Saturday, May 7, 2011


I adore cemeteries and have my entire life. Aside from just being who I am, I also think my having spent a great deal of time as a small child helping my mother and grandmother clean up the family plots in various cemeteries also encouraged this comfort I feel at gravesites. I get a sense of peace, of calmness, of a quiet serenity peppered with a bit of fear when, however briefly, I am faced with the idea of my own mortality. When I was younger, I used to fear being buried in the ground and made everyone I thought would outlive me promise to build me a small mausoleum in which to spend my eternity. But given my whole-hearted embrace of mother earth and all she has to offer, coupled with the fact that mausoleums are grandly expensive and I am but a lowly commoner, I've learned to make peace with the idea of sleeping beneath the ground. Being at one with the earth once again isn't such a bad thing.

Cemeteries are wonderful storyboards of people from the distant (and not so distant) past, with their headstones lichen-covered snapshots into the lives- and deaths- of those who went before. Buddhism tells us not to fear death but rather embrace it, meditate on it and learn to love the idea of it for in accepting our mortality we are able to understand more fully what it means to live. To vanquish this fear frees us to truly live in the moment. Be not attached to anything (including fears and worries) and you will end your suffering on this earthly plane.

Not too long ago I began keeping a photographic journal of very old cemeteries here in New England; honoring those who have passed before me and experiencing my own sense of where I fit in in this vast timeline of people (click on the link at the bottom of this post to see my photo journal). There's nothing quite like a quiet interlude in an old graveyard. A friend recently told me about a headstone in Connecticut of a family killed together during the summer of 1777 and the epitaph on that stone says it all:

"Death like an overflowing stream sweeps us all away.
Our Life's a Dream, an empty Tale,
A Morning Flower, cut down and withered in an hour."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ritual Oils

I don't very often anoint the candles I use in ritual, but spring is a time of cleanliness, renewal, fresh ideas and scents, and I find myself doing things at this time of year that I seldom do in the later seasons. Here are three recipes for oils that can be used to anoint candles or worn on the skin to bring extra energy during spring rituals. All three can be used for candles; only one should be worn on the flesh.

Purification Oil
1/8 cup Jojoba, Sunflower or Almond base oil
5 drops Lavender
3 drops Rosemary
1 drop Sandalwood
(Rub onto your ritual candles only. Not to be used on your skin.)

Earth Oil
To your base oil add:
4 drops Patchouli
4 drops Cypress
1 drop Rosemary
(Wear to bring earth energy into your ritual, ideal at this time of year when the earth is waking from her slumber.)

Citrus Purification Oil
To your base oil add:
3 drops Orange
2 drops Lemon
2 drops Lime
1 drop Grapefruit
(Rub on white candles and burn in your home to purify it. Not to be used on your skin.)

Please use caution when working with essential oils as some can be irritating to the skin. Never place any oil on your body without first making sure you aren't allergic to it.

Photo of hand-dipped candles courtesy of Andrea M. Long Photos on flickr.