Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times for November 2019
Our Final Harvest Sabbat is upon us, and if you are like me, you have a LITTLE bit of gardening left to do!
For me, it is planting a tiny bit of bulbs and a little basic cleanup.
A big job I have is learning organic pest control for my roses for next year.
This year, I decided I am flat out DONE with chemical pest control, and I got rid of all of it. I was told that dish soap with a touch of oil mixed with water kills everything on roses, but you know what? It doesn’t! My roses and their leaves were positively decimated this year. So, wish me luck in my learning, please, because I am determined to do a better job taking care of my roses!
The way some of them look right now, it will be like bringing them back from the dead!
Speaking of the Dead
This is the time many reach out to the dead, as many of us believe the veil which separates the land of the living from the land of the dead is thinning. More than one of my friends has expressed they could feel it.
More than one individual I know plans to attend some form of non-Sabbat gathering for celebration, and many shops and professionals advertise seances at this time of year especially. Prices vary, and unless you have a large group of people you know and arrange a private session, chances are, you will wind up at a gathering with a bunch of strangers at a place where none of your dead have visited before.
People pour into these events, sometimes excited, sometimes a little scared, and sometimes looking to have a bit of fun and excitement.
What I am about to write is sure to earn the anger of some, but it needs to be communicated. I generally find public seances shops and professionals hold to be disrespectful, and I don’t recommend you attend unless it is a private session with a psychic you personally are comfortable with.
For a lot of reasons, starting with who the dead are.
Who Are the Dead?
-They are people who no longer have bodies, but still people. So, while a lot of people are scared of “ghosts” and what harm they could cause, let me assure you that it is highly unlikely your dead loved one would do so.
What about demonic possession and the risk of being taken? I am going to assume your friends and family who passed on who are worth reaching out to would never harm you. Otherwise, leave it alone. But, remember a lot of what we believe about spirits is based on what people who believe in the devil- aka NOT Pagans- or people who make TV shows and movies come up with for fictional entertainment.
I do have ONE relative who hurt me a lot when they were alive, but other than that, nobody else who was in my life would wish harm upon me. And yes, I refuse communication with the one who hurt me, because yes, they have tried since their death, and I just said no. While I know some spirits will be more persistent, I have never dealt with becoming possessed against my will.
-They are not here to answer deep occult truths or amuse. Just as they were when alive, they exist for themselves and the purposes that they fulfill. Being servitors is not one reason. Some will watch over us, protect us, and continue loving us even then they no longer have a body, but be careful reaching out to establish communication just to ask favors. It’s disrespectful to do this to people who are alive, and equally disrespectful to do this to the dead.
-They have places to go, perhaps a permanent afterlife, or a new body to be reincarnated to. So, they may or may not answer or not. However, some become ancestral spirits who can be called on for many generations, like one who I will talk about later.
How to Communicate with the Dead?
Respectfully, and never forgetting they were once human beings just like we are. Unless you are working within a certain system or tradition, it’s pretty much the same rules of etiquette in communicating with the living that you use in communication with the dead.
How would you feel is some stranger was yelling in the middle of a public space for “whoever is here to communicate with me?” For what reason, and who do they think they are to call you, who they don’t even know?
How would you feel if a family member who had not reached out to you for a while had a stranger reach out instead?
I always suggest you try to make some form of communication with your dead before involving a stranger. This can be done by simply talking to them in private, sitting out a photo of them and/or something that was either theirs, or something that reminds you of them, and sitting out food and or drink they would have liked. Light a candle, and start talking. Believe it or not, this might get an immediate response, or you might have to try for a little while. They may visit you in a dream, or pick some sign, like their favorite flower popping up regularly for you to notice to let you know they are near.
They are not “on call” when the veil is thin, and unavailable for the rest of the year. You can always try to establish, and maintain communications with your beloved dead no matter what the date on the calendar, or what season it is.
I also would not bring a group of strangers into a room together, and not introduce them. There are some differences here, though. If you call various spirits together, they are going to come from different places, and might not get along. That could be a disaster. They could bring other spirits with them, and who knows what will happen if they don’t leave, but stick around?
Having Lord Shadow as my mentor has instilled in me the necessity to banish properly. With the living, it is an invitation, and a goodbye. What if you can’t get rid of every spirit that arrives? While earlier I basically said not to worry about Hollywood movie style demonic possession, spirit attachments ARE real. While spirits are just people who no longer have bodies, and a lot of the same rules of respect can apply to communication with them, be aware of who and what you are communicating with in public most especially.
There is just a lot to consider when doing these things, and for a lot of reasons, I do not recommend gatherings with strangers calling up all the spirits they want to altogether. It is very different than talking to mom and dad’s spirits on your own!
I realize a lot of shops and psychics earn money doing these, and I am not trying to take money out of anybody’s pockets. I just feel, as somebody who communicates with the dead, there are much better ways to have those very personal and very private communications.
Gifts for the Dead
Now earlier, I mentioned giving gifts for the dead when establishing communication.
Oftentimes, when you show up to see a friend, you take a gift, right? Even a bottle of wine or a thing of good tea is great for a host/ess gift! While it is not 100% necessary or expected, it’s just nice. We all love gifts!
So what do you give to them?
First off, are you working within a particular tradition? That tradition dictates what is appropriate. If not, have it be something they would have liked when alive. For a lot of my loved ones, we ate together. I have food and drink for them. If I am leaving offering for them at a Samhain gathering, they get a little of everything at the buffet/potluck table. If I am leaving gifts for them on my personal altar, it is often tobacco, chocolate, and/or coffee.
For you and your dead, these things might not work. Nobody knows your loved ones who crossed the veil like you do. You will know what they want.
However, what about if you can’t establish contact, as I observed happen once? What if you have done all I have suggested, and no contact happens?
Like we have the right to block a call, or ignore a text, so do the dead. Maybe they have moved onto a new incarnation or another place, and no contact is possible. That has to be taken into account also. Maybe they are momentarily busy. Like when you call a friend if they don’t answer, leave a message, and try back later!
There are times you need the help communicating, and I have a relationship with a spirit who I reach out to. He is famous worldwide in both occult circles, and pop culture as well.
He is the beloved Papa Legba.
Before I begin, let me just say I find it very disrespectful to establish communication with a spirit or deity just to have them do a favor for you, and I see a lot of Pagans do it. I would never ever recommend being THAT Pagan! So I’m not advocating to call Papa Legba to have him open communication with the dead if you have no intention to have a devotion or relationship with him.
I hate when people just reach out to me when they WANT something, don’t you?
So, I say in advance, don’t do that with Papa.
If you have already established communication with him, or want permanent communication and a relationship with Papa, read on.
In Haitian Vodou, he is the one who opens communication between spirits and the living. He can deny permission to communicate, and dogs are sacred to him. He is also protective of children. Monday is his day, his number is 3, and red and black are his colors.
It is said he is not necessarily the first saluted in ritual, but he must be before communication with spirits begins. He is an old spirit, said by some to be as old as time itself, and while Haitian, he hails from Africa originally, a god of the Fon people. Papa speaks all languages, knows all paths, and removes or creates obstacles on paths. People reach out to him with help in many things from basic lifepath, to simply finding a job. He is known as a trickster, but if you reach out to him for help, he has been characterized by some as a grandfatherly spirit that will help.
The African American Wiccan Society has a page devoted to him, which you can read here:
Here is a video of a portion of a ceremony to Legba:
Make sure you want a permanent relationship with Legba or any spirit in general if you reach out to them. Some people swear up and down the Vodun spirits ONLY establish a relationship with people of African or Haitian descent, as they are ancestral spirits, but I don’t agree with that at all. They decide who they want a connection with, and as Papa speaks ALL languages, he has no issue whatsoever doing so.
If you want to start communication, you can just speak to him, and place something on your altar for him. He loves strong black coffee, and rum, which can be poured onto the ground for him, small sweets or chocolate, pennies, and tobacco. It is traditional to say:
“Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children are waiting.
Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children await.
Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children are waiting.
Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children await.
Papa Legba, open the gates, Your children are waiting.
Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children await.”
So What Am I Saying?
Basically my whole point in this article is to urge you to be very choosy about communicating with the dead style gatherings, which are very popular this time of year especially. Some are structured for fun and games, or to earn money for business owners without regard for what is respectful, or the sacredness of relationships.
You do not need anybody else to speak to your loved ones who have died, and if you need help hearing what they say back, consult an individual who you trust in private.
May you have a blessed final harvest, however you celebrate it. May your communications with your dead be meaningful, clear, and lifelong.
About the Author:
Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.
A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.
Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!
Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.
All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, and is still studying for Third Degree, making it to Second Degree thus far.
She is a gifted tarot reader, spellworker, teacher, and was even a resident Witch at a Westerville place dubbed The Parlor for a time.
Aside from her magical practice, she is a crocheter, beader, painter, and a good cook. She has been a clown and children’s entertainer, a Nursing Home Activities Professional, a Cavern Tour Guide, a Retail Cashier, and a reader in local shops. Her college degree is a BA in English Writing. She tried her hand at both singing and playing bagpipes, and…well…let’s just say her gifts lie elsewhere! She loves gardening, reading, antiques, time with friends and soul kin, and lots and lots of glorious color bedecking her small home!
On the encouragement of a loved one several years back, she searched for a publication to write for, and is right at home at PaganPagesOrg.
She is currently residing in Central Ohio with her husband, and furbabies.
Saoirse can be contacted at [email protected].