“I bequeath unto …”
We often mentioned the disposal of a deceased’s personal effects and magical equipment, since this is an area that can cause problems if not dealt with correctly. To make no bones about it, we are talking about books and items that may be very heavily ‘magically charged’ and should certainly not be taken into Oxfam for disposal. In one instance we know of, the family got in a firm of house clearance specialists and the entire magical collection of the deceased was shipped off to a junk shop! Can we even begin to imagine the psychic disturbances waiting in the wings with that lot?
In another case, the house had belonged to a couple who died within weeks of each other and the family enlisted the help of the local auctioneers. “I’ve never seen anything so tragic as these personal magical items being pawed over for bargains. Magical robes were being sold at £10 each when they should have been burned!” said one witch who attended the sale. “There was so much stuff that the auction went on all day. There were forty or so crystal balls and I managed to liberate a chipped one, simply because I felt sorry for it. As it turned out, it has been a very treasured and efficient magical tool and well worth the £5 invested in it.” Although of course, we would never haggle over a black egg! … that is attempt to reduce the price. On another occasion a prized library of occult books met a similar fate.
The way to avoid this sacrilege is to appoint a sympathetic executor and to write a codicil to your existing Will. And, if named as executor for a magical estate, there are a few pointers about what should happen to certain personal items. A letter of intent will cover the legal niceties and the personal possessions will go where the deceased intended:
- A magical knife or athame should be buried with the deceased, or destroyed (i.e. the blade broken) and cast into deep water. It should never be given to someone else unless specific instructions were given for its disposal prior to death.
- The deceased should be buried or cremated in their favourite robe and the others ritually burned. The cord should also go with them to the grave.
- Magical journals and personal spell books should be ritually destroyed unless specific written instructions were given for their disposal prior to death.
- Books are extremely personal items and should be kept by the executor, and/or given to those of the coven who will appreciate them on a magical level.
- Magical jewellery should be bequeathed to specific individuals. If this is not the case, then it should be put away somewhere safe until a suitable occasion for presentation arises within the coven.
- Altar and temple equipment, especially the chalice and the pentacle, should be cleansed and dealt with in a similar manner.
- Other items, including divinatory tools, can be cleansed and given to friends or members of the group who are of similar persuasion.
By bequeathing personal items to those close to us, we are providing others with magical heirlooms that will become treasured possessions to be handed down when their time comes. Close working members of the group can be given any of these possessions soon after the deceased’s passing without the need for them being ritually cleansed, since they will retain much of the previous owner’s magical energy. If the recipient chooses to cleanse an item, then the decision is theirs.
If, however, a non-pagan or outsider expresses the desire to have a particular object, it will be necessary to weigh the consequences in the balance – but whatever you decide, never hand over any item that has not been thoroughly cleansed of its magical properties. This is especially true of any item donated to a charity shop.
It also means that as time passes and the pain of loss is less acute, the rites of remembrance can take on an almost festive air. When the dead are spoken about it is with a light heart and a feeling that while they have made a head-start on their journey, it will not be long before those who have been delayed on the path of Life, will eventually join them. The items bequeathed to us bring them closer …
Death & the Pagan: Modern Pagan Funeral Practiices by Carrie West and Phillip Wright is published by Ignotus Books and available from www.feedaread.com : ISBN 978 1 78697 067 1 : 106 pages