Hear the names of my Beloved Dead that we may bear witness.
Ashley Michelle Wright
Francis Garth Dickins
Verla June McKee
Charles Edward Laidlaw
All my Ancestors of Blood, Bone, and Spirit.
Tuesday this week I was out walking dogs near my home and found three Amanita muscaria v. formosa, two had been trampled but one was just starting to bloom. I admired it in the morning and took a closer look in the afternoon. As I bent to take a photo I just barely touched it with my finger to see if I could get a look at the gills underneath, the head popped right off. I felt terrible, not meaning to pick it until it had bloomed/opened. I thought about it and hoped it wasn’t entirely my fault, these are sturdy mushrooms, my gentle touch was not enough on it’s own to damage it. So I nabbed the cap and stem, having a talk with it on my way home. I am terribly interested in actually trying this mushroom for spiritual purposes but with a small child I don’t want to lay my life in my very inexperienced hands. The mushroom, who I will use “they” pronouns for, was curious as to why I was so very excited to find it. I did my best to explain the whole oak tree connection, and the Mother of Rot/Mushrooms thing, and the spiritual journey with mushrooms but for the toddler bit. They seemed quite pleased by my attention so made an offer. Take them home, dry and place in a jar on my altar and they would offer as much assistance as they could without actually being ingested. I offered to gather one of each of the Amanita’s that I come across in my travels and place them all in the jar together, the whole family together. They seemed very pleased by this idea and agreed. So into the oven they went.
Last Wednesday, the 21st, while working I came across two immature Amanita muscaria var. muscaria. I was lucky enough this Wednesday to go by the same spot and they were still there! I picked the one that had opened completely, leaving the unopened one to w/Whoever wanted it. This one had a quieter disposition, wasn’t as chatty as the yellow Amanita had been. I explained the situation, they were pleased to be gathered. They are both now in a jar on my altar with a few of the oak leaves they were found in. They are quite pleased. So am I really. I already love putting things in jars on my altar and around my home. Now I need to read up on the others I need to find. My other favourite name for these mushrooms is now berserkur, that’s the Icelandic common name for them.
As the sun sets my vigil begins. I will bear witness to her passing, to her loneliness and pain. I will hold space for her in the darkness.
Ashley Michelle Wright was a very dear friend of mine. She died last year on the 18th of August. I still don’t know what happened or if I ever will.
Hail to the Beloved Dead. Those who are remembered never die.
“One down, two to go.”
It is Hermes that tells me this. Apparently grieving works the same way quitting smoking did for me. It comes in threes.
“It’s the first three days that are the worst. It all comes in threes; Three days, three months, three years, and so on.”
As the sun sets tonight it is the end of the first 24 hours “after”. I’ve never dealt with the death of a loved one like this. My cousin was killed two years ago by a workplace accident, it was awful but we all knew how dangerous his job was. Elderly grandparents who when they are gone you miss but their death was “expected”. Perhaps that is the lesson to take from this grief, well it would be more of refresher. Everything dies. It’s just a matter of when. Your love for them cannot stop this. I’ve mourned a child lost before we had the chance to bring them into the world. I’ve mourned the loss of a close friends still born baby. Lives that ended before they had a chance to really begin. So you’d think that someone dying in their early twenties would be easier somehow. I’m not sure what I mourn the most. The loss of her physical presence or the lost chance of a child to know his mother. The Ancient Irish had written into the Brehon Law that a person could not be prosecuted for any wrong doing(including murdering someone thought to be involved) during the first three days of mourning. One was considered essentially mad with grief and unable to be held accountable for their actions. I get it. There are so many illogical things I wish to do right now. Yell at her parents because no one told me, but what mother would be thinking about that when one of their children is dead. I want to find her son and bring him home to live with us. Fly down to where she is buried so I can weep and keen at her graveside. When my period of intense mourning is done and I feel stronger physically I plan to do some trance work to ensure that she has passed on properly and peacefully and to say my own good byes. I know she still lives and I know I will see her again; Doesn’t help me now though.
I’m not going into detail right now because the wound is still very very fresh. I found out this morning that someone who was exceedingly special to me passed away. She crossed over almost a year ago but I just found out this morning. My heart is shattered. Prayers for my most Beloved Dead.
So much of my life is liminal. I shouldn’t be surprised, my birth itself was sort of a liminal thing. Around 11am on June 30th 1982, my beloved Mother went into labour. This was at the very beginning of her third trimester. The nurse did not believe her but all the signs of imminent birth were there. Fifty-six minutes later I was born. My darling Father missed it. I was two pounds two ounces. Minutes after my birth I stopped breathing. A week later I had pneumonia and dropped to one pound fourteen ounces. Death, I have realized, has been with me since the beginning. Straddling that line between this world and the next was the first great Work of my life.
I was confused a few months back when Hermes started calling me “the Watcher at the Gate”. I think I may understand Him now. The push to work with the Dead and Dying has ramped up again. Lots of “coincidence’s” pertaining to being a death midwife or doula. My one year anniversary of my baptism is coming up at the end of the month. He says things will “get busy” after that.
Why the trillium you ask? I read an amazing article about a week back (which I will link to eventually)touching on the liminal nature of the trillium flower. How it thrives at this liminal time of year. The photo attached to this post I took about two weeks ago; A lone trillium amongst the growing green.