Margot Adler died.
The news, as with many things, brings on a flood of emotions. Stirring thoughts walk in wanting to take up a bit of awareness before they transition back to the source from whence they came.
Elders and early shakers and movers of this community have died before, in fact all are destined to, but this particular death strikes a particular chord in this moment of awareness that reverberates across the spectrum of memory to an earlier time. From the depths of the well of memory, I stand before my Dad’s bookshelf deciding on which book to read to learn more and settle on a dusty tomb… I am at circle waiting for ritual to start and in conversation with the Priestess I mentioned starting to read “Drawing Down of the Moon” and discussing different aspects she points out… I am sitting on my bed flipping from index to page number as I look for specific information… I stare hypostatized at the cover, drawn inward… I stand with my feet in a stream… I contemplate the metaphysics of magick… I remember… there and here unite in this moment.
As many of you know, I am a second generation Contemporary Pagan. Whereas my introduction to our Craft came via my Dad taking me to the Church of Rhiannon, it was through his books that I got to know my own place in it at the time. “Drawing Down of the Moon” was one of those books. As a result of this, the death of this Elder touches upon those memories and evokes emotions that cry out for a perceived personal lose. Looking closely I can see that the sense of loss is the vehicle for something more, something vastly more encompassing. These emotions carry forth a sense of the entirety of my Pagan youth and the connection therewith, they carry gratitude to this person whom I never met that shaped much of the core of what followed, and they carry an understanding of the inevitable truth that even in this moment shapes the dance.
In this moment, her initiation into the Halls of the Mighty Dead echoes a shadow of the mystery received. Death, it is here. It is now. It is both universal and intimately personal. It is a point upon the Wheel that often draws pain and suffering up in the hearts of those that long for the Initiated Dead. This is a transformative experience, a crucible, whereby the Initiated Dead reach back across the veil as teachers. If we allow them, they will rip the curtain of illusion away in a moment of transcendence and immanence revealing a taste of the eternal.
Even in death, our Elders teach on. They are our Mighty Dead. They are our Ancestors of Spirit.
I would like to share a simple rite of offerings and communion with the journey of the Host of the Mighty Dead. On one hand it is an offering unto an Ancestor of Spirit and their journey, on the other hand it is an offering of our own journey, but at the crossroads where the two meet it is an offering uniting all incarnations that have, will, or are permeating the Wheel.
Rite of the Ancestor Wheel
The following items are needed:
Bottle of Red Wine (not sweet).
Loaf of Bread.
A Bell or similar (rattle, drum, horn, etc).
(Note: Best done outside)
Begin by ringing the Bell once. Then place the Ancestor token on the ground in front of you.
Ring the bell six times.
With the opened bottle of wine and starting in the West begin pouring the wine on the ground around you into a circle so that the ancestor token is the center of the circle (Alternately, if you are inside you can pour the wine into a large vessel, such as a cauldron, while facing the West. Just drop a dime into the vessel right before pouring the wine. This dime is no longer yours, do not reuse or spend, it can be buried at the roots or a tree or tossed into flowing water such as a river.). While pouring either paraphrase or say the following:
“Hail (ancestor’s name), accept this offering of labor and pleasure in honor of your memory throughout time. May it echo unto your past manifestations and energize the lessons and experiences of those lives.”
Continuing pouring around the circle until there is but a few drops remaining. Drink these last few drops and say or paraphrase:
“Echo unto and energize past manifestations.”
Next in the North West of the circle of poured wine (or approximate), place the black candle.
Ring the bell seven times.
Light the candle and say, or paraphrase:
“Hail (ancestor’s name), accept this offering of warmth and light in honor of your memory of this life. May it comfort and guide you in this time of crossing the veil.”
Cup your hands around the candle’s flame, close enough to feel the warmth but not burn. Make sure you can still see the flame. Say:
“Guide and comfort in the turning and cycle of the Wheel.”
Go to the North with the loaf of bread. Ring the bell six times.
Begin to tear small pieces of bread from the loaf and while walking sun-wise around the circle drop the pieces just outside the parameter of the wine circle, creating a second circle of bread pieces (or if inside drop them onto an altar placed in the North specifically for this). While doing this say:
“Hail (ancestor’s name), accept this offering of nourishment and prosperity in honor of your drawing tide. May it echo into your future manifestations and energize the lessons and experiences of those lives.”
Blessed be the Mighty Dead!