Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Witch of this Place- Essay 2, Working W/ the Dead

I decided the best way to start working with the dead is to visit cemeteries. I am determined to visit every single cemetery in Tallapoosa County. Yesterday I went to Shiloh Cemetery which is located on Hwy 50 just before Churchill Road. I picked Shiloh simply because I have never been in it. Shiloh is old, but it's still in use. The newer part is in better shape than the old section. There is no church. Cemeteries attached to churches are generally well maintained. Cemeteries that rely on the families to maintain them don't fair as well because most people are only willing to care for their own family plot.

I wasn't going to do magick, just to explore and get a feel for the energy. Still, I followed the rules, just to be polite. If you are going to do any kind of magickal, ritual, or spellwork in a cemetery, you must ask permission from Oya, Queen of Cemeteries. Stand outside the entrance and ask if you can enter. It really helps if you bring an offering for Oya. I had 9 pennies and 9 dimes. I asked politely and clearly stated why I had come. I heard crows, so I knew Oya answered me. Do not enter until you receive an answer. No answer means don't go in.

Always ask Oya for protection. You don't want anything following you home. It helps to wear some kind of protective jewelry. I wore an onyx necklace.

I made gravestone rubbings. I really like the art on old tombstones. New stones lack in imagination. I got a rubbing of a lily, a rose, a dove, ivy vines, and a masonic symbol. Every time I made a rubbing, I left a dime at the grave. You take something, you leave payment.

Most of the graves were so old the names had worn away. There were lots of children's graves, most of whom died before the age of 3. There were a few Civil War soldiers, and more women than men.

One stone was funny. I kid you not, the name was T. V. Land It was a woman's grave, and I made a rubbing of the name just because I was amused.

For each rubbing I made, I wrote the grave's name and dates on the back. If I decided to do anything kind of spellwork, I'll have a list of who is buried where. I'll make a file for each cemetery so my rubbings stay organized. This will be useful to any historians I meet who want to share information. Cemeteries tend to get lost. Families die out or move away, the trees reclaim the land, churches fall, and people forget. There were a few places in Shiloh that possibly contained unmarked graves. Places where plain field stones were laid out in rows, but the bushes and sapling grew all around. All those graves or just rocks? It's hard to tell. Without records we may never know.

When I left Shiloh, I thanked Oya for letting me visit. I asked that the dead remain in peace. I had good feelings about the place, so I didn't do anything else. If I had a bad feeling, I would have come home and bathed. That's a good idea anyway in the summer because of fleas, ticks, and poison ivy.

I know I will have to go back. I want to pick up trash and sweep off stones. I wish I had planned out my trip a little better so I could have been more prepared. For a cemetery trip, I usually bring trash bags, a first aid kit, paper and crayons, and a camera. Maps are helpful too. Sometimes cemeteries aren't marked. Also it gives you perspective- why did people bury the dead in this place? Was it handy? Did they live close by? Was this the first settlement? Sometimes cemeteries are way off in the woods with no towns nearby. What happened? Why did everyone leave?

I think next Saturday I'll go to a cemetery where my ancestors are buried. I like going on Saturday because people are in church in Sunday. Church-goers love to convert people. I hate that. I'm out there doing my thing, not bothering anybody and some busybody marches over demanding to know what I'm doing, like I'm trespassing. I usually say I'm researching my family tree. Then they question my linage. When they're satisfied I'm not worshiping Satan or vandalizing stones, they start telling me how great the church is and I should come next Sunday. And here's where things get sticky. When I say no, they get hostile. They want to know why. If I say I'm not a church person, they begin preaching. The best answer is usually to say I already have a church, but then I get asked where. And if I'm in the cemetery on Sunday, why am I not in my church? Saturdays are less of a problem.

Since people are nosy, I have never done a spell in a cemetery. I usually collect graveyard dirt and go home. The best way to collect graveyard dirt without being suspicious is to bring flowers. Pretend you are worried about the container falling over and add dirt. Then you can scoop up extra to take with you or later you can come back for the container which now contains graveyard dirt. You only need a little bit. A shovelful is overkill. If you are not using the dirt immediately, make sure you label it. All dirt looks the same in plastic bags. And don't forget the payment.

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