Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Pizza and Dead People
Article ID: 15016
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 510
Times Read: 2,465
RSS Views: 15,147
Author: Deborah Castellano
Posted: July 29th. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,465
When my uncle is in the hospital in ICU last year, it was really difficult for my family for a lot of reasons. a) If he passed, that would leave my cousin fatherless at 19. No one I knew who is part of the "dead dad" club who lost their father around that age came out unscathed. My cousin . . . is troubled would be the kindest way to put it and he has a lot of things working against him. He *just* started to pull himself together a month ago. If my uncle had passed, it would have been a one-way trip down the spiral, hard. All of us in my circle who are part of the Dead Dad Club could see it. (b) For Italians, we're a small family. We're still rocked from losing half of my cousin's family two years ago unexpectedly. We only have (1) baby on that side. It would just . . .make us that much more inconsolable. There's only like 14 of us now total.
When we first got the news that he was in ICU, we had no information. Generally, I take point in these kinds of situations, but my sister had wanted to go. She's an adult now so I wanted to give her the chance. I wanted to give me the chance to stay behind and tend to the home fires and take care of her baby. I could be patient and calm and wait.
Apparently family roles exist for a reason. If it were a movie, it would almost be comical. I was at home with her child screaming and inconsolable, looking stricken and gasping in panicky breaths. Pacing and pacing, at a loss with nothing to do but sit on my hands and try futilely to get the baby to calm down. She at the hospital, stricken and overcome by the sight of my vibrant uncle, hooked up to so many tubes and machines that she didn't know how she would handle it and didn't know what to do with my mother or the situation. Both of us whispering to each other through text messages that we chose wrong; this isn't what we're good at, not at all.
But we got a routine down. Every other day either she went with my mother to the hospital two hours away while I stayed at home with her kid or vice versa. I grilled the nurses, nagged my mother. My sister did my uncle’s laundry and replaced household items.
We're got there. He got better, little by little.
My sister and my mother are troopers. I'm not strong like they are; I had been sleeping til noon, exhausted. My sister cares for her kid; my mom goes to work. I was out of work at the time. But I hoped that when I take a little time to breathe and recharge, I could help everyone think with a clear head. Sometimes it was the case, sometimes less so. The days were long, going til midnight every other day.
I didn’t have much time to light a novena candle, but I thought about it a lot. Our Lady of Guadalupe sat serenely on my altar and I would think about Her prayer that I don't know by heart but know the gist of. I would light the candle in my head and hope that it counts, almost as much. My japa practice had become erratic, but I thought about that a lot too and say a few mantras when I can remember. I thought about the rosary in one of my uncle's mittens, prayed on by so many of my ex-aunt's family members. I tried to pray before bed, tried to go to my internal meditation space and clean that out since I never had the time to in my actual home. I would ask to go to Umberto's when it was my turn at the hospital, my father's favorite pizza place out in NY. So much so that when he passed, a cousin ribboned a box beautiful and displayed it at his wake.
We go there, whenever we go to the cemetery, whenever we go to a wake, sometimes when we're leaving the country out of JFK, sometimes just when we're visiting my relatives and we can be happy as a family. I hope to get there with my family like that again soon now that my uncle’s well again.
But mostly pizza goes with dead people in my head. At least Umberto’s. It's a part of our pilgrimage to visit our beloved dead, just like the sh*tty diner in south Jersey we go to when we visit my dad's grave where we always order pancakes and burgers.
My mom is my family's keeper of the dead, I guess that's where I get it from as Crow is my totem but she's way more hardcore than me. She specializes in what I call "drive by cemetery visits". She's got a wreath in her hand, twine, scissors, whatever she finds around the cemetery to help hold up wreaths, flowers, and palms. She's the MacGyver of the Cemetery. She knows where everyone's buried and has inscrutable markers in her brain that helps her find whoever. She does drive-bys because she'll decide on a day's notice that that is what she's doing and then gets put out when I can't decide on a whim to go visit all of our beloved dead (and really, who decides to drive two hours to either cemetery on a whim? Fran, that's who) .
Sometimes I think I'm too soft and squishy because I get all emotional when I think about this kind of stuff, but when it comes down to doing, I can get through it all nice and neat like my mom does, once I'm there. It's just getting there. But I'm learning, or at least trying to because some day this will be my job. And I know that’s what my mom is afraid of, though she never says so. That these rituals and visits will be forgotten. But I’ve promised myself that I’ll take her place one day. Right now I’m more of an apprentice, if not a terribly good one yet.
We have the same organized brain and the same black humor. We talk about where everyone's buried like normal people talk about files. I explained my eventual plan to get everyone in one general area in a mausoleum all nice and neat and she laughs ("We'll just move Daddy and put him like across the street from Grandma and Grandpa and then everyone will be organized, right Ma? Keep everyone close and nice and tidy!") . So I go with her and she tells me family secrets off handedly (it's the only way to get them out of her) and I try to figure out the bunny trail of our beloved dead. Try to remember who’s where. Try to remember the important dates. I'm learning. Slowly. It’s this pilgrimage that keeps us sewn together. It neatly stitches together the parts where my Paganism and her Catholicism collide. The ritual of our pilgrimages we can always agree on, if not the emotions and personal religious views.
After my mom ties the palms neatly at the cemetery and we say our prayers, we get a slice of Sicilian and try the Arancini di Riso and head home, back to central New Jersey, beads on the abacus back and forth between life and our beloved dead.
Location: , New Jersey
Author's Profile: To learn more about Deborah Castellano - Click HERE
Bio: Deborah blogs regularly over at Charmed, I'm Sure: A Finishing School for Dropout Dilettantes Discussing Charms, Hexes, Housewifery, Hearth Witchery and Deportment
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