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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Ancestor Vigil

We've been doing the Ancestor Vigil here for about 20 years and every year it is a little different but the intention is always the same. It is not a Samhain ritual, it is not a celebration of Hallowe'en, it does not glom onto the trendy love of Dia de los Muertes. It is a ritual commemoration of the Recent Dead, the Beloved Long Dead and the Mighty Dead.

We set up a central altar, a candle-lighting station and a place to get more info on Mother Grove Goddess Temple and to leave your food donations for the food pantry. People are invited to place mementos on the altar and there is a place in the ritual where we speak the names of the dead that are closest to us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tending the Tales of Grief

Every so often, I offer a workshop or discussion on Ancestor veneration. I hadn't done one in several years, but felt the urge to do it this year.  Last night was the chosen evening and we drew in together at Mother Grove's little chapel to talk about the Dead and our Dead.

It was informal--more of a conversation than a class.  I started out with some general information about honoring our Beloved Dead through altars or memorial displays. We went on to discuss the layers of the Dead that we may choose to honor--family and friends who have died,  all those folks we find on Ancestrydotcom and those intentionally selected heroes and inspirations who have no blood or cultural tie to us but who have inspired us through their story.

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  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Beautiful words.
Tidying Up and Baking Cornbread for Themselves

Readying for Samhain is a long and delightful process around here. Last week, I tidied the Ancestor Altar at Mother Grove Goddess Temple and poured some wine into the silver chalice on the third shelf.  This morning--in spite of the distinct possibility that we have some temple mice--I added some bread to the little feast.

It's the alarm clock that we usually use to wake them up. That isn't necessary now--as I've written here before, the Veil is so thin these days as to be non-existent. It is a loving, albeit symbolic, gesture.

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Do you Hoodoo? or, Rootwork Amongst the Edamame

I returned from the West Kentucky Hoodoo Rootworker Heritage Festival last evening. The festival site was set in farm country in western Kentucky and vast fields of soybeans formed a crescent around the encampment.  A rooster crowed up the Sun each morning and coyotes yipped through the long, cool nights. We had one wet night and one cold night and days filled with one of the most diverse groups I've seen in my (admittedly limited) Pagan festival experience.

There were workshops, rituals, classes and plenty of networking with colleagues from as far away as Toronto. The food was good, the company cheerful and remarkably even-tempered. Lots of nice vendors tempted us all with their pretty wares and I can't even complain about the late-night karaoke simply because the folks doing it were having so much fun.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Celeste Jackson
    Celeste Jackson says #
    Absolutely! Bryan, Jack and I would be delighted to assist you. I would also LOVE to introduce you to Dr. Erika Brady. Dr Montell
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Too funny. Yes, it was nice meeting you, too, at long last and nice to meet Bryan. I am considering a limited tour of Kentucky and
  • Celeste Jackson
    Celeste Jackson says #
    I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and reading your book(yes, I did finish it- I could not put it down) and had one heck of a time e
  • shentonta
    shentonta says #
    love the article. I live in NE Tennessee and did not know there was a festival of root work this close. I want to go next year. T
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thank you. It was a powerful festival--I hope to see you there next year.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Face To Face with Neglected Ancestors

And they are kind of cranky.  Let me give you the backstory, if I may.

About once a month, a small group of us get together for some trance work.  Sometimes we hold trance postures, sometimes we dance.  We crank up the "tunes" and turn off the lights.  Some of us cover our eyes.  We have a separate room where we can sit it out for a bit--or write what's coming in for us.  Then we can choose to return or not.  When we are all in the separate room and sitting quietly for a bit, someone will ask if we've all returned and we do a self-check to make sure we're fully present.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hard Work as Sacrament

It is harvest-time here in the southern Highlands of the Appalachian mountains. The green beans have been blanched and frozen. The blessed elderberry harvest has been frozen and juiced and tinctured for winter healings. The apples are in now and I have spent many and many an hour cutting off the bruised parts and cutting out the wormy bits and chopping them up. Some have gone into bags to be future pies and apple cake. Others have become applesauce and many of them have been crushed for their juice and amended with yeast and honey to be hard cider in the cold months to come.

If I sound like the busy Ant from the fable that is appropriate. There are "fun" things that I have declined attending because the harvest is in and there is food to process. Not so much fun now but imagine pesto from my own basil, thawed in the depths of January. And I hold fast the notion of a crisp cold hard cider as the perfect celebration of the the Midwinter Solstice.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    I love that poem--thank you for posting it. Marge Piercy certainly gets it, doesn't she? green beans...
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    Your lovely post made me think of this, one of my very favorite poems. The poem, and the fact that I still have that bag of beans

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Home is Where the Harvest is

As you know, I have been travelling. I was in Britain for three weeks, returned home for five days and then set off for New York for almost a week.

All of this at harvest time. Sadness. The grapes were neglected and went to feed the possums and raccoons. There was a huge elderberry harvest but I did very little of it. Because we have two apple trees that bear fruit at different times, the apple harvest has been prolonged.  We filled our little freezer with apples destined for the cider fermenter and there are more in the refrigerator in the vegetable drawers.

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