Anubis in “American Gods”

I’ve read Neil Gaiman’s book and loved it, a reminder that the gods are always with us in one shape and form, although not always in familiar guises! It raised many questions. Do the gods fade into nothingness when our worship and faith cease to be? Do they become phantoms lurking in the recesses of the World Mind waiting for an acknowledgement, some sign that we still love them, fear them? This isn’t either a review of the book or series, but a whisper of something lying hidden within me. Perhaps the gods are asking where I’ve been and where I’m going…

I was brought up in a different spiritual path to the one being practised now and this scene resonated strongly with me. Although the ancient Egyptian gods were always  a source of fascination even when I was a little child. If we give them a place in our thoughts and memories they will not forget even beyond death. Hopefully His Nibs, as I like to call him, will meet me at the portal when my time approaches. The actor playing Anubis was well chosen.


As for the next scene, what emptiness and hopelessness she has within her! One wonders whether the character truly believes that there is either no hope or possibility of something better beyond life. When the Scales don’t balance the possibility looks bleak…

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Road Trip to Hades

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Image: Pixabay

It’s been rather difficult thinking of suitable subjects to write about lately, then it hit me, I need an adventure to get my teeth into. The Shed’s rather quiet at the moment as most of the lodgers are on their holidays. Anubis has been absent for a while, probably engaged in guiding duties. Not in the Egyptian Underworld but in Bloomsbury, central London. I think he’s got a pretty good gig going on there. The place is crawling with denizens of the underworld. I had my suspicions for years but could never prove it. Odin and Sekhmet are on a walking holiday in Crete. Apparently Odin has distant relatives living there. Who knew? As for the White Rabbit and Mad Hatter, I prefer not to think about those two at the moment, they’ve caused enough havoc. Azrael, the Angel of Death and Cerberus are coming back from their respective road trips soon.

Reflecting on past encounters with the above archetypal figures, it seems evident that these individuals appear as “heralds” in our life. Joseph Campbell comments in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” that the appearance of such beings acts as “the call to adventure”[1], precipitating the Hero into life changing experiences. Of course there have been many occasions when I’ve refused “the call to adventure”, only to face inertia and negative situations.  The gods will only take so many refusals before making an offer that can’t be refused.

When the call is accepted supernatural aid appears at the right time. Enter stage left Azrael, Anubis and Cerberus. Two chthonic deities and the angel of Death assigned as planetary angel of Pluto in Qabalistic and medieval magical tradition. The power of Three consolidated. Containing within themselves the beginning, middle and end, past present and future, body, soul and spirit.

“Quite a lot to think about, isn’t it?” A voice mutters from stage left.

I turn to face three figures grinning at me from the shadows. Azrael gives a thumbs up and the canine terrors wink like mad. Not what you expect from these entities, beings traditionally associated with death, initiation, and dissolution. They also embody secrets and wisdom hidden deep within the Self. That’s been my experience, I can’t speak for anyone else.

“You want adventure and here we are, ready to offer you an experience of a life time as the cliché goes” Azrael comments quietly.

He watches carefully, eyes sliding to the fire escape. An eyebrow lifts in question. What are they up to? Cerberus pulls back a curtain to reveal a rather sweet looking VW van. It screams road trip. He then flourishes a sign with something scrawled on it. It’s written in beautiful copperplate script. HADES. Be still my beating heart! Is this the offer that can’t be refused?

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Image: Pixabay

The Road Beckons

The van is packed and this strange band of travellers gets underway. I’m not sure where they got the vehicle from, it’s like a Tardis inside. Anubis puts a toy Dalek on the dashboard and mutters something about the three of them being Dr Who fans. Azrael is outside checking his motorbike. The Angel of Death is a biker, well, well. We finally depart after a few minutes. The green landscape of North Wales flash by and then the road towards Ruthin and Llangollen is taken. The landscape changes soon after as a detour is made towards the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran in Llangollen. A portal opens near the ruins and the van whizzes through. We face an endless road in a desert landscape. The sky is bright and cloudless, the air is still, almost filled with expectation. Feet up, I’m busily scribbling my impressions in a notebook. How’s the journey so far?

It feels like we’ve been travelling for hours but it’s only been half an hour. Time moves in strange ways in this place, wherever this ‘place’ is. There are a variety of figures walking on either side of the road, one is holding a large clock, and its hands appear to be moving in an anti-clockwise direction. They smile at us and carry on walking. Each figure that passes bows their head in deference. Our exalted companions are the focus of their attention. The bleak but beautiful landscape is soon interrupted by a building that suddenly appears on the horizon. It’s an American style diner. Quelle surprise!

We disembark and find a booth to sit. The clientele are an odd assortment, consisting of shades of the dead and what appears to be the cast of “Frozen” ( I loathe that cartoon). Azrael greets a striking looking woman adorned with beautiful tattoos. She hugs him enthusiastically and kisses my other companions with as much energy. Finally she approaches me, her stare being quite intense. I stare back, kindred souls it appears. Hail mighty Ishtar!

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Image: Pixabay

The image of the figure holding the clock appears once again and the great river of time washes over us. The Goddess retells the story of her descent into the Underworld over a cup of coffee. Her hands and eyes convey the passion of her experiences, poignant and illuminating by turns. Her story is the story of our Soul, mirroring its many losses, regret, sorrow and moments of understanding. Her descent into Darkness, dissolution and eventual ascent into the Light show the way to new beginnings. She pauses and winks. A small box is pushed across the table, it’s a gift for us. Nestled in blue velvet is an eight-pointed star. An important gift, we must take note of its symbolism. She advises me not to eat or drink anything that’s offered in this place. Although this prohibition doesn’t apply to the Psycho-pomps offering me anything though. “Remember” her voice whispers in our head. She blows a dramatic kiss and then disappears. The other diners are still entranced by the tale of the Goddess, emboldened even by her resilience, also saddened at the prospect of no return. They eye Cerberus and his companions nervously.

At this point I’m thinking “if Cerberus is here, who’s guarding the gates of the Underworld?”

Cerberus pipes up “my cousin Cyril’s doing me a favour. I haven’t had a holiday for, oh, five thousand years. Sorry, I lied. There was that time when Anpu and I went on a bender at New Year several years ago.”

Wish he wouldn’t read my mind! I remember that incident, it was rather embarrassing trying to break the news to Hades. The canine terrors had to perform community service in a dance studio in Buenos Aires, teaching tango.

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Image: Pixabay

As soon as we leave the diner it vanishes into thin air. A memory of things dreamt of by a younger world. Such phantasms litter the highways of the inner landscape, being stopping points for weary travellers. Dylan, our VW van carries on down the road. Azrael now leads, a magnificent presence enshrouded in divine light, all-powerful, all compassionate. Such beings rarely show their true appearance. It would mean certain annihilation for our spiritual and material forms, such is the magnitude of their power. Cerberus is chatting away with his adoptive brother, they laugh briefly. A few minutes later we hear cursing from outside. Cerberus has his bottom stuck in the window, it seems he was mooning at a passer-by. Well, Herakles had it coming, fancy kidnapping Cerberus from the Underworld as part of his Twelfth Labour. I think they’re even now. Dylan kicks into life and zooms down the road. We hold our collective breath, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions after all…

From a distance we spy a lone figure pushing a huge rock uphill only to see it roll back down again. Sisyphus, king of Ephyra (Corinth) was condemned for all eternity to carry out a futile task for his hubris, deceit and egotistical nature. We decide not to stop and make our way past Sisyphus. The fields surrounding the king are filled with Datura plants, a bad omen indeed. A warning is issued by our companions not to be deceived by this individual. The crimes he was condemned for in life are still valid in the afterlife, such as it is. He cheated death at least twice but was eventually dragged back to the underworld by Hermes.

Rituals, Blessings and Farewells

Dusk is falling and the night sky is now filled with gleaming points of light. We stop to camp by the roadside, no sense in travelling any further as it’s the dark of the moon tonight. There are rituals to be performed for the dead, one of many before we enter the Underworld proper. We sense them gathering around us, so many that are known and unknown. Prayers are said, offerings made, and respect given. Many have passed through the transition alone and unmourned, even unloved. For them these rituals are a balm and blessing. A release more importantly.

Azrael censes me with incense, for this night is significant for me as well. I must finally relinquish my old self, make the descent and lay her to rest. The Universe peers at me from his eyes, which are like stars blazing in a lapis lazuli sky. Azrael is considered the Angel of Death in Jewish and Islamic angeology, but there is no reference of him named as such in the Christian Bible. Additionally some scholars have disputed the name Azrail being used in the Qu’ran, the angel of death is simply called Malak Al-Mawt. He transcends religion and dogma, the sense is that he WAS before time began. It’s not the biker that stands before me now but something profoundly powerful, infinitely compassionate and gentle. Not to be feared at all. As for my Muse, His Nibs (Anubis) approaches next and rests his forehead on mine. We haven’t had much time to chat, which I don’t mind. He and Cerberus rarely meet and this is a special time for them. He chuckles. Damn! This mind reading trick does annoy me at times.

No sleep for the wicked tonight. We sit around the camp fire and eat dinner, except for Azrael. His nourishment is, well, not sure what he eats and drinks. He looks at me with a wicked gleam in his eyes and mouths “smoothies”. How can I respond to that? This is a moment I’ll treasure, for the companionship, laughter, and silences.

The Sun rises and our merry band of explorers continues on the last leg of the journey to Mordor, sorry, I mean Hades. The landscape becomes even drier and the skies are bathed in a peculiar orange light.  A huge cavern appears in the distance, this is it folks. I glance over at Cerberus, his three pairs of eyes mist up at the scene. Homesickness. I wonder what his cousin Cyril looks like? The van is parked near the cavern mouth and we make our way slowly into the depths. The tunnel is wide enough to avoid being claustrophobic thankfully. There is illumination provided by torches lining the tunnel, which is a little strange. My companions don’t question this, so I take their lead. The presence of dread is absent, for our journey is one where there is a return, an ascent into Light again. I mutter a prayer silently, for myself and she who bids farewell to this life. She shall face Persephone and Hades beyond the waters of Lethe, but I won’t be sipping its waters.

The three heads of Cerberus rise eagerly and give out an ear-splitting cry, but I’ve come forewarned and already inserted the earplugs. There’s an answering howl and a large Blue Roan Spaniel rushes out of the gloom and greets Cerberus. This is cousin Cyril. A Spaniel guarding the gates of the Underworld, why not? Cerberus and Cyril remain at the gates, to prevent the “inmates” from escaping they say. What jokers they are…

Our obols are ready for Charon the Ferryman, all we’re waiting for now are the priests of Hermes to accompany the deceased as we can’t go any further. She’s anointed with perfumed oils and dressed in a linen shroud. Obols are placed on her eyelids. I kiss her forehead and offer a blessing for the journey ahead. A blue lotus and heart scarab are placed on her chest, a remembrance of the homeland. She’s entitled to that at least. Our priests arrive with a bier and place her on it. We hand the obols to the priests as Charon approaches in his boat. So the journey begins and ends here. How prosaic it sounds!

The living have no reason to linger in these dread halls, so it’s time for me to leave. The smell of decay and forgetfulness linger in our minds. How I yearn for fresh air and sunlight to banish the stench of death! My wish is granted as we soon pass the two canine guardians and emerge into a changed landscape. The ominous light has disappeared to be replaced by bright, sunny skies. The desert is blooming and the road is rather busy. Dylan starts up immediately and we speed off towards the horizon. Home is a welcome sight as we emerge through the portal into Llangollen. By now a huge number of crows have massed in the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran, witness to our emergence. I’m looking forward to having a relaxing holiday, my companions are in agreement and we head down south to get the ferry from Dover to the continent. A holiday in Greece beckons! Suitably disguised we sit out on the hotel terrace watching the sun set into the ocean. Bliss.

[1] Campbell, J. The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Princeton University Press, 2004), “Part One, The Adventure of the Hero, Departure: Call to Adventure”, Chapter I, 46-47.

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Image: photo credit: DCphotography_ Tracy Chan-137 via photopin (license)

What are You Seeking?

Image: Pixabay

We are what you name Watchers. You may ask what our purpose is and we will answer, “Watching you”. There are others less benevolent and these you must watch for humanity. You are gifted with free will, and as such we cannot interfere unless you seek our help.

Why tell you this? Our tale is one that does not end happily, at least for one of your kind. He straddled the Light and Dark, consumed by desires that condemned, and ultimately destroyed him. The vestiges of humanity vanished from his soul as did the lifeblood from his veins.

The bridge between conscious action and blind instinct is a narrow one. He fell, rushed headlong into the abyss. We counselled him but he did not listen. Even though he called us. Such hubris!

An ancient evil heard his cries, opened the gates of no return. She seduced, played him like a lyre, brought forth sweet, sweet music. Then, she feasted upon this prize. For an eternity they lay upon cobwebs and veils of Shadow. Pleasure upon pleasure both sought and received. Such deception she rained upon him until the moment of annihilation.

It was done. We were too late. Another soul was obliterated from memory, imprisoned in her vaults of terror. This is his tale:

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Image: Pixabay

I asks what he’s seeking. He pauses, giving much thought before answering. Eternal Life, regeneration, passion, love, and perhaps even power. 

I read his thoughts, seeking the truth of intentions. What he desires to embrace is total and utter annihilation of selfhood and existence. How little he understands the path being sought.

This human is intoxicated with the concept of life eternal, but sees little else beyond the shadows and nullifying emotions. The ones who look for the vaulted mansions of the undead come away with only dust filled minds. 

The red and black contain a myriad of mysteries. Yin and Yang, blood, power, life, and death. These are the mysteries he seeks but has little understanding of. Those who pass beyond the shrouded doorway are blessed indeed. They see past veils of illusion, into worlds glimpsed in dreams and nightmares. 

What strong limbs you have sweet one, and skin of honey. How his hunger gnaws away at manhood and mind. Soft breath, such soft breath. Dear, dear human! Should I admire your temerity in even approaching the gates of my temple? We watched your birth humanity, and cursed the day you drew breath.

To enter into the darkness is folly I tell him, but does he listen? No, he is beyond redemption. This I expected. What a distraction he will be.

‘Kiss me’ I cajole him. How easily he succumbs, pliant like clay in my hands. His lifeblood races through veins, flesh and bone. It calls to me, sings to me. 

Your scent intoxicates me, it calls to mind incense offered in my temples. Night blooming Hellebore, sandalwood, cedar, and opium poppies. See how he murmurs, yields to my ministrations.

The sun shall not rise for you again dear human. This is the twilight of your existence. The light fades soon from his green eyes, gone, gone. He sleeps now.

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Image: Pixabay

Is this the end you ask? Not quite. In the depths of his despair did he call out one last time to us and we readily answered. Do not be quick to mock, thinking our words reflect mere sentimentality and wishful thinking. The most precious part of this doomed soul we saved. His tiny spark we gathered in love, for the ancient one could do little to stop us. So did the hellish gates of her temple close, until the next time Nameless One. We wait and watch. So, what are YOU seeking?

Lyn Baylis: Life and Work of a Priestess, Minister and Psychopomp

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Image: Lyn Baylis, Chris Brock Photography

I’m rather excited about hosting my very first guest post. Lyn Baylis is a dear friend who has kindly accepted my request to write a piece about her work. You might say both of us have walked the mysterious path of the Psychopomp and serve the myriad faces of the god of Death, Anubis being one. Although Lyn’s work and service to the community involves much more. Lyn can be contacted at the email given at the end of the post if you have any questions.

Part 1

Introduction

My name is Lyn Baylis and I have been a Priestess for 40 years. My other roles under that umbrella involve being a LifeRites Minister (spanning over 20 years) and a Pagan Hospital and Hospice Chaplain.

I follow a broadly nature based spirituality, within which diversity is celebrated in all its colours as well as the ethic of equality. My belief in a single divine creative source also encompasses a belief in Gaia the Earth Mother, the Old Ones and spirits of nature. We are all bound together by the essence which we call spirit, the divine spark is within all beings. The life force is present within all. It is an energy which pulsates around us but cannot be seen, yet we know it to be real. It is omnipresent.

The energies of nature are consummately obvious when looked at in the context of the phases of the moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, and the cyclic nature of the seasons.  They are in the air, in the wind, in fire, in water, in trees, in the rocks and beneath the earth, in crashing roaring things, and in what the Irish call a soft day.  They are in all things and everywhere.

Each day I meditate as a means to focus before tuning into the energies that flow throughout the Universe.  It is very simple but takes time and effort.  I do not consider myself special, just a part of a worldwide community who are committed to guardianship of the earth and our fellow travellers.  My work is undertaken in the knowledge that whatever is done to others, will (if in a different fashion) be returned to me. Accordingly, these powers will not be used for evil. Those that operate in such a manner will flourish for a while but will over time be diminished as individuals.

Regarding my work, the aim is to serve the needs of the wider community while respecting the individual’s spiritual beliefs, culture and lifestyle choices without judgment. LifeRites allows me to work with many differing religious beliefs; often writing and officiating at Naming, Handfasting and Funeral ceremonies which embrace and include more than one faith. My work involves facilitating workshops to enable people to plan funerals in their own way.

I also believe that in our culture Funeral Poverty is not only a financial problem but encompasses culture, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives. Funeral ceremonies can be so much more than what we have been used to. They can be written in a way that will meet the requirements and needs of the clients, not the ego of the priest, minister or celebrant.   Since becoming a member of the Brighton Death Forum I find myself facilitating more and more workshops in an effort to dispel the myths and taboos around death. The hope is that people will no longer view this subject with fear and therefore talk openly with their family, friends and even complete strangers without feeling embarrassed.

Part 2

Home Funerals: A Grandmother’s View

Did you know that family led funerals with limited input from funeral directors or even entirely without funeral directors are totally safe and legal?

 In working families, even as late as the 1900s, home funerals were what happened when someone died. They weren’t something special. It was just what was done in every family.

My Grandmother cared for her family and extended family when they were alive, when they were dying and when they were dead.  She was the village midwife, so not only did she bring new life into the world, she made sure that those leaving it were shown due respect and treated with honour and love.  Laying out the dead and performing the last offices for them, was to her, not only a sacred rite, but a labour of love.

The move to hide death away started with the moneyed gentry towards the end of the 17C. Until then, even for the wealthy, death was just a part of life, with most families losing at least one of their children to illness.  However, if you view tombstones from the 18C onwards, the stark statements are transferred into gentle metaphors. Sentiments such as “Here lies Fred, he is dead” cease to be visible and instead, tombstones talk of someone “sleeping with the angels” or being “gathered into God’s arms.”

With the death of Queen Victoria’s beloved Albert, rituals around death became more and more formalised.  The care of the deceased followed prescribed patterns; even the behaviour for those in mourning was formalised.  The ensuing funeral arrangements were totally removed from the family and summarily placed behind closed doors, where the dead were painted, rouged and plumped up before being wheeled out for photos (with or without the family) or death’s head masks.  Then they were locked away again and packed firmly in their coffin, jaws bound and limbs tied tightly together in case they should make a noise that would distress the relatives on their final journey or when they were lowered into the ground.

These social taboos around death slowly seeped into the mind-set of the general population.  Death, which had once been accepted as just another part of life, eventually become hidden behind the closed doors of the funeral parlour, only spoken of in reverential tones or whispers. Even today, people are a little bit in awe of the funeral director and this, together with the numbness grief often brings, can cause them to accept  any arrangements suggested to them, pick expensive coffins , or settle for funeral arrangements that will cause them social, cultural or financial distress, accepting any date they are given for burial or the cremation. They forget that the funeral director is there to help them, to provide a service, and that it is they who are ultimately in charge of what happens.

We the baby boomers of the 40s fought for the right to give birth at home, a right enjoyed by many mothers around the world now.  We have reached an age when our parents and others that we love are dying, and we do not want to just hand them over to some faceless funeral director however professional, nice or kind they may be.

We wish to make sure that our loved ones, and ultimately ourselves (when our time comes), will be looked after in death and afterwards by people who know us, love us and will care for us at the end the way we would like to be cared for.  We wish to hold vigils where we can say goodbye to our own with the rest of the family and friends in our own homes, not some faceless funeral parlour. To honour them with our rituals and talk to them while we organise the funeral, sourcing, making, or painting the coffin, and decorating it in a way our loved ones would approve.   We want to hold a wake as in the old days, raise a glass, share the old stories and spend time with those we love before we eventually lay them to rest in a celebration of their lives, not with an impersonal, remote ritual which often seems to be staged to be the ultimate separation from our loved ones.

I and others who feel the same will continue with this battle because it is ultimately for ourselves. It is, however, wonderful to see that more and more people are becoming aware that they do have options when it comes to caring for their dead.  They can use a funeral director to organise the funeral, or get involved and direct the funeral service making considered decisions, or have a home funeral if they so wish.

My aims are to let people know about their options, to assure them that family led or home funerals are legal and achievable (with or without help) if that is what they wish, and to remind people that they have choices. My hope is that, in some small way, I can empower families to do whatever it is they wish to do for their loved ones at the end of life.

For some, when they think of home funerals, the main drive is to offset the ever-increasing costs, but for many more, they wish to take control of a ceremony they find removed from them, depressing, morbid and not in any way uplifting. They wish to reflect the spirituality of their loved ones, treating them with honour, respect and love, making all actions sacred as the loved one dies and to continue this heart led care whether it is in person until they reach their final resting place, or in spirit walking with them towards the other realm.

Organising part or all of a funeral does make you aware of the reality of death, yes. You see the person you loved dead, but with a good death comes a serenity and peacefulness that is wonderful to witness, and this revelation can assist the grieving process and be a very healing experience. Therefore, if anyone wishes to participate in any way, or lead their own end of-life rites and rituals then I will help with advice and assistance if I can or alternatively put them in touch with someone else who can.

For those of you who believe you would find it difficult to have a body at home, and do not wish to even think of doing this, I do understand. When we talk about the dead, it is often the images we see on the TV or in films which are paramount in our thoughts, complete with dreadful smells and a decomposing corpse, but in actuality, that is generally not the case.

When we look at other cultures around the world, there are many whose death rituals are based around keeping a loved one at home for three days or three nights. It is only our distance from death these days and the fears that are triggered by these images that highlight the problems. In addition, with the help of air conditioning or ice packs, we can keep a body at home for a week if necessary, so three days generally will cause no problem.

However, if your loved one died in hospital or in a hospice, as long as you haven’t appointed a Funeral Director they will generally keep hold of them until you can collect them from there to take them to the crematorium or to the burial ground.  These same facilities can sometimes be used if the deceased has to be kept for some time, e.g. a son/daughter has to travel from abroad to say their goodbyes.  if your loved one dies at home, some modern funeral directors will work with you, while some green burial grounds have facilities to keep the body, or you can call upon an *End of Life Transition/Threshold Guide to help you.

If you belong to a spirituality which sees death as a rite of passage, then this usually begins with laying out your loved one after death.  Washing them, combing their hair, anointing them and placing them in the clothes they wished for their final journey.  Whether you are family, a friend or someone who has been called in to help. I can assure you (being a Grandmother myself now) laying out someone is a service of love and one which I always feel privileged to perform.

If you are leading a private celebration of the deceased’s life as part of a rite of passage, then first identify what it was the deceased achieved in life.  It could be a major thing or something they might not themselves have classed as an achievement, e.g. bringing up a family. Honour their achievements, whatever they were, and understand their passions, their hopes and dreams.  Open sacred space. (If you are helping a family that is not your own always ask them how the deceased would have done this.)  Work with other members of the family to get them involved choosing, prayers, poems, and songs that express the deceased’s journey through life, get them to tell the stories that they love and want passed down to the family, share photos, etc.

The decoration of the coffin can have its own place in these celebrations, whether it is weaving flowers into a willow coffin, painting or pasting photos onto a cardboard coffin or choosing a more conventional coffin and the items to be placed in or on it. You are only restricted by your imagination – and the practical requirements of the burial ground or crematorium.

If it is to be a spiritual ceremony, then call upon the deities/spirits that were significant to the deceased and mark a sacred space where you can hold the ritual and invite those with whom the deceased wished to share this special time. Many spiritualities believe that the spirits do not begin their journey for a while after they seem to have gone, e.g. some open the window to let the soul fly out. Whatever their ways, find out beforehand; if it’s family then, of course, you will already know.

When taking your loved one to their final resting place, you can use an estate or a van, as long as the body is covered it really is not disrespectful.  Getting friends and family to gently lift and carry the coffin into the crematorium or to the graveside feels somehow more natural, personal and meaningful to me. If you do not feel that you will be able to speak, then you can always hire a celebrant who will understand and honour the spirituality of your loved one and the family.

If you decide to have a home funeral and venture down this road, I promise you will find it a rewarding, moving and deeply transforming experience.

* this is the name agreed by the National Home Funeral Alliance in the USA to cover End of life Midwives, Soul Midwives, Death Doulas, Home Funeral Guides and any group or person who works with the dying before, during and after death.

For further information on Family led Funerals or how to train to be a Transition /Threshold Guide contact: lyndelune@sky.com

Immortality: The Alchemist’s Daughter Recollects

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Image: Pixabay

Achieving immortality has been an enduring goal for legion upon legion of humans over the centuries. Tomes have been written hinting at the existence of wondrous elixirs and arcane rituals giving/offering the chance of eternal life and youth. To what end we may speculate, perhaps to abate our fear of dying, perhaps to prolong our contemplation of matters philosophical and metaphysical. Ultimately the real reason may only be known to the individual engaged in such a pursuit. Immortality is a fable retold century after century, our passion for it undiminished, our longing unquenched. We are born, live and die, a simplistic viewpoint of our existence on this material plane. Yet, there is so much that lies before us. At what point do we lose our sense of wonder about the Universe and our place in it? Continue reading

Coming into Being: Waiting at the Threshold

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Image: Pixabay

It’s been months seen we last faced each other. No, not quite true. Each morning I greet one aspect of him guarding our porch and again on return in the evening. The statuette sits on the window ledge, as did a previous form, a gentler persona this time. His Nibs (or Anubis) as I affectionately call him, has seen me through calm and turbulent times over the years. I’ve occasionally neglected our association and focussed on other matters. Perhaps I wasn’t ready at those times to see his true message. The gods choose us rather than we choose them. This much I now understand. Continue reading

Orpheus Ascended: Spirit of Memory

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Image: Pixabay

Deep in thought is the green eyed god, brow furrowed and eyes distant. Tormented by past, present and future. Orpheus knows not what path to follow, what choices to make. A decision must be made, his duty, not mine. He called us but denial stares back at us. How we delude ourselves when fate does not comply with our deepest most treasured desire. The same pattern, again and again. His heart still bleeds, still hurts, but wallowing in the swamp of misery and grief serves none. Eurydice is beyond our reach, descended into regions distant and unknowable. She has gained gnosis of a kind that the living cannot, should not be privy to until ready. My sisters and I are Physical Being, Soul and Spirit. The Trinity are we of your Soul oh humanity. The hidden Essence of your very existence. Continue reading

Sing to Me of Yearning and Loss: Spirit of Love

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Image: Pixabay

 “Sing to me of yearning and loss. Bring my heart to life. Let me feel the passion of her kiss and agony of her death” he commands. Yet, does he want to be reminded of his loss?

The musicians stare at the archaic god, one whose voice and musicianship have bowed even the heads of the infernal deities in Hades. Once his eyes bore the light of stars but now are touched with deep shadows that tell of ordeal and tribulation. Despite the kiss of deep sorrow he still bears an unearthly beauty. Mighty king of Thrace, blessed with gifts beyond measure to calm even the mightiest storm. How can they refuse such an honour? They are no strangers to the Orphic Mysteries and it is no accident great Orpheus has come upon this place. Continue reading

Cosmic Fire

May your eyes go to the sun, your life’s breath to the wind. Go to the sky or to earth, as is your nature; or go to the waters, if that is your fate. Take root in the plants with your limbs.
Death, v 3, The Rig Veda

I stare at Unut, She who was once Snake is now Hare. It seems my totem animal is still with me after all these years; remaining not visible yet very much present. Returning to the point of origin has its drawbacks. It raises unsettling questions within the mind as thoughts of life and death walk past. Djehuty intended us to meet and I now understand why. This story is important for me and must be savoured at leisure. As so many have reiterated, life and death are cyclical in nature. Accepting our mortality and that of loved ones can be a truly difficult fact to accept. The notion of impermanence has been debated at great length throughout the ages. This is not set to change soon. Existence is in continual flux, ebbing and flowing like waves upon the seashore. Humanity and perhaps even the ancient ones must find the path back to equilibrium and acceptance. Is it heresy to make mention of this? I sense we have lost our way a little.

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The Hare Goddess remains silent, an unreadable expression on her face. She asks whether this is what is really bothering me. I shake my head and mutter ‘stasis.’ Contrary to appearances I am not one who is unable to face the greater issues of existence. Certain changes have occurred recently, ones initiating much inner turmoil. Witnessing the creation of Life and the Universe takes its toll. Being in such close proximity to the Eight has changed me. The Self is currently in its death throes, holding on to concepts rather than people. The time has come for the old to die and rebirth to occur. My grip is tight, unable to let go. She touches my hands gently; warmth and reassurance flow from her. One by one she unfurls my fingers until what remains are open hands. Shadows flow from them; it is the remnants of who I once was.

Unut leads me beyond the boundaries of Khmunu and into a different reality. Words are unnecessary at this point. We are standing before a gigantic star. It is dying and has been in death throes for millions of years. I am mesmerised, my mind feels the depth of its sadness and pain. Being an Empath can be a burden. The star’s heart breathes in and out, its life force flowing outwards towards oblivion. We are here to stand vigil over the dying, to ease its passing. There are others who join us, encircling the giant. Rhiannon stands beside me, as does Inanna on the other side. The star is kin to us all as we are made of stardust. We grieve for them as appropriate and perform ancient ancestral rites for their transition. Cosmic Fire fills my sight once more; it pierces the veils between the worlds. The heart of the giant beats slowly and sonorously; now and again it becomes irregular in rhythm. Hardened has it become and intense in heat now. We offer them love and our silence. Time and space shift and shift again. The star’s flesh falls away and its heart is exposed, appearing vulnerable and fragile. Its life force begins to glow brighter, becoming incandescent.

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Image: Pixabay

A song of sorrow echoes throughout space, spiralling around us. We mourn, we mourn for a soul that is passing beyond the gates of existence. The star recounts its journey from birth to now; its voice faint but filled with unexpected hope. Existence for them can be counted in billions of years. We are but a tiny speck in the great sea of time! I ask them for a name, they whisper it and wait for my answer. I offer them a blessing from the depths of my heart. Their light fades gradually, finally extinguished but not destroyed. Its atoms have dispersed awaiting rebirth. I can sense the essence of the star, it feels vital and incandescent in the darkness of the Void. Unut raises her hands in blessing and draws a veil across the waiting life potential.

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Image: Pixabay

We stare across the expanse of the heavens. The song of many echoes throughout the vastness. Their tales are ones I shall value much. It will be an honour to keep them safe for all eternity. The Imperishable Stars have much to teach us, but it is not my place to reveal such stories now. Not due to vows of secrecy but because I do not truly understand. The Hare Goddess tells me that they shall speak to me in my dreams. ‘Take heed’ she says. Indeed I shall.

(For the rest of the Storyteller’s journey please see my other blog Dispatches from the Hinterland).