A few weeks back my fellow Brodepti and I took a field trip. Apart from our regularly planned dinner at a bar to discuss magical things, community stuff, our current work and things about which to be aware we decided we would take a trip to a local cemetery. There are three in the area I want to visit, one because it's near me, one because it has a folk legend associated with a statue that has since been removed, and one to find a relative. Hanging with other magicians seemed the perfect opportunity to check one of the cemetery visits off the list.
My town does not have a lot of cemeteries. In fact, I believe we just have one historical one, with the other more active ones all being in the neighboring city, or in other towns adjacent to us. The one we have though is essentially walking distance from me, maybe about a 10 minute walk, and I pass it multiple times a week just going to and fro. So it seemed like the most reasonable option for creating a relationship with the local dead.
I work with my ancestors quite a bit, but with the exception of my father, none of them lived in my town. Obviously most spirits with whom we interact won't be ones tied to our locality, but our location can be a big factor in our magic. So we should make connections with the local nature spirits, with the land itself on which we reside, and with natural features that are nearby, particularly if they impact us our our communities.
Working with local magic helps in a few ways. It connects the work you're doing to forces already tied to the place where you are likely looking to have your impact manifest. Other people in your area may interact with or be impacted by local spiritual forces even if they aren't aware of it. These spirits might also have concerns related to things around you, or connections giving them greater influence over things around you. If you're dealing with a spirit that means something to the people of your community, like one which is associated with a natural formation, or a folk legend, or the spirit of a local hero or historical figure there is also a significant local awareness that feeds and empowers that spirit within the environment in which you're working.
So, don't overlook your surroundings.
Creating ties to the local cemetery is something I've wanted to do for awhile, and it's something I still have further work to do to deepen. But this was essentially what was involved in my first step.
We went to the cemetery with offerings, and supplies for our work. We went a little before dusk on a weekend, so that while hopefully there wouldn't be a lot of people around, it wouldn't be completely unusual or suspicious if someone happened upon us since it wasn't at night. This particular cemetery is an historical cemetery and so there are no gates or walls, it just sits right along one of the town's most major roads, next to a building run by one of the biggest land developers in the state. So it's not particularly discreet, but it's also somewhere no one really goes these days. We were unlikely to be bothered, still, we chose our time cautiously, and I carried four bay leaves in my pocket, one to hide us in each of the four directions.
When we got there we set to work looking for the oldest grave. The first body buried in a cemetery is that cemetery's equivalent to the first man to die, the ancestor of all ancestors who oversees the passage between life and death and the people who live in the space of the dead, the cemetery. They're basically the head honcho spirit for that location. Now, admittedly, my planning was poor here. I did not look up who it was before hand. One of the other Brodepti decided to contact her town's historical society and they were able to tell her which graves were the oldest in her local cemetery. So I would advise anyone engaging in such an endeavor to start by doing that.
Since we didn't know the grave we were looking for, we searched through row by row, eventually we found a plaque that explained the history of the cemetery, including when the church was built and when they decided to begin using it as a cemetery. Most of the oldest graves were 160 years old, and so many were pretty worn, we settled on a head stone which seemed to be the oldest marked grave. The individual there was laid to rest within the year following the opening of the church, and so she seemed a good candidate for the oldest, and if not the oldest, at least a reasonably respectable contender to a position of importance within the cemetery.
We began by taking snow (in less wintery weather dirt or salt or one of the libations could be used) and making a three-way crossroads on the grave and making prayers to Hekate, and prayers to the gods and goddesses of the land of the dead to grant us access to the spirit of the person laid there, and to join her in receiving the offerings which we would now make.
We then poured out libations of wine, honey, milk, and olive oil on the grave with prayers to strengthen the spirit, stir it to life,to give it sustenance, and to remind it of the pleasant things in the world of the living. We left cakes of grain and fruit to further feed the spirit and asked that we might form an alliance with it and take a small amount of dirt from her grave as a connection to her.
Once we had completed our work with that spirit we took whiskey and more cakes and laid them out in a place towards the center of the patch of graves but in a space where no one was buried and we made an offering to the dead of the cemetery in general and asked for the same friendship with them, and to be allowed to take dirt from the cemetery generally as well.
So in addition to linking to the specific ancestor of the cemetery we linked to the cemetery itself, and had both grave dirt and graveyard dirt to bring home for magical work and for installing in our ancestor altars in order to further feed and develop that connection, and to empower our own dead further by linking them to a local place of power and soil rich with the presence of the dead.
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