Death has never been very far from me. My parents never sheltered me from what death was, and from an early age I knew grief, I knew loss and I had seen the bones of beloved pets.
When my Father died I started to learn more about necromancy and how to work with the dead. I was sn amateur at best but with Anubis at my side I began to develop an ancestral practice.
My Ouma had been sick for a long time and was deteriorating rapidly, when she died, it was almost a relief knowing she would no longer be in pain. I wish I had been more attentive to her while she was still alive. I did not wish to confront my own feelings about dying, sickness and mortality at the time, however, and often feel I failed her. She was very dear to me, and along with my mother, taught me about gardening.
This is when Hekate started baying in my dreams like a hound. I was often left terrified upon waking, cold sweats and racing heart, until I decided to invoke her and find out why she was being so persistent.
She and Anubis led me down the path I’m currently on. Perhaps, being a sickly child, near death with pneumonia and the loss of so many of my beloved spurred it on as well.
Death is inextricably linked with life. Dying is a process that happens the moment that we are born. Our bodies are undergoing continuous processes of decay, death and rebirth as each cell in our bodies dies to be renewed. Every day lived; every breath taken is a step closer to death.
I am very much attracted to and followed around by deathly beings- the chthonic, the otherwordly, the liminal.
Anubis is a god of the dead, and presides over the process of mummification and embalming. He is a psychopomp, a god that guides the dead to their destination. He is the knower of all truths and knowledge of the world and is with me every moment as my guide.
Hekate is an ancient witch goddess with three faces. She presides over the three-way crossroads and is also a psychopomp. She is a midwife Goddess, the Goddess of Witchcraft. She is the knower of the Great Mysteries and is the Ensouler of the world.
They teach me the mysteries of transition, change and death. They show me that death is not to be feared but to be accepted as an intimate part of life.
Death, in Western culture, is scorned, looked upon as something to be hidden. Dead bodies are filled with noxious poisons which seep into the earth, just so that bodies may look asleep but alive. We deny death at the same time as we fill the earth with the senseless deaths of thousands of slaughtered animals, and we look away when we see our aging faces in the mirror, or the aging faces of our loved ones.
But Death will always come, what lives must die, the grain must fall and the flesh must rot, for this is the natural cycle.
Image-“Heliconidae: Heliconius”by Jo Whaley from “The Theater of Insects”
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