by: Hannah Goodman
Finally after many years banished to wander in strange lands, my feet touch my homeland. I never thought I would find my way back home again. Home. Here I am full again, here I am whole. Some people may be made for traveling, only living when they are on a journey. I am not one of those kind. I need to be where my people are from, where I know they lived and died, all connected by blood. This is my source of power, the land, the sky and my family. Othala in its true form, rune of the homeland and the ancestors. The ancestors came on the wagon trains and planted their roots here, the prairie calls only a few and settles into their blood, into their bones. My family has lived in this area so long that I am related to almost everyone. Its easy to count those who I am not a relation to. I am a scion of the hardy pioneers who did not tame this land, but became a part of it. They knew hardship and deprivation like we have never even known and brought us forth to live better and easier than they had it. Every parent wants better for their children and thus is the line of the ancestor is built.
Isn’t every family filled with some dysfunction? I think so, damn I hope so! While I find my power in my homeland and family, they still have their problems, trust that. In all the messed up things families can do to each other there is always that one person who came come and pick up the pieces and put them back together. They are the glue. My great-grandma was that person. She was the matriarch of the family. No matter what happened or what you did, she never made you feel bad about it. She would offer a warm hug and a kind word and most importantly a prayer. I have wandered far from the religious path I was raised on. One thing I do know, that when my great-grandma prayed, you were golden. I don’t care what she prayed to, but when she did it was filled with love, the deepest truest love. Her prayer was her expression of the love of a mother for her child, the love of a grandma for her grandchildren. Her prayers were magic! I was gone from her for a long time, but in that time she saved my life. For that I gave her my word that I would make her proud and turn myself around. My word is a bond of steel. Since then I have had four amazing children, and I try to be as good of a mother as she wanted me to be. I have 10 years off of drugs coming up. I do not look at my duty as a burden; I see it as my chance to rise! She gave me a second chance, and for that I can never repay her. Nothing will stop me from trying though! A few months after I made it back home, she passed away. I almost feel that she waited for me to come home before she would allow herself to die. I feel vindicated in that thought.
In my family we don’t really have funerals, we hold a Celebration of Life. If truth were told, we unmistakably made a celebration of life for my great-grandma. Her name was Viva Wynona Lockwood and she was one day to turning ninety-nine. The year she was born fell on the summer solstice, which I find rather cool. We got to celebrate her life experiences; there was joy and laughter, some sorrow and sadness, and most of all love. I want to love like that and be loved the same way. Ninety-nine years of love. Sure she had rough times, I mean she lived through the dust bowl out here. I m sure that some days she would feel like hanging it all up and saying ‘No more of this”, don’t we all? But think! 99 YEARS OF LOVE!!!!! That was the ultimate message I finally received just today! The legacy of the ancestors is the love that is in family. It overcomes all odds and puts aside all differences. I am lucky and proud to have my great-grandma in the hall of my ancestors whom I can gain wisdom, love and protection for my family line and me for eternity. That is the true power of our ancestors, may we offer our love and our actions to honor them always.
This is my personal “Celebration of Life” ritual I designed just for my great grandma and I plan to do it repeatedly over my lifetime to honor her and connect with her in a special way.
My altar is actually in a cupboard, four kids later, and things strangely disappear if they are left on an open altar. That’s a trick from a mama witch, store it in your back pocket. I have several things left to me from my grandma, I have her glass lamps, a bedspread she crocheted for my grandmas wedding bed, many small trinkets and I also place my Great-Aunt Phyllis’s turquoise bracelet on the altar as well. When I do this I place the blanket o the altar with a picture of how I remember her, (in) the altar are her wedding photographs, she and my great-grandpa , and a picture of their wedding day with her family. Then I had some lilac incense for this. I placed rose quartz all around, and lit a pink candle. I say:
May my life be a blessing
Showing honor to my clan
I surround you with my love
I shower you with care
I hope to never be transgressing
Find pride in all I do
Protect me from above
And teach us all to love
Mentally I connect with my grandma, and I sit for while tell her all I need to say and ask her for a response, a dream, a feeling, or just a thought. We are only separated from our past loved ones by the thinnest veil, they are with us always.