The Mighty Dead, the Beloved Dead and Us
Article ID: 3673
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,481
Times Read: 25,733
Author: M Macha Nightmare
Posted: October 21st. 2001
Times Viewed: 25,733
The Mighty Dead, the Beloved Dead and Us © 2001
by M. Macha NightMare
Recently I've been giving a lot of thought to our concepts of the Dead. A seasonal musing each year around this time.
I don't know how many other Craft traditions have these concepts, but both of mine do. Surely everyone has Beloved Dead, meaning those we've loved who've passed on from this realm. We celebrate these ancestors every year at Samhain. We grieve together and we often communicate directly with them, as well. The Mighty Dead are a bit different. The Mighty Dead are said to be those practitioners of our religion who are on the Other Side now, but who still take great interest in the activities of Witches on this side of the Veil. They have pledged to watch, to help and to teach. It is those Mighty Dead who stand behind us, or with us, in circle so frequently.
In some cases, the Beloved Dead and the Mighty Dead may be the same people. For instance, two late friends of mine, Raven Moonshadow and Judy (Calypso Iris) Foster, now are revered as Mighty Dead amongst many Reclaiming Witches. Raven was a powerful priest and a talented teacher, complex and possessing of human foibles like all of us are. Judy is also among the Mighty Dead of NROOGD tradition, although I'm not certain that NROOGD uses this concept. The point being that Judy was a priestess, and a very influential one, one deeply involved in our work and our evolution as a faith tradition, of both traditions.
Another recent example - one no one would quarrel with - is the late Victor H. Anderson (May 21, 1917 - September 20, 2001) , oldest known practitioner of Faery/Feri tradition Craft. I have no doubt, and neither do the many other Witches he's trained, influenced or who've descended from him, that Victor's over there, and that he'll come dance with us in the Marin Headlands on Halloween.
In past years, at Samhain, I've called specific Mighty Dead into our circles. In general, I don't make a distinction between which particular tradition "own" individual Mighty Dead. So I've called Grandma Julie (Tower Family tradition out of the San Jose area, now having two lines) and Gwydion Penderwen (Faery tradition), for example, to Reclaiming Samhain rituals.
One year at a Reclaiming's Women's Samhain, after the Quarters had been called, I faced each Quarter and called one of the four women of the Golden Dawn - Moina Mathers, Annie Horniman, Florence Farr and Maud Gonne - into the circle. Although I don't consider them technically to be Mighty Dead of the Craft, I do indeed consider them to be prominent among our magical foremothers. It was for this reason I called them.
At this ritual, we had set up a central tiered dining table set with beautiful plates, silver service, seasonal vegetation (pumpkins, squash, Indian corn, grapevines, Autumn leaves). Women wrote on place cards and put their place cards at the settings on the table. So I wrote the names of each of these magical foremothers on place cards so that they had an honored place at our table.
I believe it behooves us to honor such people. And what better time than at Samhain, when we honor our ancestors and mourn our Beloved Dead.
M. Macha NightMare
Sunday, October 22nd, 2001
M Macha Nightmare
Location: San Rafael, California
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