Venus as Holy Helper

Foundations

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he is the morning and evening star, the five-pointed pentacle, the sweet bite of an apple, and the heady scent of rose. Venus is the tang of salt on your tongue and the song of sensual pleasure thrumming through our bodies.

She is Venus but behind her stands Aphrodite, behind her we find Ishtar, Isis, and Inana – to name only a very few. She preceded all of the Olympian Gods and Titans in her form as Aphrodite Urania, heavenly Aphrodite, as she sprang from the blood and seed soaked waves in the wake of Uranus’ sacrifice.

She is lust, desire, and love in all of its many forms embodied. She is the ripening fig, the rich red wine, the golden honey, and the decadent cream, but she is also the sacred spring and the wind through her beloved Cypress trees, trees that like her, know something of the Underworld and Shadow.

She shows us that it is possible for Love to vanquish War, for beauty and harmony to outsmart perfect strategy and pure power. She has bewitched the most powerful of witches and spurred on fierce battles.

Most often we think of her as a rather conventional beauty, full hips, and breasts, slender waist, nubile position, forgetting that in some of her greatest statues she could easily be mistaken for Athena, appearing as she does in full battle armor. The teaching of course is that no force knows how to battle the way that Love does.

Traditionally she was petitioned to bring a lover, keep a lover, and deepen a current love relationship. Her blessing was sought on all marriages and unions of all kinds, her provenance extended to bring beauty, music, laughter, dance, and joy into the hearts of mankind. She is both a breaker and healer of hearts, the desire that can set us on the right course or drive us mad. She is often perceived as the weakest and flightiest of the Divine, but anywhere depth happens, she is present. Hekate, Titaness of the Underworld, and Guardian of all Thresholds is her protector because Love is the most precious of all.

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ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Uranus as a Holy Helper

Foundations

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e is so ancient that his presence pre-dates both Gods and Titans seen less a God-like figure and understood more clearly as the Sky itself, the realm of heaven which is exactly what his name means – heavenly. As such, Uranus is the Holy Helper most capable of seeing the whole, of knowing all that is under the sky, cultivating the bird’s eye view.

He fell in love with Gaia, Earth herself, and as a result, he is called on even today when the Earth needs protection and defense. With his love, he had children, the first of the Titans, the beginning of a divine legacy. In this way, he helps us see our own legacy as well and he is especially helpful when we need to cultivate both vision of the future and the actions that make it possible. He was castrated by his children in a clear need to ancient sacrificial practices around kingship, reminding us that claiming our future requires we leave certain parts of our selves in the past.

When his sex was thrown into the sea, magic occurred, and among the beings called to life was Aphrodite herself, bringing to our attention the essence of vision, future building, care for the Earth, and life itself: Love. Uranus

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ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Holy Helper Mercury

Foundations

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e (Holy Helper Mercury) is the fleet footed one, quicksilver tongue, knowing and speaking all the languages that ever were or ever will be. The idea that turns into a story that grows into a life, every tale ever told, every lie ever uttered, every truth ever hidden. He is the shapeshifter taking on whatever form he will, the one who travels and tricks in equal measure, the love of good words and fantastic tale. He is the student, the teacher, and the road between them. He is the truth found only in darkness and the lie that sounds like pure truth. He is the clown, court jester, Koshare, Coyote jingle-jangling his way into the feast, completely inappropriate with rattle and hat, spitting watermelon seeds at all who are oh so serious and grave – in these moments he is the teacher of reverence. He is every book you have ever read and all of those you have not yet and never will. He is every word on every page and every speech ever made or unmade. He is sound and scent and the one who delights in all the winged ones. He is the very breath we take and the space between each breath. Love of Crossroads and roadways and all who travel, first of the Mages who knows all the ways of transformation, bending, twisting, talking, and turning. His nature is change. Find him in the wind promising the seasonal shift and the quiet breath exhaled in the deepest night to fan the final spark of the campfire and keep the tale going just a little bit longer. He is mouth, throat, tongue. He is a voice. And it is voice most of all that we offer to him — our voices, our words, our thoughts, our wisdom and foolishness and the promise to use them well, to make something beautiful, compelling, or interesting with them, as long as we are in the dance. You can burn incense to honor him, feed birds or butterflies, put on good perfume. But what he likes best, as all of us who serve him know, is the telling of a good tale. Sit down, take a breath, begin the spell…once upon a time… holy helper mercury

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ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Neptune Retrograde

Foundations

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In the ancient world there are moments in some of the better known stories and plays when the rivers begin to run backward. The seasoned reader knows that whenever that occurs something profound, and usually quite challenging, is about to happen. The event may be sudden but most often it is more gradual. The one sure thing is that once the rivers are running backward things are going to change and they won’t go back to the way things were before – they can’t. To my mind, this is an excellent illustration of what happens when the planet and holy helper Neptune goes retrograde.

First we must note that it is not uncommon for Neptune to spend as much or even more time retrograde as it spends moving directly. As one of the outermost planets its orbit is incredibly long and it takes its time moving through the sky – one of the aspects of this celestial helper we will return to in a moment. Neptune experiences a retrograde every year and that retrograde lasts between 6 and 7 months.

As I have written elsewhere, retrogrades of the outer planets are generally not believed to affect individuals as much as they are understood to give shape to global events. However, my personal and professional findings indicate something slightly different. What I have found is that we are all affected by outer planet retrogrades in different ways. There are those who can experience one outer planet retrograde and not even know that anything is happening. Those same people can experience another outer planet retrograde and be deeply affected by it. This speaks to something I have termed planet-sensitivities. We are especially sensitive to a planet when it is strongly aspected in our charts. So for instance, the planets that rule your Sun and Moon signs as well as your Ascendant, are all planets to watch. The planets that have strong aspects in your chart are also planets to pay attention to.

This means that when it comes to working with Neptune’s retrograde we have to look at both the global and potential personal effects.

Neptune is a planet strongly associated with the qualities of healing, spirituality, unconditional love, art and beauty, fantasy, romance, and the past. There is an otherworldly quality to Neptune (accentuated by the fact that the planet is retrograde for so long) that makes those born under its influence seem especially beautiful, magical, alluring, elusive, and also not quite of this world. The greatest challenge we find with the Neptunian flow is that of practical thinking and sound foundations. The visionary capacity we all possess is expanded by Neptune to a great degree but this is not the planet to remind us to put a foundation on those castles we have been building in the sky.

When Neptune retrogrades we collectively and globally have the opportunity to:

Review any fantasy-making that we have been engaged in and determine whether those fantasies can be turned into reality or whether they need to be banished altogether. Here we should think about collective fantasies that countries and nations are working with. Some endeavors may be called “fantastic” to deprive them of momentum and support while other agreements really are based on make-believe fantasy that needs to be sharply addressed and brought into line with reality.

Reflect on history, the mistakes, and the learnings from the past. Neptune’s retrograde can both encourage this reflection and also make it more difficult to glean the most useful insights from history. This is also a period of time when we may find our leaders or the leaders of other countries re-writing history to make it more acceptable or palatable.

Reconsider our attitudes towards healing. This includes mandates around health care and the status provided to health care providers, as well as access to basic necessities that promote health and healing worldwide. This period of time can also provide a useful review for new health and healing technologies and often the missing pieces that make such new methods possible are found during Neptune retrogrades.

Reengage global awareness around water and water rights. Water is the element of this planet and so issues around water and access to water are often first and foremost when we go into Neptune retrograde periods. Learning where your individual water comes from is a great start.

Refuse to dull our senses. Neptune’s influence can encourage more than one kind of fantasy making. Refusing to engage in fantasies that are harmful or going nowhere, refusing to let drugs, alcohol, or other poisons take precedent over what we collectively know to be good and healthy and useful, is a powerful move to make during Neptune Retrograde. We can also see the temptation to go in the opposite direction wax in strength during these periods. Staying sober, especially during these times, is the sound choice.

Re-investigate the stories that sound suspect. Neptune can bring the gifts of fiction into everyone’s life in positive and not so positive ways. Stories that sound suspect, dodgy, or have bad sources should be examined closely during these retrograde periods as their fault lines are most likely to show.

On a more personal level, when Neptune retrogrades we find that we are best able to:

Recommit to any artistic endeavor that is ready to be completed and shared with the world. This can also be a more general recommitting to your own personal creativity and the role that art plays in your life.

Re-examine any fantasies or delusions that are siphoning life force and vitality from you and giving nothing of real value back in return. (Obviously, if and when you identify them, you then banish them!) Pay special attention to the areas of love and money as Neptune retrogrades can really aggravate those two arenas.

Reflect on our own history, including our ancestors and our lineage, for valuable teachings. This is also an ideal time to do healing work on behalf of Ancestors and lineage.

Reconcile any deceptions we have been told or told ourselves with what is actually true. Neptune retrograde is an ideal time to “come clean”.

Recognize our capacity to be both healers and healed, and to work from a place of deep, abiding, and unconditional love.

Remember and work with our dreams and the wisdom they contain.

Neptune retrogrades are long periods of time, incredibly well-suited to sincere reflection. Work with this period of each year in a conscious and proactive manner in order to go deep and move the things that need to be moved with incredible swiftness. Neptune is not a speedy planet as we saw above, but it is deep and thorough, and the endeavors we take on under its auspices are endeavors that stay with us throughout our lives.

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ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Mars as a Holy Helper

Ceremony and Ritual

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e is the God of War, the bringer of strife and disharmony, one of the troublesome planets, the ones that are seen as baneful and full of bad luck. Let me show you his (Mars) Holy.
He is the activist in the streets, the brave rush into flame or bullets, the soldier who takes the shot meant for someone else, the officer who takes a knee. He is the fiery hot courage to say what needs to be said, to do what needs to be done. He is not patient, he is tired of waiting, he refuses to sit back. He is disciplined and will support you in being such as well. His furious might can be controlled and unleashed at the exact right moment, as can yours. Focused. Defiant. Potent. He is your ally in this. He is the Protector, the shield, the one who stands for those who cannot stand for themselves, who defends the defenseless, he has much of Michael in him.

He is the lover of Venus/Aphrodite – an illicit love, hidden for eons. Because what does it mean for War to be a lover of, a devotee to Love, Beauty, Goodness, and Kindness? Their story has been trivialized, mocked, ridiculed, but there is medicine here and wisdom if we will see it. What happens to our understanding of War when we realize that it too, can love? He is a Holy Helper who reminds us that when we truly love someone or something we will go to battle for it. To love is by Necessity, to risk. He is the God of War but he is also one who tells us why, when, and how we make war; he stands by us as we choose our battles. Many of his children are monstrous as we know all too well. But Harmony is also his daughter, without him, she does not exist. mars mars 

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ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Mum’s the Word

Foundations

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iracles, mum’s

From house and home to family, we drill down with Mercury’s Retrograde in Cancer and now look at a specific family member – our Moms.

Cancer is the sign that rules our relationships with our mothers starting with the relationship between us and our literal mothers and then moving out to more archetypal understandings of a mother. It will be easiest to break this down into categories. Note that for our purposes mother applies to both biological and adopted mothers as well as the women AND men in your life who have mothered you in some way.

If your mother is still living and you have a good relationship with her then…use this time to reach out, connect more deeply and let her know how much you love and appreciate her.

If your mother is still living and you do not have a good relationship with her then…ask yourself if you would like to pursue healing and reconciliation in the relationship.

If the answer is yes then spend some time feeling into what the right approach may be. If the answer is no then following the next guideline.

No matter what your relationship to your actual mother is…take a moment to think about the other men and women who have shown up in your lives in a maternal capacity. Take time during this period to reach out and check on them, letting them know that you love and appreciate them.

If your mother is not living then…begin doing ancestor work to honor her memory and to connect with your matrilineal line.

As you connect with your female Ancestors you may also feel a connection with the Archetypal Mother – Divine Feminine energy that lives in all of us. This might sound woo woo but the image of the Great Mother is one that has been with us since ancient times and is found in our oldest religious writings and stories.
Which leads me to my final piece of advice: work with this time to honor the ways that YOU have showed up and mothers others.

Check in on your maternal feelings whether they are directed to your latest work project, half finished poem, or actual child…how are you mothering right now and is your approach what is currently needed and appropriate?     mum’s mum’s 

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ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missive: How Do You Honor Your Beloved Dead

Ceremony and Ritual

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iracles, beloved dead

As promised, the next few Lunar Letters will continue a series I call “Magical Missives”. These are letters in which I share specific magic know-how for your pleasure and personal adaption. I know, I’m excited about it too!

For this Magical Missive, it’s only fitting that we work with our Ancestors and the Beloved Dead. After all, autumn is in the air, and we are nearing Dia de Los Muertos, or the Days of the Dead, as well as the day of Samhain/All Hallows at the end of October, beginning of November.

My goal here is not to overload you with information (we’ve got enough of that, don’t we?) but for you to walk away with a way to frame the work and some super practical ideas you can use to help you cultivate and enrich your relationship to your Beloved Dead.

I have seen quite a few articles advising people on the one true way to honor their Ancestors and/or to build the altars, make the offerings, etc.

The question I always ask and encourage you to ask, is: is this helpful to you? There are about as many ways to honor the Ancestors as there are Ancestors to be honored!

So in this missive I share with you how I do it and how I was taught, and how many locals in my city go about honoring their Ancestors, not as THE ONE TRUE WAY, but as helpful suggestions and enticements to you to get started in what is a wonder-filled deeply personal adventure.

Start Here: Discover and Reflect
So you want to cultivate your relationship with your Beloved Dead. Wait. Hold on. Why in the world would you want to do that?

Here’s why, y’all: your relationship to the Dead, paradoxically, nourishes and vitalizes your relationship to life. For real. If you want more vitality in your life, begin with the ways you are or are not honoring those who have passed away, those Beloved Dead.

If you are like most people who have grown up in the pretty conventional parts of the United States and Canada, you likely won’t even think it is possible, let alone desirable, to have a vibrant and active relationship with the Dead. You probably think building rich and creative altars for the Dead is, well, a little weird, a little morbid. In fact, you likely don’t even think about it at all. Honoring the dead with lovingly created altars is probably not even on your radar, except when we are hard-pressed to do it by necessity. And even then, many of us honor the dead as little as possible, and with as little as we can.

The truth is that honoring our Beloved Dead – as often as possible and with as much joy and love as we can – is a normal and deeply human preoccupation, something people have done in most times and places, all over the world from ancient times down to the present day.

The fact that we do and can relate to our Beloved Dead is one of those universal themes we see repeated again and again. Some of the earliest human habitations feature ritual burials placed lovingly, exactingly, right under where the current generation lived, slept, ate, and raised their children.

Traditions honoring Ancestors can be found in ancient Africa and Asia across the Mediterranean, throughout Europe, and of course in South and Central America as well as Mexico. The conventions around death in much of the U.S. and Canada and some parts of Western Europe are quite simply an aberration (and typically a sanitizing cover-up of more vibrant indigenous traditions that needed to be rooted out for political and religious reasons).

Despite our technological advancement, we seem to be the illiterate brothers and sisters of a wider world of humanity, peoples who are highly literate in the ways of death and honoring the dead.

Now different cultures have different rules and norms when it comes to how you relate to the Dead. The good news is that we can begin to learn again the ways we’ve forgotten and enrich our relationship with our Beloved Dead. But we have to be willing to listen and learn.

We have a great teacher in North America: Mexico and certain parts of the Southwest of the United States. Honoring the Ancestors and celebrating our Beloved Dead has become much more popular in recent years, especially with the release of movies like “The Book of Life” and “Coco.” Those of us who grew up with these traditions typically feel that this newfound popularity is well deserved.

Where I was born and raised, in San Antonio, Dia de Los Muertos is a big deal – the whole city celebrates it. In one area of town, a large community altar brings together people of all walks of life in a colorful a rich celebration of those Beloved Dead. Even if you are not Mexican, South, or Central American or of descent from those countries, you can learn from this tradition about your own relationship to mortality. For it strikes a deeply human chord, and resonates with the heart, with what’s true.

I always advise my students to first begin where they are. Do a little digging into your own background. I am not talking about taking a DNA test – although if you want to, go for it. I am talking about speaking to any living family members you have about death lore and death customs in your family. Maybe all has been forgotten, but maybe not!

You may be surprised to learn that you have more than you think you do. This, in turn, can lead to learning new things about your heritage and lineage deeper than modern memory, and it is a wonderful way to begin the process of honoring your Ancestors before you build a single altar!

Ancestors Alive: Who are the Ancestors?
Before we talk about how to honor your Ancestors let’s talk briefly about who the Ancestors are. Generally speaking, the term Ancestors simply means the ones who came before you and in common usage refers to relatives and family members (typically, but not always, related by blood).

You don’t need to go very far down this road before you discover that you probably have some ancestors that you did not know and did not hear stories about (and therefore have no relationship with) and you may have ancestors that you did not get along with while they were living and you do not want to have a relationship with them.

This is why I break the term of Ancestors up further and talk about our Beloved Dead. Your Beloved Dead are the people related to you through blood (family members) or spirit (the family members that you choose. The Beloved Dead can include well-known or even famous historical figures) that you have a deep relationship with and to. They are the ones you love.

There are more levels of Ancestors you can work with, but for starters, we will just talk about the Beloved Dead – they are the ones you will honor during this time of year and they are the ones who will be represented and nourished at the altar.

And while we are on the subject, let me remind everyone that our pets and animal familiars are also included in the category of our Beloved Dead! It is completely traditional to honor deceased pets and animal companions on the altar and to work with them throughout the year. So do include your wild ones when considering who your Beloved Dead are.

While there are many ways to honor and work with your Beloved Dead during this time of year and throughout the rest of the year, in most cases, the first step is to build them a house so to speak. This house is what we call the altar.

Altars, Altars, Everywhere
The first thing you will want to do before you place a single thing on the altar is deciding who and which Beloved Dead you wish to honor. Yes, you may have only one individual on the altar if that is the only Beloved Dead you have. Yes, you may have lots of individuals on the altar if you have lots of Beloved Dead. A couple of rules of thumb that are useful to keep in mind are:

  1. As I was taught it is inappropriate to honor the Beloved Dead that has not been deceased for at least a year. This means that if your Aunt or your beloved cat died in March or April they would not be included on the altar you build in October. There are exceptions to this and ultimately you have to do what feels right and in alignment for yourself.
  2. It is not appropriate to put the pictures of the living on the altar with images of your Beloved Dead. The exception is babies that have not yet been born (ie, ultrasound pics) may be placed on the altar. It is also customary to put items that belong to the living, especially the living you wish the Ancestors to bless and protect on the altar, just not their actual image. For example, you could have a charm bag that you made for one of your children on your Ancestor Altar but not the picture of the child. Again, consult your own best lights when following these guidelines.
  3. Family members can usually happily share an altar space together. This includes in-laws, so you may include all the Beloved Dead in one place. The exception to this is if there was a serious rift between certain family members. If there was, and you wish to honor both of them then it is a good practice, at least as you begin this work, to give them each their own space.

Keep in mind that the altars and offerings we make for our Ancestors are basically proxy centers for working directly with their graves. It is still typical in many places to go and feast right at the Ancestor’s grave. If you can do that then I highly suggest it. Pick one Beloved Dead to honor each year when you follow this protocol unless you have a bunch of family members buried in the same place in which place you can have a complete fiesta!

With these points in mind, the next thing to do after selecting which of your Beloved Dead you will honor during this season is to decide where you would like to place the altar. When thinking about your altar you mostly just want to have a place where you can set up a picture, candle, glass of water, incense, and a bit of food without having it majorly disturbed. It is quite traditional to place these altars outside and if you have young children or cats that may well be the best choice.

Once you have established where your altar is going to go ahead and cleanse it. You can get directions on that here.

Elements to Include
Once again, you will be the best person to determine what you want your Ancestor Altar to look and feel like but my recommendation is that you start very simple and grow your altar in cooperation and relationship to the Ancestors. The essential elements you will need to include are:

  1. An image or object to represent the Beloved Dead you are working with. Pictures when available are often used but other objects can be as well. For instance, I have the strings from the last guitar my grandfather played as well as his guitar pick on my altar. This is also where the use of sugar skulls comes in to play. The custom is to make (or buy) a sugar skull for each Ancestor you wish to honor. You write the name of the ancestor on the foil strip that is on top of the sugar skull’s head to designate that is is the stand-in for that particular ancestor. This is also why some altars have lots and lots of sugar skulls. Once the Days of the Dead are over you can remove the sugar skulls and set them out around your home where the late autumn rains and snows will melt them into the ground ensuring you have a sweet year ahead.
  2. A candle – any kind of candle works although beeswax is a traditional choice. Nowadays in San Antonio, I mostly see the glass-encased paraffin candles.
  3. Water – a glass or bowl of water is a mainstay on an Ancestor Altar because water is seen as both refreshing to the ancestors and it also creates a barrier between the living and the dead so that nothing gets confused.
  4. Incense – Copal resin is the scent of choice for many of us in the Southwest and Mexico but choose something that is pleasing to you and if possible that has resonance with your Beloved Dead. The presence of incense carries over into the marigold flowers you often see on Dia de Los Muertos altars – these flowers are associated with the dead because they have a pungent and sharp odor that allows the dead to find their way to the altar. For in several traditional understandings our Beloved Dead does not have possession of the senses we do. In fact, the only sense that is left fully intact is their sense of smell which is what they use to find their offerings and places of honor. This is why having a scent is so very important.
  5. Offerings – Offerings for the Dead call upon what they enjoyed in life. Where I live we make a special bread called pan de muerto which is offered, but we also offer up elaborate food: usually I whip up a batch of drinks using my family’s secret margarita recipe, add chips, salsa, cerveza, enchiladas, and tamales. I might make a big pot of chili and I always give my maternal grandfather a can of Big Red as that was one of his favorite indulgences.Offerings of tobacco and alcohol are also common. Some schools of thought encourage such offerings to be left out, but I have found that as long as the individuals being honored did not have a destructive addiction to their favorite substance it is fine to include it on the altar.It is fine to create a small plate of goodies and put that on the altar and then eat the rest of them yourself. A bunch of my family members are buried in a nearby military base so I make their margaritas and serve them up graveside!
  6. Flowers – these can be plastic, paper, fresh or dried. Flowers are not absolutely necessary but they do add a nice touch!

Timing
A very frequently asked question I receive is on the timing of all of this — when does the altar go up? When does the altar get taken down? What are the days when the altar is most active?

And the answer is…it depends. It depends on who your Beloved Dead are and what they want, it depends on your lineage and heritage, your culture, and traditions, and it depends on how you are working with your Beloved Dead.

It also depends, quite practically, on how long it is going to take you to create your altar. If you are working with a lot of ancestors and making lots of offerings then you obviously will want to give yourself more time.

All of that said, there are certain times of the year when it is especially auspicious to connect with your Ancestors. Some of those times are:

October 31st – Halloween/Samhain in some European traditions and it also kicks off the three days celebration known collectively as Dia de Los Muertos. Some folks build their altars on this day. Some choose to begin altar construction a week before, and some choose to build their altars beginning the day after Michaelmas (the Feast of Archangel Michael) on September 29th. There is a lot of Halloween/Samhain folklore out there pertaining to the Dead, probably the best known is the hosting of a Dumb Supper.

November 1st – El Dia de Los Innocentes or the Day of the Children (Innocents) – this is when children who died are especially honored and remembered. The altars are full of toys, sweets, maybe a favorite blanket or stuffed animal during this time. Children lost in miscarriages, stillborn, and aborted children are also traditionally honored during this time. The altar would be up and active by this point in time.

November 2nd – Dia de Los Muertos/Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead – this is the day when the Beloved Dead who are not children are honored – it is when we cook a lot of food! The altar is up and active at this point.

Once these days of the dead are over some folks take the altar down immediately. Some will leave the altar up past Thanksgiving (here in America) and some will leave the altar up through the Christmas season – which is also strongly associated with ghosts and the Beloved Dead, and take the altar down around Candlemas on February 2nd. Some (like our family) leave the altar up all year round because our relationship to our ancestors is ongoing.

Christmas/Yuletide Season – as previously mentioned, the days around Christmas and especially the Omen Days that follow Christmas are traditional times to make contact with ghosts and our Beloved Dead. Creating an altar during this season and/or refreshing an altar already built is a worthwhile endeavor.

Memorial Day – here in the U.S. the last Monday of the month of May is celebrated as Memorial Day and in the Deep South, it is known as Decoration Day. This is a traditional day when folks come together to clean up the cemeteries where their dead are buried, refresh their flowers and keep up their tombstones. It is also pretty typical for old time cemeteries to have their annual meeting on this day. Although it is in the thick of Spring this is a powerful time to contact your Beloved Dead, build or refresh their altars.

If you are working regularly with your Beloved Dead then the monthly upkeep of the altar is a good idea. You can work with the Dark Moons to clean off the altar and remove anything that does not belong and the Full Moon is a time to connect and commune with your Beloved Dead.

Communion
So, once you have your altar up and have decided to have an ongoing relationship with your Beloved Dead, then what? What do you do?

Traditionally we approach our ancestors the way we approach any Holy Helpers. We thank them for the goods and blessings in our lives and we ask them for whatever we have need of. In the case of our Beloved Dead we also welcome them, we feed them, we tell their stories to the younger generations, and we build an ongoing relationship with them. How do we do this? It depends on you and your family members, and what makes sense for you.

Simply the act of building your Beloved Dead a dedicated altar space and feeding them already lays a solid foundation for the relationship. You can speak to them, cook their favorite foods, play their favorite music, and write them a letter.

You can pray the prayers that they prayed in their honor and make special pilgrimages to the places that mattered to them. If you have household implements you inherited from your ancestors you may use them on a regular basis to further cement the relationship.

When my paternal grandmother passed away I did not receive much, but I did get a collection of the wooden spoons she cooked with (and the woman loved to cook) that I use whenever I cook. I always feel her presence with me during those times. The point is…these are your people, so you will have to decide what the best way of communing with them is.

Magic
Magic is deeply associated with our Ancestors and most of it incorporates divination of some kind. It is commonly believed that our Beloved Dead have the ability to “see” into the future in ways that we cannot. If you want to try your hand at this, here is one Ancestor-Informed Reading How-To I shared several years back.

Another very common way to work magically with our Beloved Dead is to appoint one (or more) of them as special protectors for the living. They typically line up to do this job, especially if they are being asked to protect and keep an eye out on children, ie, the Descendants. Seeking aid from your Beloved Dead in whatever situation needs help and support is also quite par for the course.

Typically this takes the form of making a petition, followed by an offering or a promise. As you work and get to know your Beloved Dead you will find that they will share other magics with you in due course.

However you choose to go about it, I wish you a happy, healthy, vibrant and wise relationship with your own Beloved Dead. Building altars to the Dead can be a fun and creative experience for you and your loved ones, not somber and grim duty. And as one friend from Mexico told me, don’t hold back. Have a party!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.