An Evening in a Graveyard

by Liz

I am fortunate to live in the city of Kent just a short drive away from what is touted to be the oldest historical site in the city : Pioneer Cemetery (also known as Stow Street Cemetery).  The cemetery was established in 1810 and the last interment occurred in 1914. Many of the families buried in this graveyard have streets named after them in the city as these were the people who settled here and thrived here with the help of the surrounding native population without (to my knowledge) infringing on their land. It’s an interesting cemetery to say the least, and one that I’ve on occasion visited. I thought it fitting that my first formal introduction to the spirits of the dead here (as a local witch) be on Halloween.

I arrive at the graveyard in the early evening, watching the surrounding area to ensure that I am alone here to perform my rite. Respectfully I lay down a payment to the guardian of this resting place and cross the threshold bounded by an old wrought iron gate. Greeting the dead as I pass their resting places I make my way to a secluded spot under the largest tree in the place, one that is bounded by two graves.

The oldest tree in the graveyard, bounded by two graves...

Receiving permission to create my altar here, I proceed to set out my candles and offerings, lighting sweetly perfumed incense to gently rouse the spirits for my work. As I look out over the weathered sandstone grave markers mixed in with their recently replaced granite counterparts I introduce who I am and my reasons for coming here. The spirits here are (for the most part) very warm and welcoming.

Graveyard altar at the base of an oak with offerings...

As I give my offerings to the spirits of this place, some whiskey for the adults and pretty flowers and sweet smelling herbs for the children, I thank the spirits of the dead for allowing me into their resting place. I tell them that they are not forgotten, and they politely inform me that they already know that… I state my goals and intentions for future spirit work here and receive a positive nod of permission.

The altar again...

Having said and done all that I had come to do, I sit and watch the river, letting any spirits who wish to make themselves known to me. I feel a strong pull from the family graves near my altar, noting their names to research and promising personal gifts of thanks on my next visit. As the dark continued to approach I said one final thanks to the spirits of the dead, blew out my candles and packed my belongings.

A weathered sandstone marker...

As I left I made a final round of the place, noting  other areas shielded from the road that will serve as future places of work. As I close the heavy iron gates now that it is truly dark, I again thank the guardian of the place, knowing that my payment was bien accepté. 

I leave feeling tired, hungry and drained. All other evening plans of spirit or ancestor work were dashed. I ate a meal and then slept, knowing that the spirits of the dead in this area are willing to work with me, and knowing that they won’t stand for being one stop on a list of “to-do”s.