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deathwork, Witchy

A Prayer Upon Learning of a Death

In September, I helped a friend build a toolkit to prepare for the death of a family member that they wouldn’t be able to be physically present for. That toolkit included a prayer to offer upon first learning of the death. In this time when so many of us will experience that same physically isolated loss, I thought it might be helpful to others, and my friend graciously agreed to let me share it.

In a time when we are barred from many of the conventional rituals of death, spontaneity and organic growth of ritual can be the best way to go – individualized rituals of the heart that truly reflect who your beloved was and who you are. But I find that in that moment when you first hear that someone close to you has died, a shocked numbness often descends. You know you want to do something, but your brain can’t quite get together the what. Having a set prayer or action you can call on every time helps your voice and body keep moving while your brain catches up. If your religion or culture doesn’t have something like this, I humbly invite you to use these words.

A Prayer Upon Learning of a Death

[NAME], I honor the body that you were
The words you spoke
The passions that moved you
The love you shared
The life you lived.

These were not always easy to live
Or to live with
But they were always you,
And I honor you in that wholeness.

I grieve that you are no longer a living presence in my life
I regret that I could not be with you at the end
I allow myself to hurt and to heal
Whatever form that takes
However long it takes

Whole and holy Earth, take back the body of [NAME] that was formed from you
Make new forms and lives from it
May a piece of [NAME]’s life infuse the new lives that grow from it. 
May the passing forms of this life and the tears of our grief sustain the web of your creation.

Blessed be

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2021

Hey, happy New Year, everyone!

Here’s your gentle reminder that 2021 isn’t some hero riding in to save us. January 1, 2021, won’t be magically different from December 31, 2020. Hell, December 31, 2021, won’t be magically different from December 31, 2020. We have to make it different.

So let’s make 2021 better. Let’s keep staying home when we can and wearing masks when we can’t. Let’s get vaccinated when we have the chance. Let’s keep working to dismantle systems of violence and oppression. Let’s keep being kind to each other, and ourselves, and this beautiful and sacred living planet.

It’s 2021. Let’s roll.

Image by Markéta Machová from Pixabay.

Witchy

Good King Wenceslas

Hello again, all! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate and just a lovely Friday if you don’t. I know it’s been a fair weirder winter holiday season than many of us have ever experienced. I hope you’ve all found ways to still find meaningful connection with what matters to us – family, faith, nature, self – even when it looked totally different than it has in years past.

Here’s our last winter holiday song of 2020, “Good King Wenceslas.” I’m posting it today because 1) I figured a lot of folks wouldn’t be internetting much yesterday; and 2) Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen, which turns out to mean St. Stephen’s Day, which turns out to be December 26th.

This way to the Wenceslas!

And so we come to the end of our holiday music journey together for the year. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Please consider leaving a comment to let me know! I know that one lone Pagan naturalist with a recorder is insufficient substitute for all the holiday concerts that had to be canceled this year, but I hope I’ve at least brought a little fun into your month. Stay safe, stay hopeful. I’ll probably do this again next year, even if we’ve all emerged by then into the sunlight of a new post-COVID reality. There are plenty more holiday songs where these came from!

Much love for a brighter and more just 2021,

-Eli

Other posts in this series

Photo from engraving by Brothers Dalziel, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Witchy

Winter Solstice 2020: Interdependence

One thing I don’t hear talked about much in Pagan circles is that sometimes you can plan the best ritual, and then it just… falls flat, either for you or for others attending. It’s seldom your fault (or at least, it’s seldom entirely your fault), but it still sucks.

And it’s okay anyway.

I’d been looking forward to Leora and my Winter Solstice ritual for weeks. The concept was simple: for 24 hours (from just before sunset Sunday to just after sunset Monday), we would have a ritual retreat day of rest and reflection. It called back to the spiritual retreat days that Leora and I used to do several times a year back in the day, and gave us a time to honor the quiet contemplativeness of the longest night of the year.

That is exactly what we did. And I was miserable.

Continue reading “Winter Solstice 2020: Interdependence”
Witchy

The Holly and the Ivy

The Winter Solstice is tomorrow! Yay! Leora and I will be celebrating in epic fashion, which I’ll be writing about here later. In the meantime, here’s a song!

By next year, I hope to have learned a real Winter Solstice song. For now, we’ll make do with “The Holly and the Ivy,” the most Pagan Christmas carol I know how to play. I mean, have you looked at the opening lyrics?

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown

O, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir

Yeah, sure, there’s bits after that about Mary bearing sweet Jesus Christ. But… “the rising of the sun and the running of the deer”? “The holly bears the crown”? That’s feels like straight-up nature reverence, y’all. Like, yes, yes, we love Mary and Jesus – but have you seen that holly berry, as red as any blood?

“The Holly and the Ivy” puts me in mind of those quaint, remote English villages someone’s often stumbling across in cozy mysteries, where Paganism and Christianity exist inextricably – if not always comfortably – together. It’s a metaphor for something, I’m sure.

Blessed Solstice, all!

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Photo by Rick Barrett of Ambitious Creative Co., via Unsplash.

Photo by Valentina Pescape' on Unsplash
Witchy

Little Drummer Boy

Something about “Little Drummer Boy” makes it super easy for even a novice to play with gravitas. Also, it turns out to be a carol my lovely spouse likes, so it’s a win-win.

Fun factoid: no one really knows the background of this carol. It was written as “Carol of the Drum” by American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941 and first recorded in 1951 by the Trapp Family Singers (yes, those Trapp Family Singers). But was it based on traditional Czech lullaby carol “Hajej, nynjej” or the 18th-century Burgundian carol “Pat-a-pan“? No one knows! It’s a mystery for the ages. If… the ages are interested in things like that.

Anyhoo… here’s the song! O rather… here’s a link to the song, because now WordPress won’t let me add it. Butts.

Happy listening! Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

Other posts in this series

Photo by Valentina Pescape’ via Unsplash