Dead August

I've been feeling a strong pull to work more and more with the Dead this year. Between the Dionysian Dead theme (most of which was behind the scenes) for the Filled With Frenzy ritual and my own tradition of August being the Dead Time (which has multiple meanings), I've been putting off getting really deeply into it until the start of August. Now I'm devoting August to work with the Dead: the Dionysian Dead, the Hekataian Dead, the Ancestors, the Many Dead of the Litany. Any Dead.

I kicked it off with the ritual group Bakcheion's private offerings and prayers to the Dead on Friday Night. I dressed in what became my "adventuring clothes" for the weekend, a black shirt with many tiny silver foil stars and black leggings with rhinestones up the side seams, plus my Dead Mask, a custom piece by my friend Dmitri at Tormented Artifacts made specifically for my ritual work with the Dead. I found myself at the lead of our procession (oops, I hadn't looked up where the park was; I put myself in the hands of Hekate, and found it anyhow). Originally, this had been a thing I meant to do for myself ahead of time. I told Sannion I was doing it, and he said, "Can I come?" Sure, I told him. "Can other people come?" Sure, but I don't write rituals for people, I'm just going to make the offering and say the prayers and that's it. "That's fine." Only we got to where I decided we were going, and I turned around and everyone was staring at me, expectantly. Well, shit. So I took the verses of the Litany that I wanted to use for the night, and made them a call-and-response.

We pray to the Many Dead
We pray to the Many Dead
All over the world and throughout history
All those who have gone before me
We remember you, and hold you in my prayers
We pray to the Many Dead
We pray to the Many Dead

We pray to the Beloved Dead
We pray to the Beloved Dead
Our ancestors of flesh and spirit 

We remember the names of those We knew
We praise those whose names have been lost to me
We pray to the Beloved Dead
We pray to the Beloved Dead

We pray to the Blessed Dead
We pray to the Blessed Dead
Those who lived great lives 

Those who were the chosen of gods

May you continue in joy and glory below
We pray to the Blessed Dead
We pray to the Blessed Dead

We pray to the Restless Dead
We pray to the Restless Dead
You whose names go unspoken
You who died with things undone
May you find release at last

We pray to the Restless Dead
We pray to the Restless Dead

We pray to the Dionysian Dead
We pray to the Dionysian Dead
To the Children of Earth and Starry Heaven
Whom we hope someday to join
May you revel forever at our Lord’s side
We pray to the Dionysian Dead
We pray to the Dionysian DeadWe pray to the Many Dead
We pray to the Many Dead
All over the world and throughout history
All those who have gone before us
We remember you, and hold you in our prayers
We pray to the Many Dead
We pray to the Many Dead

I told them that I had an offering, a promise, to make to the Dead, that anyone who wished to was welcome to repeat the lines after me, but that it was heavy, and they might not want to. Much to my surprise, two or three of them joined in, repeating each line without knowing what the next might be.

I pray to the Silent Dead
You have no voice; use my tongue to speak
You have nothing not given to you; take my offerings
You are with us always; let me know you
I pray to the Silent Dead

Which is scary, when you think about it, but that's what this August is about for me.

And then I had done everything I meant to do, and they were still all staring at me. So I asked them if anyone else wanted to say anything to the Dead. That seemed to work.

I performed the Invitation to the Dionysian Dead at the main ritual, too.

Blessed Dead!
Who walked, parched, past the river!
Who found the spring of Memory!
Who knew to say that you were
Children of Earth and Starry Heaven!
We are children of the same parents!
We cannot yet come drink with you.
We invite you to come and dance with us now!

So that worked well for me.

Sunday was wrapping up with Bakcheion and some Starry Bull stuff and food and chocolate coming home, and Monday was rest-and-recovery day, and I didn't do much. Today I'm waking up again. I'm reading some of my posts from last August, organizing a list of more ghost stories to read and watch. I need to finally haul upstairs the cabinet to use for my Ancestor Shrine, and assemble that. I'm going to spend time this month trying to finish the verses of the Litany to the Many Dead, to be edited next month, and hopefully released in October, so other people can use it for memorials and rituals in that month.

August is the Dead Time, but the Dead can be busy.