BY SOPHIE MOSS
When we lose a loved one, many people believe that they are permanently gone: banished to a plane, heaven, or nothingness from where they can no longer hear us. Some people are fierce non-believers, others choose to believe in a nothingness out of fear, or grief. Since childhood, I have always believed in a gateway: a ‘tween through which the living can make contact and the dead can whisper back.
So, the curious child started to write. I would pen letters, hoping to bridge the gap between worlds. I would write notes to dead people I didn’t know, or supernatural characters from books and television shows. I was enthralled by realms that I couldn’t put my hands on and feel, obsessed with doors that wouldn’t open. With age, I learned to understand my curiosity--my spirituality. The occult--particularly witchcraft -- has played an important role in how I define myself as a human, woman, and writer.
I don’t believe that the people we love ever really leave us--not even in death. When we have a problem, we can ask for assistance. When we’re unsure, we can ask for guidance. Indeed, we can use ritual and spellcasting as a means by which to contact lost loved ones and ask them to work with our own spiritual source to demystify our path, nudge us in a certain direction, or send help. To ask them to whisper back.
I have learned a lot over the years about witchcraft, spirituality, and the afterlife from Silver Ravenwolf’s Solitary Witch, and have taken influence from the volume’s spellwork to create a Luna Luna guide to making contact with the ancestral dead through the art of letter writing.
Supplies: a selection of stones (minimum three); a purple candle; paper; pen; envelope; lighter.
1. Choose an outdoor space. I prefer to choose a location that carries a certain resonance, either for myself or the loved one with whom I am seeking to make contact; a place that allows me to feel close, safe, and connected. Ultimately, choose a space that feels as sacred or as neutral as it feels right to you--whether you go to the local park bench on which you and your lost love shared your first kiss, or whether you regard your own back garden as the safest and most comfortable space in which to make contact, the choice is entirely yours. Remember: it is your intent that matters most.
2. Arrange your stones. At this point, it is about doing what feels most comfortable for you--this is not about rigidity. If you prefer to follow the guidelines of Wicca, arrange three stones in the shape of a pyramid (to represent the Witches’ Pyramid), otherwise, collect enough to spell out the initials of the person you will be honouring. Again, this is not about meticulous rule-abiding, but rather honesty and intent. If something doesn’t feel right, play around with it until it does.
3. Light a purple candle. Purple corresponds with expansion of the self: expansion of spiritual power, knowledge, and consciousness. Once lit, ground yourself and focus your energy on the loved one with whom you are seeking contact. Imagine a bright light filling up your body, traveling through cells and organs and out through your fingers into the candle you are holding. At this point, you can intonate prayers for the deceased. I don’t follow a single specific religious path and instead choose to maintain focus and silence, finishing by placing my candle by the stones.
4. Write a letter to one of the people you are honouring, or have honoured in your prayer. It is in the contents of this letter that you will communicate whatever your reason for contacting. Ask for their help. Detail your problem. Thank them for all that they have done. Tell them you miss them. Whatever your reasons, write them all down. Once you have done this, place the letter in the envelope and seal with a final kiss.
5. Burn the letter. Place the envelope on top of the stones, and focus your intent once more. Take the candle and burn the letter, watching the cool ashes escape in the wind as it carries your message to its recipient. Be contented in the knowledge that your questions are being answered. Once finished, leave your stones untouched.
NB: When making the decision to contact the dead, we must take caution. While it can be helpful to ask our deceased for guidance or assistance, it is important that we do not allow them to take the place of our own spiritual source. As with everything in life, it is about maintaining a rightful balance: finding a happy medium between honouring, acknowledging and contacting lost loved ones, and affording the dead a limited place in our lives.
Sophie E. Moss is a dark witch & literary maven. She writes essays for LunaLuna and poetry for all the people she used to be. @Sophiedelays