Immortality Through Bardry

Many of us hope to live in such a way that we will leave the world a better place that we found it. But even if this is the case, even if you manage to leave some lasting, positive impact, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be remembered for it. It doesn’t mean you’ll be remembered at all.

One of the things that I find the most comforting about Our Druidry is the concept of Ancestor veneration. When we die, we don’t have to lose touch with those who are still alive. And when we’re alive, we don’t have to lose touch with those who have died. We may lose touch for awhile, especially close to the time of transition, but transition is a confusing time, and we often lose touch with people when one of us is at a transition point in our live.

We maintain contact with our Ancestors by remembering them, honoring them, and sharing their stories. This is one of the reasons I think Bardry is so essential to My Druidry, to my practice as a pagan. This importance is two fold. As a bard, it is important for me to be able to learn and share the tales of those ancestors. They are remembered and honored when I tell their stories and share the works they have done. When I continue to participate in and pursue their Vision, I honor them. As a bard, I also hope that my own works will be remembered after I have died. The songs and stories and essays that I sing and tell and share. They are a part of me and a part of my practice and a part of my Vision. I hope that I can be remembered through them.

Last weekend I and four other ADF bards spent a large chunk of our time at the Trillium Festival learning a song by Bess Closs, the daughter of Anna Gail. She died a couple of weeks ago in a car wreck, just shy of her 19th birthday. This song, “A Kindred Prayer,” she wrote when she was 12. It starts out with a fairly simple melody line, and then adds in harmonies and counter-melodies as the song progresses. We learned all the parts and sang it at the memorial for Bess, as well as recorded it.

The five of us have already decided that we are going to again rehearse it and sing it at Wellspring this year. We’ve added it to our repertoire to be sung when we are together. And through that continued sharing, Bess will be remembered and honored, and share in our continued honoring of the Kindreds.

“I sing of your virtues, I sing of your flaws.
I sing of your life so that you may live on.
Live through my words and live on through my line.
Love will circle ‘round and keep your soul alive.”
~ from “A Song for Your Passing” by Rev. Jan Avende

Grief is…

Loss is weird. It is silencing. It is listening. It is support. it is grieving. It is numb. It is every emotion rushing back in to fill that void all at once. It is ripples. It is a network. It is the darkness. It is a flickering spark. It is empty. It is full. It is shock. It is heavy.

The world lost a beautiful soul this weekend. Bess was a flame that shone so brightly that you could see her glow, and feel her light whenever Anna Gail spoke of her. I heard stories about her long before I met her. I had that pleasure when she came to Columbus last year. She scooped up Tally, and played with her, and loved her like family. Her bright heart and bright spirit and unfailing courage are phenomenal, and will be dearly missed. As Traci has declared: when we do something brave, from here on out, we will be “pulling a Bess.”

When I went to the memorial on Sunday night, I was not expecting to speak. I didn’t think I had the words to do it, everything felt numb and empty. I did. I don’t remember what I said. Not exactly. I know when I called to the Spirits of the Land I called them all. I called to the laughter of our loved ones in the trees. I called to the breath of our loved ones in the wind. I called to the tears of our loved ones in the rain. I called to the warmth of our loved ones in the sun. I called to the Earth, who cradles us all, always.

As the ripples from her death spread, like a shockwave, I recognize the numbness I felt at first, the shock. And now, as the dust is settling I’m seeing how much has been knocked down, and shattered. As this tragedy spreads through our family and community, please take a moment to read this, giving you some words to say (and not say).  Additionally, there is some good information here on supporting those in grief.