the neglected Kindred

The Ancestors are the Kindred most associated with the dark season: the season of death, cold, decay, the one we will consign the now-warm flesh of ourselves to during the moment of passage, whenever that may be. Of course, this only holds true in northern climes; for the Greeks, for example, the season of death was summer, when the sun burns the tender green into ash and cracked mud.

As a society, we fear death and isolate it, buying into myths of eternal life and youth. We try every potion, pill and machine to stave it off — or, more accurately, to stave off the deaths of loved ones who can no longer voice their desires. There are worse things than death, of course, although I hesitate to use that phrase, as it implies there’s something wrong with death in the first place.

I don’t think there is, quite frankly. And I’m not saying this as a way to chirp about a realm of neverending light and bliss, or any of the other fantasies we have about the Otherworld. Quite simply: we wear out, physically, mentally, emotionally. We are, in effect, mortal creatures. Death is a door to the great Elsewhere. Wherever it leads — even the black mirror of Void — it is beyond the failing limits of ourselves.

My grandmother, while she was dying of cancer, enthusiastically awaited this Great Elsewhere and its denizens. It was the next great adventure. Ancestors — the Beloved Dead as a Reclaiming priest once called them, a phrase I cherish — are simply those who have stepped through that door.

So, why can’t I connect?

I don’t mean connection in the sense of mediumship, visions, rituals. I mean a sense of beloved interrelationship — the same that I have with the Gods, and to a lesser extent the Nature Spirits. Perhaps it’s a matter of temperament; I’ve been called to the Gods’ service since I was a tyke and have been honoring them enthusiastically since early childhood. Perhaps that love and devotion eclipses other loves.

Or perhaps there’s another reason: I simply haven’t lost anyone close enough to me to crumble my world; I’ve had no reason to seek them out in the Isle of Apples. I joyfully cared for my dying grandmother, so I don’t think fear of death or dying necessarily factors into this; I am also painfully aware of the crazy tilt of time, and the endings all cycles require. Death is the leaves rustling under my feet, the small bodies of birds on the porch boards. Death is the 17-year-old cat that passed through that door little more than a week ago.

My omens recently have been idad/age and edad/amanita: seek visions of the Ancestors. I, too, will be among them someday, as will all those I love. Whether we stay in the Isle of Apples or head out onto our next lives quickly, I cannot say and honestly don’t believe that matters; time does not exist, and we are in multiple places — or even every place — at once. Our souls are not single, and they head to different places — all part of what we call I or self, but not the same I or self we know now.

I have a philosophical understanding of the Beloved Dead, but perhaps I need to make it more … conversational. Just as the Gods, they can communicate from Elsewhere.


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