Monday, November 12, 2018

Ask the Witch: Working in Cemetaries

All photos are from Allegheny Cemetery


Today, in a sorcery group I participate in, a question was asked about where in a cemetery to leave offerings.  I've written some on cemetery work before, but I haven't talked about the Queen Grave before.

I was taught that every cemetery has a Queen or King grave. Leaving offerings there is leaving offerings for the all the inhabitants of the graveyard. To find the Queen grave, wander the graveyards paths, with a trash bag, bottle of rum, some dimes, and a corncake (or your local substitute).  Pick up trash as you go.  Sing a child's song under your breath about the queen of the cemetery. Just make it up, and you will, eventually, feel it "click" in to being the right song. The one you always knew, but couldn't remember. Keep singing the song, and watch carefully for the Queen (or King) grave. 

It will likely meet most of the following criteria:
1) Have a large impressive monument.
2) Be on top of a hill, likely at the highest point in the bone orchard.
3) Be among the oldest graves.
4) Be of a person notable, in life, as a leader. (for good or ill)
5) Have a large tree close by.
6) Be ostentatiously occult in appearance.  The best way to become King of the Boneyard is to want it.

Of these criteria, the ostentatiousness of the monument is the most important, but not the only criteria. For example, the King Grave of Allegheny Cemetary is not the very modest stone of Ebenezer Denny (among the oldest inhabitants of the boneyard, a revolutionary war hero, and the first mayor of Pittsburgh), who is buried with a simple headstone, but rather the Wainwright family, brewers who are buried with this (now illegible) pyramid + book monument built in 1850.

You'll know it when you find it, because your song will come to a natural end. Large cemeteries, particularly those with many hills or trees that break up sight lines, often have multiple Queen graves.
Once you've found the Queen (or King) grave, what should you do there?  these instructions are for the first time you "meet" the grave.  I will later give "follow up visit" instructions.  

First, pick up any trash, dead flowers, faded/ripped flags, etc that are littering the grave and her immediate area.  You can sing while you do this if you want.  Make sure you take the trash off the grave, at least as far as the path, and ideally back to your car.  Once you are done...

Back onto the path, and face the grave.  Introduce yourself, out loud.  Give your full use name, and whatever magical ancestral, or etc names/titles you like.  Use an honorific title for them (Lord of the Graveyard, Keeper of the Stones, Queen of these Dead....whatever feels right)  Explain why you have come.  Bow/curtsey, etc.  Pour the libation, and leave the dimes on the headstone (small stones are also good) . Then, sit with the grave as long as you like, and listen for the will of the Queen (King). When you leave, bow again, and (if it is true) say that you would like to return again. 

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