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Article ID: 11223

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Age Group: Adult

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The Triple Goddesses and Katie Beth

Author: Patricia Starteller
Posted: March 25th. 2007
Times Viewed: 1,647

I am a relatively new Wiccan. I have been practicing the Craft for four years, and I have found more and more to love. But, getting on in years, I have wondered what to do about dying and funerals. Not much information about formal funeral rites is out there yet. Wicca is too young, its practitioners too young to get to that point in their lives where mortality needs addressing.

Or so I thought.

A very dear young Wiccan friend had a baby. Bad things happened in spite of prayers, candles, rituals, herbs, and anything else we could think of. A perfect little baby girl only lived two days. But in those two days she taught a lifetime of knowledge to those of us here.

I had read that one must never mix pantheons, at least in the beginning of one's studies. Well, I knew a lot about mythology, being an old history major, and I knew there was no one pantheon that I could identify with. I had read all the myths of all the major civilizations when I was eight (I highly recommend children read mythology around then-- it makes it so much easier than when they are belatedly exposed to it in high school.)

Despite being an astrologer, no one pantheon appealed to me.

Some years ago, we had invited Hecate, Who has a place near us where a tidal creek, a salt marsh, and a lake meet, to stay with us during a hurricane if She so desired. It was not a simple "Y'all come over if You can, " but a reverence to a great Lady who takes care of herons, kingfishers, tiny crabs, crepe myrtles, an old rowboat, and some incredible scenery in the center of a small city.

In the midst of our terrible blowing storm, an ancient beech Tree Mother, having seen her children and husband go, fell across our fence, missed doing any real damage to our neighbor, and landed in a swimming pool. I know Hecate helped that Beech to go; the Beech had seen out her family, and joined them in their Summerland.

Then a year or so later, I came out of the broom closet to my born-again sister. I knew that this would be a momentous event in my life; I knew that I had always been looked down on in the family for not attending church or "accepting Jesus", but I had never stood up for myself, feeling that I couldn't take one more "you're going to Hell" pitch.

In Patricia Telesco's 365 Goddesses, I found out later, the Goddess for the day was Ahes of Brittany who rebelled against becoming Christian, and was banished to Her underwater castle, Ys, rather than bow to the New Religion. Ahes stood by me as I rebelled against Christianity.

Then on September 15, I found a beautiful meditation on Rhiannon of Wales in one of Caitlin Matthews books. Rhiannon brings three birds: one of grief, one of sleep, and one of laughter. She was a Mother who lost a child. I had no idea that Her birds would visit us in the very next week.

Katie Beth came into the world on September 19. She was beautiful and perfect, but locked in a perpetual sleep because she received no oxygen when without warning her placenta separated from her mother's womb. I knew right away that Katie Beth was here to teach us something and we were all with her to learn.

I think the first thing we learned was that we were all tied together in deep bonds of love.

Katie Beth's parents, so young, so young, were the most mature individuals I have yet come across. Her young father had to make terrible decisions in the next two days. He loved his wife, he loved his child, he loved all of us enough to make sure that the doctors kept Katie Beth alive until we all could come and kiss and hold her and say goodbye.

Her sweet angel mother withstood a terrible delivery and terrible pain and yet was at her side in the distant children's hospital one day after Katie Beth's birth. Katie Beth's real grandma and grandpa (we're honorary ones), aunts and uncles, and our children (friends of the family) and we drew together as one family, no genetics needed.

I told Katie Beth the night before she died that she had done a wonderful job. She had taught so many things to people. I told her that her fame and her influence would continue to unfold for years.

I know that my daughters and Katie's mother (who wants to try again in a year or so), have realized that they want to work on their diet and exercise before new pregnancies.

I've seen male relatives of Katie Beth awed at her and her parents-- realizing the gift of life and the miracle of little ones. I've deepened my commitment to Wicca, and I've seen the aspects of the Triple Goddess comfort me and others-- Hecate, Ahes, and Rhiannon.

On September 21, Katie Beth's parents took her, the biological extended family, and us into the hospital's memorial garden-- a place filled with impatiens, metal butterflies, butterfly statues, trees, and green grass.

We all cried, including the attending nurse; yet we all realized this was the place where Katie Beth became a butterfly, too.

A suggestion was proposed that as many of us as possible get purple butterfly tattoos in memory and honor of Katie Beth. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation and resurrection, and purple is Katie Beth's mother's favorite color.

Last night my sweet husband got a beautiful purple butterfly on his wrist for his "granddaughter".

I have seen a ceremony of passing and perfection that was not a ceremony at all. I know that when my time comes, it isn't about formal ritual, hymns, coffins, cemeteries, or the ubiquitous funerary rites.

It is about going to the Summerland as a purple butterfly. It's about leaving in the arms of our great Mother, knowing we are not alone here, and that we won't be alone on the other side.


Patricia Starteller

Location: Newport News, Virginia

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