TREE MAGIC: ENDING ANCESTOR WORK

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

To officially end my Ancestor work, I held a ritual to release the Ancestors back to the Underworld. To do this, I asked the white poplar assist me in this. Since Hercules wore the white poplar when he went to the Underworld, I believed that this tree would be willing to help. (I have a family connection with Hercules.)

On a piece of intention paper, I drew a circle with the Ogham few for the white poplar inside. I regarded this as a shield that would separate me from the Ancestors. Traditionally, the white poplar allows people float above their problems.

I held the ritual during the time the Mundus (Gateway to the Underworld) was opened. During this ritual, I burned the intention paper. As it burned, I asked the white poplar to release the Ancestors from my magic. Then, I asked the Dead to leave and return to the Underworld. Finally, I asked Hercules to guide the Ancestors back to the Underworld. Afterwards I thanked Hercules and the white poplar for their generosity.

Before doing this ritual, I was plagued with strained calves, and was in a great deal of pain. When I released the Ancestors to the care of the Gods, the pain subsided. Apparently, I had been carrying them in my body. So I was able to “float” instead of being held down.

The following is the chant I used:
I ask the White Poplar who crowned the brow of Hercules
I ask in the name of Hercules
I ask the Manes, Lemurs, and Larvae to leave me

I ask for protection
I ask for successful healing
I ask for help in rebirthing

Dear Ancestors
I love You
May you find peace and rest.

I release my Ancestors from my body
I release my sisters from my body
My sisters who died as children

May They be nourished in the Underworld
May They be protected in the Underworld
May They be welcomed in the Underworld

I thank the White Poplar for her help
I thank the White Poplar for her protection

I thank Hercules for his help
I thank Hercules for his protection

I thank that Manes, Lemurs, and Larvae for leaving
I thank that Manes, Lemurs, and Larvae for troubling me not.

I am grateful to the White Poplar
I am grateful to Hercules

May my body be free to hold me
May my body be free to love me
May my body be me

I welcome my body to hold me.
I welcome my body to love me.
I nourish my body for me.

My Travels in the Egyptian Underworld

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Anubis from “The Anubis Oracle”

Two months before my traumatic brain injury (TBI), I met Anubis, the God of the Underworld, during a session with a Norse Seidrworker (Note 1). Anubis introduced Himself to me and one other person. Then during my TBI coma, Anubis came to me and we traveled together through the Underworld. (Of course, I did return to the land of the living.) Since that time, Anubis would show up in my meditations if He needed me to speak to the Newly Dead.

When I go to the Egyptian Underworld, I become a barn swallow (Note 2), a traditional form for the ba (Note 3). Traveling west into the stars of the night, I enter the Body of Nut, the Goddess of the Sky. As I fly, I see the Body of Geb, the God of the Earth, below.

Flying towards the sun, I land on the Solar Barque of Ra, the God of the Sun. As I land, I feel encased in golden yellow. Perching on the bow, I sail with Ra and the Dead through the stars.

Suddenly the Barque plunges into blackness, we have entered a dark cavern. An eerie greenish glow comes from the flaming lakes and rivers. With Ra’s light now a pale yellow, we move slowly through the inky black. The wind has died down, only to be replaced by stifling heat. The only sound is the splashing of the oars of the rowing Dead.

Suddenly Apep (Apophis) lunges at the Barque. Startled, I fly away. Meanwhile, the Dead are beating Apep with their heavy oars. The monster starts to sink slowly back into the watery abyss.

In the strange greenish-yellow light, Anubis appears by my side. Guiding me, the God flies over a dark landscape of silently tramping forms. The march of the Dead goes on for miles, snaking along a dark ribbon of a river. Occasionally, a figure falls down, only to be trodden upon by the rest. A scream penetrates the darkness, and I shiver in fear.

Fires from the river glow blue-green in spots. On one side of the river are dark figures waiting for the ferry to return. Some fall into the water near the yellow eyes of waiting crocodiles. Before any of them can get to the splashing form, Anubis rescues the Dead and carries them away.

Carrying the Newly Dead between us, we head to the Hall of Two Truths. Waiting at the Gate to the Lake of Fire is Hathor, the Great Mother. She takes the frightened Dead and sings to them. I stay with Her, while Anubis returns to the Hall. After comforting the Newly Dead, I return home through Nut’s Body.

One difference between my experience and the known record of the Egyptian Underworld is that Anubis actively saves some of the Dead. Why they are under his protection is a mystery to me. From what I can see, Anubis intently checks on the progress of the Newly Dead.

I expected the Underworld to be pitch black with an occasional glow from the fires. The wide-spread blue-green or yellow-green light seemed odd to me. This light seems to be reflected off of the cavern ceiling. This gave an unreal quality to the shadows and the flickering fires of the rivers.

Since I am among the living, I did not pass the Gate guarded by Hathor. I did not hear or see any of Her Cows. I could hear the screaming baboons, but I did not see them or the snakes, who protect the other Gates.

Finally, the fight between the Dead and Apep on the Solar Barque resembled a kabuki play. Knowing their roles, everyone moved with stylistic ritual movements. Each movement of their bodies seemed infused in meaning. Meanwhile, Ra was curiously inert during the fight rather than fighting for his life. In my perspective, the whole battle was a set piece.

The vision that I experienced had a more orderly feel to the Underworld. There was little or no chaos of the Dead moving hither and yon. Everything seemed to be more static than I expected.

NOTES:
Note 1: In Seidr, the seer travels to Hel to relay messages from the Dead and occasionally a God.

Note 2. In Egyptian paintings, the ba is depicted as a human-headed bird. The bird body is either a stork, vulture or hawk. The Book of the Dead also has the ba transform into a falcon, heron, swallow or mythic benu bird.

Note 3. The Egyptians believed that everyone had nine souls. They are: kha: the body, ka: the living life force, ba: the personality, sekhem: the transfigured life force, khaibit: the shadow, akh: the transfigured soul, sahu: the spiritual body, ib: the heart and ren: the true name of the person.

Flora, Goddess of Flowering Plants

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Flora, an ancient Goddess of the Sabines (and later the Romans) has two festivals in the spring – the Floralia from April 27 to May 3 and the Rosalia on May 23. The blossoms of Flora are welcomed by those who cherish flowers and those who rely on plants for sustenance. Moreover, this Goddess can counteract the fungal diseases, such as rust, that plagues plants.

After appealing to Flora for protection of the crops, Titus Tatius, King of the Sabines, built a temple to Flora, the Goddess of Flowering Plants on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. (He ruled jointly with Romulus, the First King of Rome.) Then after a prolonged drought Numa Pompilius, the Second King of Rome, held festivals in her honor.

For the Floralia, people decorate their homes and themselves with flowers. And, they don colorful clothing to imitate the flowers of spring. In gratitude of spring’s arrival, everyone makes offerings of milk and honey to Flora. On the last day of the festival, the priests would set loose hares and goats. They also would throw lupines, lentils and beans to celebrate the renewed fertility of the season.

During May, the month of the Dead, the Rosalia is held. Traditionally, Romans would place roses on graves. Today the custom is still to put roses on the graves of family members. Along with violets, these flowers represented life and death. As Ovid wrote in his “Fasti,” Flora generates flowers from the blood of the Dead. “Through me glory springs from their wound.”

Salve Flora Mater!
Goddess who blesses
The flowers
The plants
We greet You with color

Salve Flora Mater!
You gladden our hearts
We offer You
Milk and honey

Salve Flora Mater!
With roses and violets
We honor our Dead
From You comes rebirth

Monotheistic Filter: War on the Dead

In the Polytheist world, the Dead are not ectoplasms or phantoms. They have form and substance and physically interact with the living. People make sacrifices to the Dead for protection, guidance, and favors. As Ancestors, They stay and guide the family. They can also become Spirits of Place, Home, the Unquiet Dead or the Harmful Dead. Since the Dead link the living with the Gods, They are feared, honored and placated.

The Christian Church actively made war on the Polytheistic veneration of the Dead. Moreover, the Church redefined who the Dead were and the relationship of the living to Them. In the dichotomy set up by Christianity, the Dead who were saved went to Heaven, those who were not went to Hell. To explain Revenants, the Church invented Purgatory. Instead of Heaven or Hell, some Dead ended up in limbo, which is Purgatory.

Under Christianity, the Dead became souls undergoing punishment for their sins. They were now dependent on the living, who said Masses for them, gave alms in their name, and prayed for Them. The relationship between the living and the Dead was now reversed.

In its war, the Church successfully desacralized the Dead. Attacking Polytheistic beliefs, Augustine and Gregory the Great said that the Dead were only dreams. Other theologians reasoned that They were animated by angels or demons. Lacking substance, The Dead turned into ghosts, which only exist in people’s minds.

Furthermore, the Church redefined the concept of “soul.” In Polytheism, people have multiple souls. One soul dies with the body, and another one survives to form its own body. The Romans have the genius, renamed by Christians as the Guardian Angel. Meanwhile, the animus, which is the dynamic force of personality, exists outside of the body. Merging all the souls into one entity, Christianity said when the body dies, the soul merges with God, thereby dismissing the existence of Revenants.

Further Reading:

Adkins, Lesley and Roy Adkins, “Dictionary of Roman Religion.” New York: Oxford University Press. 1996.

Black, Jeremy and Anthony Green, “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia.” Austin: University of Texas Press. 2014.

Filan, Kenaz and Raven Kaldera, “Drawing Down the Spirits.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2009.
“Talking to the Spirits.” Rochester (VT): Destiny Books. 2013.

Jones, Prudence and Nigel Pennick, “A History of Pagan Europe.” NY: Routledge. 1995.

Kaldera, Raven, “Dealing with Deities.” Hubbardston (MA): Asphodel Press. 2012.
“Wyrdwalkers.” Hubbardston (MA): Asphodel Press.2007

Krasskova, Galina, “Devotional Polytheism.” Sanngetall Press. 2014.
“Honoring the Ancestors.” Sanngetall Press. 2014.

Lecouteux, Claude, “Demons and Spirits of the Land,” translated by Jon Graham. Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2015.
“The Return of the Dead,” translated by Jon Graham. Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT). 2009.
“The Tradition of Household Spirits,” translated by Jon Graham. Inner Traditions: Rochester (VT).2013.

Paper, Jordan, “The Deities Are Many.” Albany NY: State University of New York Press. 2005.

West, Philip, “The Old Ones in the Old Book.” Washington (US): Moon Books. 2011.

God of the Month: Ereshkigal of Sumer

The Queen of the Great Below, Ereshkigal rules the Underworld (Irkalla). This is the final destination from which there is no return – either for Gods or mortals. Ereshkigal keeps the Dead where They need to be, so the Dead do not wander off and plague the living.

For the Sumerians, the Dead went to the world beneath the Earth’s surface. Called the Lower World, a stairway, from a cave in the earth, went down to the First Gate. As the newly deceased moved downward, They would give gifts to the various Galla who guarded the Gates. After going through the Seven Gates, the Dead would arrive before Ereshkigal. She would pronounce the sentence of death on Them as her scribe, Geshtinana recorded their names.

Ereshkigal never leaves Irkalla, nor do the Great Gods visit Her except for Nergal, Her Fourth Consort. Nergal (The Unsparing) has his escorts keep the Gates open when He returns every six months to sit by her side. During that time, Nergal rules with Her. The other six months, He wages war and sends the newly killed to Her.

Her Son Ninazu, God of Healing, and his son Ningishzida (God of the Dawn) would conduct business for Her in the Upper World. Namtar (Fate-Cutter), also Her Son, would go to the Upper World to spread the plague and pestilence. Her daughter, Nungal is considered the Goddess of Prisons and Punishment.