Sunday, January 29, 2012

Grieving ritual

I found a few prayers for those passing from this realm into the next one in my Book of Pagan Prayers and started out my ritual last night with those, after lighting the candles for the gods above and below.  And after lighting the incense and waving it around myself and the altar.

Then, without a lot of forethought, I picked up the chrysanthemum stone, which I use to represent Persephone on my altar, and held it to my cheek while I prayed, "Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, whisper in Hades' ear that David was only 24 years old and never got the chance to have a wife and family.  Whisper in Hades' ear that David was kind to my son, an Eagle Scout and cheery fellow." I think I asked her to whisper more things but those are the only ones I can remember. The response I received was nearly palpable.  I felt a charge of energy that absolutely permeated my body, making it tingle and all the hairs on my arms stand on end.

But most of all, I felt so at peace afterward, so comforted.  Hades gets a bad rep, mostly because we, as humans, tend to fear death and the deities responsible for the dead.  But also a huge chunk of misrepresentation belongs to the Christian fathers and early writers who associated Hades with hell and Satan.  Just as they did Pan.  While I'm not eager to cross the river Styx anytime soon, I'm not afraid of Hades anymore.  I think the mythologies deal most with the fears people had about themselves than real stories of the gods.  I don't see Hades as a rapist, or an evil being who is in charge of sending souls to damnation.  Not at all.  Mostly I see him as a neutral figure, doing the job required of him in a dispassionate way.  I think Persephone is his partner, the balance to his neutrality by offering up the earthy, animated aspects of human beings.

Wishful thinking?  Imagination?  Perhaps.  But when I approach my altar to pray, I can only go by the response I feel, knowing that it's purely subjective.  I could be wrong, of course.  But what harm does it do to believe in the deities as they respond to me?

I also acknowledged Hermes, since he is the one who carries the souls to the Underworld.  It must be a very hard thing to bring those freshly separated from their bodies, probably full of confusion and questions.  Particularly those who had different ideas about the afterlife. Or perhaps he appears to each one as the deity they expect to see when they cross that river.

Not saying my view of this is either the right one or the only one.  Not at all.  But these are the gods I pray to and these are the ones who have comforted me when I grieved.  So these are the ones I envision taking care of the tasks of ferrying and caring for the dead.

At any rate, it was a wonderful experience and helped me sort out a lot of my anger and grief over war and the deaths of too many young people over a war that we had no business starting. But then, those who start most of the wars never actually participate in them.  Do they?  No, they send other people's children to die for their oil or religion or revenge.

I will remember the ritual and write it down in my notebook for a future time.  It was absolutely what I needed last night.



  1. I'm glad you found comfort in a time of mourning. How beautiful your relationship is with Persephone and Hades. I never have seen him as a rapist or evil God either, he is the Dark. He has a place, and I love him.

    1. Thanks, Hippy. I've been drawn to the dark all my life and never really knew why. Now that I've begun to know the gods of the dark, it makes sense to me. I love him, too. :)

  2. Wonderful. I am glad it comforted you and you got to spend some time enjoying your faith.

    And I agree with you on Hades. There are several Gods who get a bad rap. Death is part of the cycle. We don't look down on the Crone for this, why should Hades get treated badly.


    1. Thanks so much! And so true, Cin. Hermes is another god who gets a bad rap for being a trickster and a bit too cavalier, not to mention his job of carrying the souls to the underworld, but he's done right by me too many times to mention. :)

      And thanks for the hug. I can always use those. :)