Remembering the Dead

I meant to be posting more about my dead, but time has seemed to get away from me lately.  Today I want to make a short post about my great great uncle, Charles Comito.  I never met him, of course.  He died in 1944, when my own grandmother was a little girl.

In January of 1943, at the age of 22 or 23, Charles enlisted in the army as a Warrant Officer.  I’m not sure when he actually left for training or how long he was in the army.  A lot of this information is family hear-say from my grandmother.  Since she was a child at the time and her memory isn’t great now, it’s all kind of murky.  Anyway, the story is that he went to New York for training before deployment.  During that time, he died.  I’ve been told from family that it was either A) an allergic reaction to a vaccination or B) an untreated illness of some sort.

The reason I’m writing about him is because no matter how he died, he died at about 24 years old.  He wanted to fight for his country and he died doing that, even if it isn’t in the way most soldiers go.  He wrote poetry for his mother and sent it home to her while he was away.  It reveals someone who seemed kind, and sweet.  My great grandmother, his sister, used to write him a letter every single week.  He died in June but it took a while for my family to find out that he had passed away, so she kept writing to him over July and into August of ’44.  Her unopened letters where returned with his things.  I think another reason I’m drawn to give him mention and honors by name in ancestor work is because  I was able to read them once, and it was so clear how much she loved him.  The last letter she sent him, the final lines read something like “We haven’t heard from you in a while, and you know how Mom worries.  Please try to give us a call or a letter soon.  We miss you.  Love, Mary” and it absolutely broke my heart.  He has no descendants and no one else to remember him.

So here’s to you Charles Comito.

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Remembering my Dead

Although October is the more traditional month for the dead, at least by American cultural standards, its only been in the last week that I’ve been really feeling them.  So, as the feeling strikes me, I’m going to be sharing some stories and photos of my dead.  It seems as though I should speak of my ancestors first, but instead, I’ll be talking about an old friend.

I had a rough childhood and no friends until middle school.  I fell in with a group of girls who really helped me through middle and high school.  We were a tight knit group for most of that time, only drifting away or breaking away between sixteen-eighteen.

Avery was the friend I wanted to be.  She was incredibly smart, funny, cute, and a talented artist.  She was weird and spontaneous, and had appetite for life coupled with a lack of fear that I’ve always craved.  She experimented with different hair and clothing styles, changing her whole look every few weeks.  Avery was restless and wanted to break free of our boring Iowa life.  She used to tell me, even then, that she wanted to “live fast and die pretty”.  Around sixteen, she fell into drugs.  Acid and heroine, right out of the gate.  As the child of an addict, that wasn’t something I could be around so we drifted apart.  She lost full ride scholarships and dropped out of school. She continued to party, to make art, to burn herself down.

Avery burned away her mind and within a couple years, the girl I knew was completely gone.  It was devastating.  Even so, during that time, on the rare occasion we saw each other, she was always kind to me.  After high school ended, I think we only spoke three times.  Once on the phone and twice online.

Early in June of 2013, she reached out on facebook and commented on an old picture of us together.  She chatted with me, told me that she never forgot my kindness or our friendship.  Two days later, she took her own life.  June, the birth month we shared.  She (we) had just turned twenty six years old.  I didn’t know her past sixteen, but I loved her and in the end, she remembered that she loved me.

She was the first of my dead to contact me, to reach out and guide me to start worshiping the dead/my ancestors.  She has guided me away from making a terrible life decision.  I think she’s happy on the other side, and finally free.  It still pains me that life was so hard for her and that she took the path she did, but I try to be happy for the peace she found.

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Her art.  Her obituary.

Katabasia

For now, I am exploring a relationship with Dionysus and his retinue, especially as He appears in The Thiasos of the Starry Bull.  In an effort to better understand some of his aspects, I’ve decided to low-key celebrate some of his festivals.  Last Thursday (10/27/16) was the Katabasia, commemoration of Dionysus’ decent into the underworld to bring up his mother Semele.  Sharing his divinity with her, she becomes a goddess.

Since I’m aiming for low-key right now, so I didn’t do much.  I took a cleansing bath, dressed in the black dress I wore to my grandmother’s funeral.  I had set up the altar before hand, so it was mostly ready to go when I came down stairs.  I played some music while I read some hymn and poems to Dionysus and Semele.  I lit a candle for the occasion and some incense,  I offered wine (Apothic Inferno), mead (Charm City Rosemary mead- rosemary chosen because Semele is the grand daughter of Aphrodite), milk, and honey.  I’m not sure that if the wine and mead were well received or not, but I probably won’t be using them again.  Just a feeling.   The rosemary mead especially (unless the I get a big sign that They loved it)- the smell alone was off putting.  Taking a sip almost ended the ritual because of almost puking.  So, yeah.  I took a moment and moved on from that.  I prayed and danced and drank wine for a while, then sat in contemplation of Dionysus, Semele, and the myths involving Dionysus’s birth and Semele’s death.  I have a mental picture of how I’d like to try to paint a statue of Her, so I’ll be thrifting around to find one that works (I’m just starting to try art, making a sculpture is too advanced for me right now).

So anyway, I wasn’t particularly feeling as connected as I wanted to be feeling, so I went on walk around the block.  It was probably about 12:15 AM, and I live in a decent area so it was no big deal.  While I was walking, nothing much happened except I kept smelling some kind of flower, I think.  It was overpoweringly strong.  Kind of like honey suckle, but not quite.  I looked around for the source, tried to follow my nose, etc., but came up with nothing.

I got home and prayed a little more and ended the festivities.  No big revelations, and nothing  really interesting to report, but I’m glad I did it.  I’m really trying to focus on easing in, building up kharis with these Gods that have been pulling me towards them.  Hail Dionysus!  Hail Semele!

Finding the Gods in music

Ever since I began to study and forging a relationship with Dionysus and Ariadne, I’ve begun to “see” them in a lot of my music.  Songs I’ve heard a thousand times are suddenly taking on new meaning.  I’ve always used music as a connective tool, but still, it’s really caught me off guard (not in a bad way though).  Three times a week I take my daughter to a marital arts class.  It’s about 20-40 min there depending on traffic, about 25 min on the way back.  This gives me a lot of music time in the car.  The Girl entertains herself and generally doesn’t pay me any mind.  I’ve taken to hitting shuffle and focusing my thoughts one deity in particular, praying to them for connection.

The first time I did this, Ariadne was my focus.  These seven songs are what played from a playlist of over a hundred songs and at least twenty different artists.  They didn’t play in this order, I’ve reorganized them.  I know other may see no connection but to me, I hear in these songs the myth of her languishing away in her old life, betraying her brother to escape it all, being left by Theseus and finally meeting Dionysus.

Listen here if you’d like.

Self evaluation, 8/1/16

I’ve been feeling lost about religion lately.  It’s been years since I truly felt “connected” to the Gods, years since I regularly felt their presence in my life.  It hurts.  It’s frustrating.  I know they’re there, though.  Every time I truly begin to doubt or the despair grows too strong, They make their presence know.  Just for a moment, just a tiny bit, just enough to show me, again, We Exist.  I’m blessed that they give me that and I’m grateful beyond words.

After a couple years of floundering and clinging to Wicca styled worship, I tried strict reconstruction for a couple years… at first it really helped.  Learning how the Theoi were originally worshiped, how they originally revealed themselves to humanity, has been beautiful, fulfilling and rewarding.  But the feeling of “rightness” didn’t extend to the actual practice.

I still think a lot of that information is important to Their worship and there are plenty of parts I’m going to keep.  But for now… I need to go back to a semi-eclectic form of worship.  Just admitting that makes me feel dirty, tbh.  I’ve been railing against that for years- I don’t like the idea of not having structure, of just doing whatever you want and calling it worship.  Although that’s not what I intend to do, just veering off the beaten path makes me feel like I am.

I’m diving into the local focus polytheism stuff that’s been coming out the last couple years (that I’ve noticed, anyway).  I have no idea what my religious life will look like soon, if this will help me connect with Them, if it’ll make any difference.  I’m terrified.  I’m excited.  We’ll see where it takes me.

I turned 29 this summer.  My child is heading to kindergarten this fall.  I’m going back to school, to complete my BA in history.  Now is the time for change.  I think I’m long overdue.

A Month Of Devotional Thought (template)

Galina Krasskova suggested this as part of on-going efforts to bring the Sacred back into our world.

I feel like I’m going to do this, but I’m quite sure how I’ll approach it yet.

1. Write basic introduction of the deity
2. How did you become first aware of this deity?
3. what are some Symbols and icons of this deity
4 .Share a favorite myth or myths of this deity
5. Who are Members of the family – genealogical connections of this Deity.
6. What are some Other related deities and entities associated with this deity
7. Discuss this Deity’s Names and epithets
8 Discuss Variations on this deity (aspects, regional forms, etc.)
9. what are some Common mistakes about this deity
10 .what are common Offerings – historical and UPG
11 Talk about Festivals, days, and times sacred to this deity
12. What are some Places associated with this deity and their worship
13. What modern cultural issues — if any—are closest to this deity’s heart? (this is a question that i”m not overly thrilled with. It presupposes that the Gods give a rat’s ass about our “cultural issues” but maybe some of Them do and if They don’t, we can talk about that too, always with the caveat that it is insofar as we as individual devotees have sussed out).
14. Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?
15. Are there Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
16. How do you think this deity represents the values of their pantheon and cultural origins?
17, How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?
18 How does this deity stand in terms of gender and sexuality? (historical and/or UPG) (again, a question about which I could not possibly care less, but I suspect the answers might be interesting).
19. What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire?
20. What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?
21. Share any Art that reminds you of this deity
22. Share any Music that makes you think of this deity
23. Share A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with
24 Share Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity
25 Share A time when this deity has helped you
26 Share A time when this deity has refused to help (i really like this question).
27. How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
28. what are the Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered
29. What is Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently
30. do you have Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?
31 Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?