“What is Deathwalking?”, you might ask. Well, I’m going to guess that you’ve heard of something like it before: necromancy. Now, before you run away screaming, let me explain.
Specifically, Deathwalking is the branch of my spiritual tradition, the Unnamed Path, which deals with spirits of the dead. While we do use particular magical techniques to assist us in communication, I like the way our founder once put it:
Deathwalking…is more of a lifestyle than a magical art.
Especially when I consider the relationships that I maintain with my Ancestors, both of blood and spirit, I have to agree. Yes, eventually, practitioners of our path learn to speak with spirits on behalf of friends and loved ones, acting as messengers. Yes, we can assist a person with the process of crossing over as a midwife to the dying. However, I think the most significant aspect that sets our way apart from necromancy–and who doesn’t automatically hear “necrophilia” in the back of the mind?–is that we develop real relationships with certain spirits.
I count myself lucky indeed that my maternal Grandmother is among the spirits who surround and speak to me, assisting in all aspects of my shamanic work. Her presence is so cherished, so real, it’s as though she’s just a phone call away. Except now, we just speak directly to each other when we want. Any time.
Other spirits, one whom I met while still living in Austin, are also old friends. One of them literally has my back, as he guards the energy point on my body that is most attuned to the energy of spirits. My Spirit Guardian anchors me on journeys to the Spirit World and protects me from harmful energies.
The point is, we don’t just summon up a spirit to “divine” things, and certainly not just for fun. We commune with them, and they are as real to us any friend in the material world. But they are also teachers. When I have questions about working with plants, I speak specifically with one spirit. She worked with plants so much while alive that she feels almost like a plant spirit herself. These spirits teach us things that no one else can, so you know I pay attention when they speak to me!
The focal point of my work with them is my Ancestor altar, which just recently found a permanent location in my home. Previously, I had set up this special altar only when I needed to do specific work with a spirit. After Eddy’s death, this altar has become more important than ever in my continuing work.
That’s my beloved Teacher Eddy there in a place of prominence. My partner’s grandparents are there too. Don’t they deserve to be treated to rum, chocolate and crystalized ginger? I think so. I will continue to add to this as the year goes by; so many loved ones to commemorate. If you would like to see some of our work in action, and will be at #PantheaCon 2014, be sure to join me and the Brothers of the Unnamed Path as we pay tribute to Eddy at 7:00pm on Saturday.