Remembering the Dead

From my newsletter this week:

Lipton chicken noodle soup packets, tinned oysters in oil, grated horseradish with beets, instant coffee, mushrooms bubbling in a pot on the stove forever, the always-forgotten-till-the-last-minute cranberry jelly in a can... the foods I remember from childhood holidays leap out at me when I walk through the aisles of the supermarket at this time of year. Is it the season? the weather? the zeitgeist? What motivates this? The Mystery.

Yesterday, CAYA Aspirants visited the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, as part of our annual cycle of activities. It was a powerful event...we brought along ancestral items, sat in circle and shared our stories, and wandered among the halls of urns elaborately designed and articulated to look like a Library. We concluded our day with a Silent Supper in honor of our ancestors. This is all in preparation for our annual Festival of Death & Wisdom, this coming weekend.

When we remember the Dead, what is actually happening?

We are:
-creating an intention to connect with the memories of persons deceased
-through the connections with those memories, we “revive” those deceased persons, at least in our minds, for a time
-with reverent activities we honor the deceased persons
-offering substances, energies, and time to the spirit of that person
-enacting a promise to carry forth that person’s legend or legacy
-strengthening the wisdom, qualities, and other gifts we have that were originally bestowed by that person
-comforting ourselves after loss
-examining the nature of life and death

After yesterday’s Ancestor event, which admittedly left me a bit tearful (in a good way), I found myself stopping by the store to pick up some items for dinner, and all the foods of my grandmothers and grandfathers were there winking at me. I went ahead and picked up some of the Lipton soup packets-- I’m trying to keep a sore throat at bay, anyway. But it got me thinking about how food relates to eternity in the body of the Goddess.

We are, each of us, food in the mill of the Goddess. She bears us from her womb and swallows us again at the end of life, where we become the seed within her belly that grows into new life. She creates us to be entirely unique, then consumes our egos and identities, till nothing is left of us but our names written somewhere, then nowhere. She literally devours her own children, with great love, only to give birth to us again and again.

This does not mean that anything we do while alive is futile. Indeed, recalling our ancestors reminds us that our own actions are not futile at all, they have meaning, even if only to a single tiny watching child. We can be, at once, everything and nothing at all. We are, always, both food for the mill as well as the stuff of stars. We are, as we churn our way through time, the ancestors and the descendants at once--of a single flesh.

This is the Mystery. Even as it is revealed to us, it is obscured. It is self-secret. We can speak of it all night long and dance this Mystery till morning, and still it would only reveal itself to those willing to drink the starlight and revel in the ecstasy of the unknown and unknowing places in between the thighs of the Goddess and her jaws.

Blessings of Death & Wisdom to you.