Posted by G G Collins
A Lovely Autumn Day in Santa Fe
Find the Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer in Milner Plaza at Museum Hill in Santa Fe. The big bronze is by Craig Dan Goseyun. The fringe seems to shimmy as the light changes.
Located at 710-708 Camino Lejo, off Old Santa Fe Trail; across from Santa Fe Botanical Garden.
Posted by G G Collins
Rituals and Ceremonies to Recall the Departed
“Talking” with the dead. Various cultures use ceremony and ritual to “speak” with family and friends who have passed over. It goes by a variety of names. Some Asian cultures refer to it as spirit-calling, soul-calling or calling the soul of the dead. They can also be practiced to attract specific living people into your life. It has also been called communing with the guardian spirit. In Hispanic culture, the dead are celebrated each year on the Day of the Dead. This is a ritual growing in popularity, and why not celebrate those we have loved and lost?
My character, Rachel Blackstone, who became the Reluctant Medium, was mourning her father’s death as the story opened. She had not only lost her father, but he died under mysterious circumstances. Despite that, the police had not been able to determine how his accident had occurred. That left Rachel without knowing–with no facts to support or dispute a theory—an uncomfortable place for a fact-based reporter.
To this end, she decides to try a Native American ceremony to return the dead in the hope that she can ask her father what happened.
Craft a mask. I researched these ceremonies and simplified it for storytelling. The first step was to construct a mask and decorate it with items that had belonged to the deceased. Rachel used cuff links and a photo of her father and herself taken during a trip. You must create the mask yourself. While you are doing so you begin to think about the person and the issue you wish to talk about. This sets your mind on the direct path.
Prayer stick or pahos. She also wanted to make a pahos, or prayer stick. There are many ways to do this, but I chose to use yarn in the four directional colors or four colors of mankind: black, white, red and yellow. To craft a pahos, simply write a short prayer or message on a small piece of paper. Wrap and tape securely around the twig you have chosen. (Use a fallen branch or twig rather than cutting one from a tree.) Then takes lengths of each yarn color and begin wrapping them around the stick, covering the paper. You may be creative with this, but leave some yarn to fashion a hangar. Prayer sticks can be quite elaborate with beading, feathers and other objects. After completion, pahos are hung from a tree, or other outside location. This allows the prayer or wish to continually reach the Above Beings–or whatever name you choose to call your higher power. This is very personal and a private thing for each of us.
Setting the mood. Next, play some music that is conducive to relaxation. If you have a recording of Native American drumming, this is ideal, but any instrumental music that is played adagio will be fine. You may burn incense or sage. In my story I chose Dragon’s Blood incense as it is reputed helpful in these ceremonies. When all is ready, imagine that you are in a kiva, an underground chamber for Native American ceremonies. Close your eyes and wait for the outcome.
The return. For most people, the person does not appear in a vision, although some report images resembling their loved one including outlines and abstract likeness. The reason for the ritual is to think intensely about the departed. That allows for memories to come flooding back. How would this person react to this problem or issue? What might they say? How would they advise you? Often, asking these questions can result in a solution or at least a feeling of letting go and moving forward.
For my character, since Reluctant Medium is fiction, it brought about significant change in her life. But for most people performing these ceremonies, the effect in remembering our loved one is soothing, reflective and inspiring.
— G G Collins