Friday, October 30, 2009
Lost in Translation
When you think about how much trouble we have communicating with each other, it follows that there are going to be some serious misunderstandings between the living and the dead. Ghosts and humans have had a terrible time, throughout the ages, trying to talk to each other. Even mediums and other psychics who channel the dead (this is one of the things I do, btw) are just guessing. At least I am which is why it's always so amazing how my clients appreciate even my second class translations of what the ghosts want to convey. Sheesh.
One of the big obstacles to mutual understanding is that ghosts don't have, as a primary directive, the survival instinct. They may moan and groan about how much they miss the sensory delights of being a human, but in fact they forget that we MUST breathe, drink water and eat food, or. we'll. die. They're already dead, of course, hence way outside of the food chain. If you can imagine what that would look like, an existence not dependent on survival issues, you can begin to get why we've had so many misunderstandings throughout history.
My dear brother Donald Engstrom insists that the ancestors MUST help us. In return, we must honor them, remember them. We're not too good at that here in the U.S. at this moment in history. In my culture, we are not great with ghosts. We dismiss them summarily, the first culture in all of history to be so rude. Instead of building beautiful shrines to honor our ancestors, in general when we contact the dead, we regress and behave so recklessly.
We spook each other out by telling ghost stories even though officially we don't believe in ghosts. I'm sure they love this. No wonder they add a nice cold chill to the room when the story calls for it, oh yeah! When we're frightened, we're very vivid which they appreciate. But there are other, more pleasant ways to be vivid!
To be fair, it's hard to imagine any truly easy relationship between the living and the dead, no matter where you are, (though I imagine - is this a fantasy? - that the everyday communication between living and dead on the continent of Africa, for instance, is completely different than here. I have no idea, I've never been there, just guessing.)
My ancestor altar is different every year. Sometimes it's quite elaborate, other times not so much. This year it is completely basic, featuring only my immediate family. That's my father and mother holding opposite poles on the altar (very much as they did in life). Of course Jake is prominently featured. The other pic is of my sister Karen with two of the living: my sister Deborah and me, as a baby. The herbs are rosemary, thyme, marigolds and one sprig of late-blooming lavendar.
N.B. When I talk about ghosts or spirits, I usually mean the whole lot of the dead - including the neurotic ones. When I say ancestor I mean a soul that, in some way I don't pretend to understand, has done some serious apres-life healing and has returned to our realm, on purpose, to assist us. The ancestors are wise counselors, a completely different animal than the jerks who come when you pull out the Ouija board.