As I told a bunch of my online friends today, AKHU ARE IN THE AIR.
I don’t know what it is about that deepening fall twilight that makes me feel more intent on what I can or should be doing for my akhu. I’ve always felt a deep reverence that I find lacking throughout much of the rest of the year in October. I know in certain, specific, instances there are reasons behind it. For example, this upcoming Saturday is the twenty-second anniversary of my daddy’s death. (And he’ll be gettin’ a post all about that and what I did for him.) So, in part, I think it is due to the general depression I can feel in regards to this month and the significance certain dates therein hold for me. (I have other, darker, anniversaries coming up this month, too.) But, I think that the real reason is because, as the pagans say, the veil is thinning.
“The Celts believed that the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead was very thin on Samhain Eve, just as it was on Beltaine and Midsummer’s Eve. When the veil thinned, the souls of those who had died during the previous year could enter the Summerland. The living could also journey into the land of the Dead,” as found at Shaman’s Well. While I don’t quite hold with this since what I practice and the holidays I celebrate are not Celtic in nature, I think the generalized discussion about the thinning veil is more than appropriate.
It’s possible that, in our American culture, because of the deathly and horror associations we find in regards to Halloween are the reason for these feels of mine, I honestly think it has more to do with the veil actually being thin. How many other death-related holidays are coming up in different cultures? I have all the fun and excitement of the voodoo related death holidays coming up; there are Catholic and Christian ones; the Celtic ones…
So, I think it’s safe to say that it’s just that time of the year and that, you know, maybe the veils are thin. For someone who is usually very insensitive to death activity, I can’t help but make note that this past Saturday, I did, indeed, feel Deadz around me at the second cemetery I visited (you know, the one that ate my camera). I don’t usually. I don’t usually hear people or feel like people are sneaking up behind me when in a cemetery – in actuality, my feelings in regards to cemetery are places of calm, cool, collection, contemplative thought. It’s very relaxing, actually, for me to do my grave-tending duties. There have been other instances that I’ve chalked up to being overtired or having not eaten enough or healthy enough foods. These, I think, are all symptoms of that thinning veil.
Since I’ve been feeling so galvanized lately, I’ve been working on trying to find my great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents. Let me first explain something because I think this may convey some points that I don’t think I adequately conveyed in my Toxic Akhu post (link below). These are not actual relatives of mine. When I think relative, I think of someone who is genetically tied to a body in some way. However, these ancestors are from my father’s side of the family and as I’ve mentioned, though I call him my daddy, he really and truly is not. Still, the relatives I’m looking into aren’t even his relations, either. They are the parents and grandparents of his step-father. (My daddy’s family likes the whole divorce and remarry and gettin’ along together mishmash thing so very much.) But, while I know that these people aren’t necessarily good people – there’s a reason that there aren’t any Lafleurs around anymore and I’m pretty positive that my papa let the line die out on purpose – I don’t think they should be left behind. I don’t think they should be forgotten. Besides, isn’t there something in somewhere about forgotten Deadz being a pain in the ass? If we remember them, then doesn’t that keep their spirits fed and happy and unable to do mischief?
Anyway, so I’ve been pretty gung-ho about this. Most of the family is buried in the same cemetery, it’s only been a matter of finding out where. Since no one from that family was rolling around in dough, this mean that I had to actually ask for help in finding their gravestones. They all had flat stones that probably didn’t cost so much and they were all buried in no real proximity to one another. And here I was, hoping there would be a great, big family stone of Lafleurs to look into! Not in the slightest. Everyone was in their own area, ignoring one another. (And really, that’s the feeling I got about that and I think that says something about the family line, as a whole.) After looking into Frank and Flora (great-great-grandparents) and looking into Florence and Edward, Sr (great-grandparents) and looking into Teddy (great-uncle) and all of that, this made me want to look up more. Where were Flora’s relations? What about Frank’s? And how come no one on my daddy’s side has thought about doing intensive genealogical research on that line? Or, if they have, am I just unaware?
But, while I’m doing the research and hunting it out for family relations that don’t share a drop of my blood, I’m also planning and plotting for the upcoming events. You see, there are is a big set of voodoo related holidays at the end of October and into November. We’ve all heard of them and read about them, or at least come into contact with them. And while I really loved Miss Dirty’s ideas about what to do for the ancestors (linked below), it was a lot. She does her holidays around Christmas and Christmas time is already stressful enough. So, this year, I’m doing the big, the bold, the crazy around the voodoo holidays.
Now, in the Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook by Denise Alvarado, she talks about multiple holidays. Her tradition is New Orleans voodoo, which is similar but entirely different from Haitian Vodou, she mentions that there are four major holidays coming up to celebrate. On October 30 and 31, masses are sung in Roman Catholic churches, communion table of forty scarves of different colors are laid out. Halloween, specifically, is “to make hallowed before the rites of the ancestors and to dispel evil forces through disguise and trickery.” (P75) Then we have the Day of the Dead on November 1, which is when rites to the akhu are held, in according with familial and ethnic traditions. This is followed up by Fet Ghede on November 2, and this is when the lives of the akhu are celebrated. So, while I’m not going to do all of this fun stuff, I am planning some big and major things to come for these holidays.
One of the things that bothers me about all of this work is that I don’t have much of an altar to give to my akhu. This is one of the items that I broke down and removed when I started getting rid of furniture. And I’ll admit that the area the altar was in was difficult to access and because it wasn’t in my face all the time (like my other shrines), I mostly forgot to honor them. While I am planning on using my entire kitchen table for the October/November celebrations coming up, I would like to put them into a home. And after seeing something on Tumblr about an ancestral box, I think I’ve found out what I can put them in. Now, it’s a matter of figuring out what to put inside.
I have come up with some ideas on what to place in the box, besides the usual photographs. I’m thinking of trying to find a black rosary for the Catholic Lafleur relations and then a pink one for my maternal grandmother. I want a unicorn statue for my paternal grandmother because she had a music snow globe of a unicorn in her kitchen and it always stuck with me. I want a picture of my dad and a plaid shirt, or a bit of one. I’m not sure what else to put in there and for who. I want, maybe, a fragment of a headstone for all of the forgotten Deadz that I grave-tend. I would, also, like to place graveyard dirt from certain graves (my daddy, my paternal grandmother, for instance) inside. Aside from that, I’m not quite sure what else to put in there but I know that I have some ideas and I can jump off of the ones I have to get more stuff for the rest of them.
It would be nice for all of them to have a home.
- Grave-Tending Two Cemeteries by Satsekhem.
- Toxic Akhu by Satsekhem.
- Approaching My Ancestors by A E Goddard.
- Sviata Vechera 2011 by Ms. Dirty.
- Working on An Ancestor Box by Priestess in Training.