Preparing for death, the witch annoints himself with the deadly ointment. Though typically used medicinally or to aid flight to the Otherworld, the plants brewed in the unguent speak of aid offered today as well. Mandrake, Henbane, Belladonna, Mugwort, Dittany of Crete, Jasmine… Plants of death and spirit work. No medicine or flight will be needed today, merely a small dab for scent and to have these allies near.
His hand he jewels in Lapis, a stone he sees of Saturn. Around his neck, a silver toad skull, that Toad may aid this transition into a new place and state. In black he goes, but not in total sorrow. He knows death, not as the end, but as a doorway to change.
Around her, her loved ones stand, they pray to their god, led by a pastor. Speaking praises to him. That he forgive her of her sins, that he take her into Heaven. They pray that she may be an angel.
Among them, the witch holds a secret conversation of his own, speaking to their shared ancestors; the mothers, sisters, and nieces passed. He feels their presence in the room as he asks their attendance. “Aid her passing, ease her pain and fears. Take her swiftly and gently. Welcome her to our line long forgotten, that she may find peace in the Otherworld.”
The healers, unable to heal, release their hold upon her life and she takes her last few breaths. Swiftly gone, but remaining. Unseen, but not forgotten. She is with them now.
Saying farewell to the last of my family that I was ever really close to and spent a lot of time with, I ponder ancestor veneration in various cultures as well as within witchcraft. How my own views and responses to death and the afterlife differ from other people’s beliefs.
Typically I only call upon ancestors at times of death, for others. Feeling them again, and a greater sense of peace with family in general these days, despite not seeing them for the most part, I wonder how I could work it into my practice. What offerings would be appropriate for each. How I would want to go about it.
Painting – Alexander Dmitrievich Litovchenko, “Charon carries souls across the river Styx”