Deathly Roses - Rituals of Beltane
Image - AM Lorek
If you have followed this blog for any length of time you may recall that at Autumn Equinox I perform the Ritual of the Forgotten Dead at which time I honour the gravestones of the forgotten with apple slices. At Beltane, I have long performed a similar ritual with rose petals. It is another ritual that came to my personal gnosis through intuitive means; I had not been taught to do so by another (not at least, in this lifetime,) but it felt important in my bones to do so. On the surface of it, it may seem strange to offer Rose petals to the Dead, as Roses have come to be synonymous with Love, in no small part thanks to the popularity of Greek mythology, in which they were associated with the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. However, the mythology is a little murkier than that, as Roses are actually associated with the death of Adonis, whom Aphrodite was in love with, and died whilst hunting a boar (or a jealous Ares in disguise depending on the retelling.) There are also differing accounts relating to this myth and the creation thereafter of the Rose; one tells how it grew out of the tears of Aphrodite and the blood of her dying love, another that she cut herself on a rosebed as she ran to him, and red roses blossomed for the first time, previously having all been white.
In history there is further evidence for the association with Death;
"In 1888, English archaeologist Sir William Flinders Petrie discovered a rose garland used as a funeral wreath during the 2nd century AD in Upper Egypt." - ancient-origins.net
Love and Death are by no means separate concepts however, and much of human literature has been devoted to exploring the depths of connection and questioning if Death is truly the end of love. If love is fleeting like the blooms of a rose, due its season before it eventually withers and dies, or if true love echoes in eternity. Certainly, the literature has immortalized many love stories beyond the death of its author.
Below is the adapted version of the Ritual of the Forgotten Dead, this time for Beltane and the energies it imparts.
The Ritual for the Forgotten Dead.
Prior to the ritual it is best to become accustom to a local graveyard if possible, so that you have already honoured the spirits that preside over this space, and know the layout.
It is also easier to dry out rose petals prior to the visit and place themin a sealed bag so that you do not make a mess when transporting them. You can use fresh petals if preferred but I often feel that the dried petals give an echo of immortality or at least endurance to the energy of the offering.
Depending on your custom, it can be traditional to leave a silver coin at the entrance to a graveyard for those spirits who protect and watch over the graveyard. This is almost a miniature ritual within itself.
Open the graveyard gate (if it has one) or stand on the side of the threshold and place the silver coin nearby, out of sight if possible so that it will not be disturbed, and request permission to enter the graveyard from the protective spirits or wights.
Whilst you can ask silently if necessary, if the opportunity arises you may wish to be vocal in your request: “Guardians who protect all those who enter here, I offer you this coin as a sign of good faith. I seek to enter here and honour the forgotten dead.”
If you feel that the energies permit you to enter, draw a line across the threshold. This can be done simply with a finger or if you wish to engage your ritual Athame, then do so. This will act as a barrier both when ‘entering’ the spirit space, and when leaving it.
Place the Rose petals on the graves of the forgotten dead. If you are placing many petals you may wish to say something brief such as “gone but not forgotten, I honour you.” If you worry about being overheard, you can simply nod your head or place your hand lightly on the gravestone.
Usually after this point I will walk through the graveyard and listen, being hyper aware of any spiritual messages that are passed on, or unusual occurrences that can be considered a spiritual synchronicity. On multiple occasions, cats have appeared at this stage in the ritual.
Once you have completed this, head back towards the entrance, and thank the guardians (either vocally or silently).
As you are ready to leave, make note of the barrier line that you drew before, and make the conscious knowing decision that when you step over it, you are leaving one realm (that of the dead) behind for that of the living, and nothing may follow you.
At this point, some people prefer to take an alternative route home, or take a longer walk home, just incase an energy sought to follow them home. You can also take a ritual bath and cleanse and ground yourself once home.
Many blessings starlets,
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