circle the section counter-clockwise, shaking the rattle and "unweaving" what had been done. (which felt like maybe some kind of binding? I don't really know)

On the moss-covered stone, which felt like the epicenter of the "bad juju", I drew an equal-armed cross of cornmeal and laid the egg in the middle. I rattled over it for a long time, entreated the earth to take the uncleanness and swallow it, allowing it to decay into purity under the ground. I would have left a votive candle, but it was too windy. It felt like it worked, I think? I poured some Metaxa out, and then poured a big circle of clean water around the stone.

After that, I walked the circuit clockwise, pouring water at "corners" and at the base of every tree. I walked the graveyard, pouring out water and Metaxa on the graves that asked for it. I picked up some trash I found (there was very little, actually.  This is perhaps the cleanest graveyard I've ever been in). I walked around some more, singing a wordless song. After a while, it felt like I was requested to sing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" which at first seemed like a weird choice because it's a Christmas song, but the lyrics make sense in the context of what I was doing; setting some folks to rest. I only know the chorus, and not even really all of that. I kind of faked it. Here is what I sang "God rest ye, merry Gentlemen, let nothing you dismay, for Christ your loving savior was born on Christmas day. ba da da da da da da da da da da da da da, God rest you in comfort and joy, comfort and joy! God rest you in comfort and joy." (which, it turns out, are sort of like the actual lyrics...)

Then I sang Shalom Aleichem, whose lyrics I do know, a couple of times. I sang it in Hebrew, but in English, it says more or less:
"Peace be upon you, angels who teach, angels of the Most High, angels of the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He.
Come in peace, angels of peace, angels of the Most High....
Bless me with peace, angels of peace, angels of the Most High..."

There is a fourth verse, that bids the angles to depart in peace. I didn't sing that one.

Finally, I sang (the chorus of) Let It Be, which is, genuinely, the best shamanic song I know for settling restless spirits (and also restless children).  If you don't know this song (which I don't even know how that could be) you're in for a treat. Go listen to it. Fun fact: "Mother Mary" in this song ISN'T Jesus's mom, it's Paul McCartney's mother, who died when he was a kid. Ereshkigal loves this song (as did my mother).

I need to learn better songs for this kind of thing. SMH. If the spirits had wanted an encore, I can't even imagine what I would have sung.

When I was leaving, I loosely tied some blue silk ribbons I found in my car to the branches of a low tree; I think a Japanese maple, but my tree identification skills are not great in the winter with no leaves. Why? I'm not sure. It seemed like the thing to do. They whip around in the wind very satisfyingly. When I was a kid, every spring, as soon as the snow thawed, we would hang ribbon from the trees. Then, in the fall, we would sometimes find birds' nests with the ribbons woven into them.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you've thought of it by taking the stone home, but for every cemetery I majorly work with I have a relic from it on my altar so I can do some basic work and connect with them at a distance. If it was too windy for a candle there, you can offer it at home.

    Thanks for sharing this, and doing this, I'll be curious to hear how things at that cemetery change after this and if/what else will be required.