Lesson 16: Graveyards in Witchcraft - Part 2
By: Mama Bones
Live class date and time: 1/31/2017 at 4pm CST
A.) Legalities: I am ever the paralegal, so I’m going to include this section again. It will be similar to my last class, but I don’t want it to be overlooked or forgotten. Again, the graveyard I mainly work with borders my 3 acre property directly and is not regularly maintained. This allows to me to fudge some rules. HOWEVER- let me lay some groundwork legality clauses for the general witch:
1.) Do not enter after dark. It is illegal in most states.
2.) Do not bring glass into the cemetery
3.) Do not light more than a tea/small votive/prayer candle and always hold the tea candle yourself (do not set on ground)
4.) It’s best to not disclosure your craft to anyone asking what you’re doing. Just say you’re visiting (and wanted to honor your relative’s memory if a candle is lit)
5.) ALWAYS do as an employee/pastor/policeman asks. Even if it may be technically legal and they’re just uncomfortable, it’s better to de-escalate the situation and leave. You can either come back at a different time or find a different graveyard.
6.) Bring flowers
to appear more normal! They also make great offerings!
7.) Do not remove ANYTHING from a gravestone site. Ever. However, do feel free to dispose of obvious trash about the graveyard as a whole (soda cans, food wrappers, cigarette butts, etc.). It’s polite and the spirits will respect you for it.
I begin by making sure I’m dressed appropriately for the weather. I like to spend at least an hour there, assuming I’m not interrupted and it’s important I don’t get too hot or too cold.
I frequently bring a light jacket/hoodie in summer regardless though, because spirit work can bring down your temperature sensation in general regardless of the normal ambient degrees outside (i.e. communing with spirits makes you chilly).
I make sure I have all the supplies I’ll need.
I have a small messenger bag/purse I bring. I don’t recommend anything larger. Don’t bring a huge backpack- it’s suspicious. This items include:
ritual/communing jewelry (including protective jewelry so I don’t get
overwhelmed- protection is still important even when actively seeking out
2.) My offerings (I like honey packets, pomegranate seeds, flowers, or a particular incense/oil blend I use for spirit work.)
A book (I love to read to spirits, especially the children)
4.) My graveyard pad/blanket (I’ll be doing a tutorial on this soon, but basically it’s a small thicker blanket with discreet sigils and herbs sewn in to protect me and boost spirit communication. Protects my tush from the ground and my body from the spirits).
5.) Water bottle (talking and reading makes me thirsty)
6.) Comfy shoes that are easy to slip on and off (you don’t have to take your shoes off at all for spirit work, but I like to as a sign of respect- like taking your shoes off when you go into a friends house. I only do it on my graveyard pad though- not at the entrance or anything)
7.) My phone- not only for basic communicating in case of emergency, but also because I like to play music for the spirits sometimes. I make sure the songs I want to play are easily accessible.
I also make sure Zoe is ready, as I
almost always bring her with me. She is leashed, although I tend not to hold it
since she’s well-trained in recall.
Note: Though I don’t recommend bringing pets unless you’re experienced with both spirits and your pet, I will say if you do bring a dog always have your dog on a leash in a graveyard and don’t let go unless you are alone and you are 100% confident in their recall/non-running away. Keep in mind Zoe is my familiar of 5 years and is comfortable with my graveyard work. She is not skittish in the interactions and is not rude to the spirits.
When I first enter the graveyard, my first check is if anyone is there.
Without Privacy: If someone is already in the graveyard, I will do a basic walk around the paths and graves (with Zoe leashed beside me) and do mental check-ins and communication. I may drop pomegranate seeds subtly, but I usually do not do any other offerings while other people are present. In my experience, the spirits understand and know I will bring something next time or wait for the person to leave and give my offerings then.
I will then find a spot to put down my graveyard pad (which just look like a smaller picnic blanket to the average eye). I have a favorite/regular spot in the graveyard by me. I am comfortable doing this even if other visitors are still there, as the spot I sit down isn’t directly atop a grave or anything. It’s a clearing under a tree. I’ll take my book out so I look like I’m just having a nice private read in the graveyard and not offending anyone. At this point, I’ll just read silently/mentally to the spirits (I let them look over my shoulder too if there’s pictures) if visitors do not leave. That’ll be the extent of what I do without privacy.
With Privacy: If
the graveyard is empty, my visit is a bit different. I still walk around the
path/graves first. This time however, I will verbally greet those I know, leave
more substantial offerings and check for new spirits who would like to
introduce themselves. I ignore ones that are being rude (they don’t try for
long with me with my combo of already friendly spirits and Zoe backing me up).
Zoe is loose during this and she does her own initial sweep of the gravestones,
having different favorites than me.
After I greet and give the “presents” (offerings) I have, then I settle on my graveyard pad. I still have it under the tree. For a couple reasons. It’s polite, doesn’t show favoritism, and is easier to play off if a visitor does show up in the midst of my communing. Zoe usually settles down near me eventually, but frequently she does more checking around while I start the “activities” (she likes to check the graveyard border for energy and critter issues).
If there’s particular ritual work I have planned for this trip, I do that first. This includes, but is not limited to:
1.) Ritually appointing new spirits for workings/property protection
2.) Doing an Underworld astral travel with some of the spirits
3.) Doing a
devotional for Hades, Persephone, or Styx.
After that, it’s time for the
bonding/fun activities! I break out the book and phone. I usually start with
the book while the spirits are still more “focused” (their attention span is
not great in my experience). I will do either a picture/children’s book or a
chapter of a more all-ages book that we’ve been working through. I don’t bring
anything too complex or “dry” (i.e. boring) as they lose interest quickly. Some
titles I’ve found they enjoy:
1.) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman- yup, spirits love irony
Anything by Roald Dahl
3.) Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (or other silly yet ghost-y stories)- yup, they find them hilarious. I avoid darker scary/ghost stories since I work with a lot of young and child spirits. They don’t like things that are too dark.
4.) The Velveteen Rabbit (this is a favorite of mine too)
Then the music is broken out. I have no specific suggestions on this- it’s entirely personal to what you think will please your particular ghosties. I do a wide variety. Usually during this, the spirits will tell me things they think I need to hear or talk about something that bothers them. Zoe frequently romps around with the younger spirits at this point too. Sometimes I bring a ball or frisbee to amuse her and the children.
Then I just clean everything up, making sure I’m not leaving anything behind I don’t intend to. I’ll sort of meander my way out of the graveyard slowly and give the shyer spirits a chance to ask me something quietly/alone that they were unsure of during the more group communing.
Once I get home, I run a hot shower or bath with cleansing herbs/oil and give myself a thorough cleaning, asking for Styx’s blessing in making sure no shade residue/miasma remains on me or in my house.
Then I eat. It’s important to consume something of nutritional value after doing spirit work.