Reblogged: Should We Honor All The Dead?

January 8, 2012 at 12:39 am (Death and Dying, Spiritual) (, , , , , , )

A moving piece by Wintersong Tashlin, my lover and fellow clan member, about honoring the dead we’d rather forget.

A sample:

“That said, it bothers me when I see friends, colleagues, and co-religionists, who wish to have it both ways at once. The Dead are deserving of respect and honor, yet people think nothing of wishing ill on specific individuals who no longer walk among the living. Can we curse the name of the deceased saying “this person is undeserving of honor or acknowledgment” or even “may their soul wander forever, never finding peace” while also saying “We honor the Dead as a whole, for they walked these roads before us” without declaring that we are empowered to usurp the place of the Fates in passing judgement?”

I find this article interesting from two different perspectives:

1. When my birth father died, I felt guilty because I wasn’t entirely sad about it. He was abusive to me and my family in numerous ways, and by the time he died he had alienated all of us and was living on his own in a hovel apartment. When I went up there to help deal with the aftermath, it was clear that most of his family felt similarly; I basically planned his funeral single-handedly and was the only person willing to eulogize him. Now, on his birthday and Samhain, I always leave him offerings of food he likes, and if I feel him ask, I will smoke a single cigarette for him. (I quit years ago, but he was a three-pack-a-day smoker to the day he died, and it was the smoking that killed him.)

2. When I die, there will be family and friends who will honor my passing. However, after a year or two, that will likely dwindle down to a select few, and they will eventually grow old and die too. Because I do not have any children, the only youth who may have any feelings about me are my godchildren. But I’m pretty sure that once the shine of my death has worn off, most people will go on and only think of me once in a blue moon. That’s totally okay. But very few, if any, people will be invoking or honoring me as part of their Ancestral Dead. I also know that there are people who will be happy that I have passed. So I am glad that there are shamans that the Gods have tagged to honor those among the dead who don’t have anyone else to do it for them, for one reason or another.

So go check out Winter’s entry. I think you’ll like it.

Should We Honor All the Dead?



  1. michaelwatsonvt said,

    My teachers always said people got enlightened once they died. That seems to be true. They also did the best they could. Might as well honor that, and their new status. It is a good thing to do.

  2. dying for a diagnosis said,

    I dunno, Michael. Whether you believe that living people can talk to dead people, my experience of conversing with my dead birth father shows him to be somewhat the same person – even after all he’s been through, the one thing he asks me for more than anything else is to smoke “for him” – but without him, I would be a radically different person. So maybe it’s a bit selfish, but if nothing else I honor the part of me he was.

    I tell clients all the time that “we all think we’re good drivers”. When you’re out on the highway, you point at all the other motorists’ problems (for example, my spouse loves to point out the “water solulable driving skills” of Marylanders) without ever noticing their own. I believe both the living and the dead all think they did the best they could with what they had on hand, and I try to remember that as often as possible. It doesn’t always work. (See my “Crash” entry.)

  3. Raven Kaldera said,

    I’m one of two who have charge of the trans dead, so you’ll be on my plate anyway if you croak before me.

    Our tradition doesn’t say that dead people get enlightened when they die. However, there is the ritual of elevating the Dead – here’s a northernized version:

    …for those who have recent Dead who were problematic beforehand, and problematic afterwards. It requires a lot of time and effort, and most aren’t willing to put that in. But it is one way to do things.

    -Raven Kaldera, one of those shamans…

    • dying for a diagnosis said,

      The idea of “being on your plate” makes me want to get an actual dinner plate with my smiling face on it…but I appreciate it nonetheless.

    • Bri Broken said,

      I read this post and was moved to mention that my husband has the duty of helping and remembering the trans dead, as someone who happens to have been helped by Raven to remove cursed ties to his birth bloodline and was then adopted by the trans dead. So there’s at least one other living person who would be accessible to you, and hear you and try to help if you needed something, assuming that he was still alive at that point. (By extension, this applies to me as well, since we often do our spiritual work as a unit, rather than separately; at least, that has been our experience on this path so far.)

  4. psychevida said,

    It seems a lot like the question of honoring the living, doesn’t it? I believe that there is divinity within all life, a spark of creation, of the sacred… and that spark deserves to be honored in both the living and the dead.

    However, there are those individuals who do not honor the divinity within themselves and do not manifest it in their actions and behaviors toward others… it seems neither appropriate nor inappropriate that they are not honored or respected in life, or after… simply a natural consequence.

    Your birth father is blessed by your honoring of him and perhaps he receives something from this, but the graces are yours and you will certainly have more than shamans chanting your memory.

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