Life and Death are forces which preside over every thing in the Universe. Everything that lives must die, and in turn the Dead give rise to life and the nourishment of the living.
Graveyards are the crossroads between the lands of the living and the dead, and it is with the energies of the grave and the liminal energy found within that I first entered into the magic of Death. Graveyards are peaceful, and sometimes sorrowful places which hold incredible potency.
Visiting a graveyard and leaving flowers for those who have passed, is the most common form of ancestral veneration within the Western world. When one enters a grave it is customary to ask permission of the Spirits who reside within and to leave an offering of flowers, coins or alcohol when one leaves. This ensures that your visit to the Necropolis is respectful and peaceful.
Graveyard dirt is often used in Necromancy and spellwork, within both modern witchcraft practice and folk traditions like Hoodoo. When collecting dirt it is important to seek permission from the spirit of the person whose grave you will be taking from. When done collecting an offering needs to be made in return.
In Mexico, The Day of the Dead ( Dia de Los Meurtos) celebrations happen in and around graveyards. It is customary for families to picnic in the graveyard near the tombs and gravestones of their departed loved ones, Altars are set up venerating ancestral spirits.
Western culture, particularly modern western culture, fears the graveyard, they are places of ghouls and “black magic” and “da voodoo.” This is a gross exaggeration of death magic. Many people in Western culture however do visit graveyards in reverence of the dead, to gain closure and to converse with their loved ones. This common practice is not looked upon as strange when one is still in the grieving process, and many people can understand this.
I often use a red candle and a black candle as altar candles. Red is the blood, the life, the power of movement and fire. The Black candle is the candle of the abyss, of darkness, of death, of the ground which many will be buried in, or black ash that we may become. When these two candles are lit, I stand in between them. I stand in the shadow realm, one foot in the realm of the living, one in the realm of the dead. I am the hedge riding witch who operates in an ultimate crossroads. This space is the space of Crow, snake, butterfly, Anpu and Hekate. All of them operate in these realms, as Psychopomps.
This is the place where I feel that I can access my magical self the best when indoors at night. Other places of course would be at a crossroads, a graveyard or in nature.
Memento Mori are objects which remind us of death, so that we may have a better grip on life. They were often used by Christians in the times of the Byzantines and Middle Ages. In modern times these can be anything from skulls, to bats, snakes, grim reapers, colours of death like black or white, ankhs, spiders, or anything that reminds you of your own mortality.
Samhain is a festival close to my heart, being both a harvest festival, where the dead are sacrificed for the living, as well as an ancetral link to my own Celtic heritage.
Honouring the dying moon is another way of honouring death. The waning moon is a perfect time to be letting go of things, dying, so that one can be reborn. This often takes the form of simple spells to get rid of qualities and things that are no longer serving me or could simply take the form of communicating with the shadow self.
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