I would have never thought to use this word until another reader and I were talking about my online business and she used the term. Not a word you hear every day and not one I've heard used in reference to myself or what I do so you know I had to Google the term. Engaging in mediumship would skirt the edges of this definition; when I speak to my dead it is usually to get them up to speed on family happenings, to ask their advice or help.
Samhain is seen as the time to talk to the dead but I believe that can be done at any time. I speak to my dead, other peoples dead, and the dirt, (which carries all dead things) every day. To speak their name is to remember them and will draw them to you; whole cultural traditions are anchored in remembering. Being raised Protestant placed me at a disadvantage and there was much catching up to do; I am still learning. Being dead doesn't mean they don't have anything to share, it just makes the conversation a bit more challenging.
What I would like to share with you today are a few things, small things, you can do to honor your dead, human and animal.
You don't need an altar for this, though if you have a spot where all your photos of the dead are collected, that's a nice touch but not necessary. I've seen where people set up a temporary 'altar' for celebrations which is then taken down after the event. I heard a lady share how she took small pictures of her deceased and stitched them together to make a collage that she carried around with her. Yes, these pictures are sewn together.
As a volunteer photographer for Find A Grave, I enter many cemeteries, most of which are marginally tended to. These forgotten cities with overgrown or grass strewn markers are a symbol of our having lost touch with our roots (no pun intended). With cell phone in hand, the list, garden gloves, pruners, and a straw hand whisk, my husband and I walk through these cemeteries, cleaning stones as we go, speaking (sometimes shouting) their names. You can feel the change in energy.
Water, food, something you know they liked when living. I can hear you saying "But Annette, the dead can't eat like we do!" and that is true. Keep in mind that matter is energy vibrating at a frequency low enough that we can see and 'feel' it. While it appears solid, if viewed under an electron microscope, one could drive a proverbial bus through the space that is present in each atom. So, the living must eat matter to absorb that energy (called calories) while the dead can just siphon it off, like inhaling steam from something hot or a dementor if you are a Harry Potter fan.
A word of caution! What you leave as a gift must not be then fed to the living, pets, people, etc. This is returned to the earth either directly or via your trash receptacle.
Need help with something? Anything. Assigned that task to a loved one and let them handle it from that side. Have a child living in another city and they need help, send a beloved (depending on what the problem is, of course!). Have a deceased that wreaked havoc when with the living, let them atone for that by giving them the job of mending fences. It can happen quickly or could take generations, depending on the damage, leave them to it.
Captain John Thierson Smith, my second great grandfather, was a nasty piece of work (I mentioned his daughter in this post). I don't know if he started out that way or if war turned him into the angry bitter man I've heard stories about, but surprisingly enough he has turned up on several occasions to offer a word of advice. I decided to put his military prowess to work and gave him the job of protecting us from whatever might move in next door, specifically keeping the driveway clear.
Please and thank you go a long way. Say thank you.
There is so much more to share and I will leave that for another time. Don't fear your dead; they are your blood and bone, their memories are woven into your mortal existence. Some traditions speak of the angry and the hungry dead, tales meant to stop local populations from being autonomous and to become dependent on an organization for help.
Speak to them, whisper your heart's content, and watch what happens.