So last night being the dark moon, I had witchy business to attend to. The problem? I finally succumbed to the upper respiratory infection that has been spreading throughout my college campus. I hemmed and hawed over what to do. Yes, I could cut a circle when I finally felt better and ritual as though it was the dark moon, but the problem with this rite lay in the fact that it was specifically for the dead and as I contemplated pushing the ritual off until later (which I had already done twice before for other reasons), I could *feel* them getting increasingly irritated and angry with me. No one wants to piss off their ancestors, so I decided to buck up and give them something small, but heartfelt, until I could muster up the energy to do things properly. Immediately after coming to this conclusion, I gathered up my offerings: a red candle dressed in Lawless’ Shades oil, water, honeyed milk and apple cider libations, and Ancestor incense. I wanted to offer some food too, but looking around my scarce pantry, I didn’t feel like anything I had was fine enough—which in hindsight was really very silly of me. I suppose that a PB&J sandwich would have been accepted by them if I offered it with respect and love, but I doubled up on the libations to make up for the lack of food.
Why am I posting on this? For a witch that is interested in working with the dead, this awkward rite was one of the first times I had ritualed specifically for them, and not treating them as a “plus one” in a rite for a deity (which I shamefully admit to doing often). The response to this offering, even though made by me in my pajamas while sniffling, hacking, and popping sudafed tablets, was overwhelming! There was an immediate increase in the pressure of the room (and no, it wasn’t just my stopped up sinuses causing it). They showed up quickly and in numbers. I had hallowed the space near the altar and sort of set up a boundary to keep them from wandering in on me in undesired settings (yeah, I’m paranoid like that). I let them hang out as long as they liked, letting them take their time in partaking of the offerings, and did a little divination with my astragalomancy set. When I slipped out of the bounded area to rest on my couch and blow my nose, they crowded around the edges of the circle, clearly interested in what was going on, and surveying my apartment. I had thought about masking the apartment from them, but since I invited my own ancestors (and only the ones who weren’t out to cause me trouble) it seemed like an ass move on my part. I will say, I will never again invite them in without having my apartment looking completely spotless. I realize that it’s a respect issue (which was part of the reason why I wanted to postpone the rite until after I’d recovered enough to pick up the place), but there are some ladies in my ancestral line that probably equated the cleanliness of their homes with feelings of personal self-worth. Needless to say, I got an “earful” over the state of my apartment. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, right?
Long story short, even though I (and my apartment) looked like a hot mess, and I was feeling tired and feeble, my ancestors clearly appreciated the gesture. I had originally been under the impression that I was supposed to ritual to Hermes and Askalaphus again, but as I was gathering my supplies, Hermes sort of tapped me on my shoulder and I had a sudden realization that this was supposed to be a transitory rite, meant for the dead this time, not as much for the deities. I still offered some incense and gin to them, and for some reason Hermes seemed very partial to the Abramelin incense that night. Oddly enough, his incense burned strangely fast, as in the whole stick had converted to ash in about 5 minutes. The incense stick seemed to mirror his behavior that night where he showed up only briefly, and was primarily focused on getting me to talk and offer to the dead. Divination confirmed that I shouldn’t rush into things when working with the dead, that building a relationship is the most important part, and to neglect that is to invite trouble.
Admittedly, I had always been a little hesitant to offer to my ancestors in my own home because I was scared that what I had to offer wouldn’t be “good enough” somehow, or that I turn out to be a disappointment to them. Pure silliness on my part. While I did get a mini lecture on my housekeeping, they seemed truly happy to be remembered and I finally feel much more confident about working with them and any weird low self-esteem issues about creating and maintaining a link to my ancestral dead are gone.