The Holiest Death; Grief as Sacred Emotion.
By Roman Delgado
As I write this, I am a couple of days away from Ostara, in Pagan circles with Eurocentric ritual systems it can be seen as an odd time to write about death and grief. Most Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere think of such subjects around Samhain/Halloween. However, for me as someone who comes from a Mexican Family and have been brought up with traditional magical practices of my Ancestors, I know one thing: Death does not care for time, it does things in her own way, and her own schedule.
For those of you who don’t know me, in my local community in the PNW I am known for my heavy work with Ancestral Magic and working with La Santa Muerte. It is those perspectives that have fueled me to write this. Those of you unaware Santa Muerte (Translates to Holy Death, or Saint Death) is the living personification and embodiment of death in Mexican Culture. She is also the patron Saint of those in the outskirts of Society.
They Magic of Santa Muerte is worthy of an entire volume of work on its own, and as such I will not delve deeply into her history and magic. I don’t have enough time to write so much as its needed in a single blogpost. What I write about here is her in one of her specific Epithets: La Madre de Lagrimas. In English, The Mother of Tears.
You see; Santa Muerte is the one that reaps the souls of the dead and the dying into the afterlife. As such she is the one by our side when we are at our worst. When our heart is breaking, and we cannot find comfort around the world of the living. As such she is also the Mother of Grief. Santa Muerte comforts the grieving. Yet she does not do so out of guilt for her work, but out of love for she understands grief. She hates her job as the Grimm reaper and also wishes we did not have to die. Yet everything comes into this world with a purpose. All emotions are birthed into being with a lesson and a need for their existence. As such grief is a sacred emotion as any other. It is a gift from Santa Muerte and divinity itself. Grief is one of the greatest agents of transformation a human being can ever experience. When we are touched by death and grief nothing is ever the same again. It uproots us from our comfort zone and forces us to re-evaluate our lives and our choices.
Death and grief are game changers! It brings forth an energy that in the Pagan community is spoken about much but rarely understood: Initiation. The transformation that death brings forth goes beyond the confines of the physical world. It touches our very souls. It leaves a mark in us that that only those who have also been touch understand. It is in those moments when grief reveals to us the changes that we must make to move beyond our pain, that we grow and learn the lessons that we must contribute to our communities.
Personally I have been touched twice in two years by those lessons where elders in my community have been touched by my beloved Santa Muerte. In such I have also been touched. I question what my role is now in a community where my elders are no longer around to guide us is? I feel the calling of the Great Mother to step up in my community and make a difference in any way I can. To make healthy changes for my sake and the sake of others. After all now that my elders are gone, it is my turn to step up and be the change I want to see in the world.
You see death and grief are sacred because they expose the parts of ourselves that are the most fundamentally human. It is in our humanity that we find spiritual ecstasy and touch the sublime. It is in the ecstasy of grief that we as pagans reach to divinity in our moment of need and either cement our faith or loose it. As such I no longer confine death and grief to Samhain and the dark half of the year. I use that time to reflect on the lessons and joys the Ancestors bring. Yet as a Mexican Pagan and worshiper of Santa Muerte, I live close to death every day. I know her face and feel her touch. With her daily embrace she asks me with love what is the gift I offer to her and the world, and with each embrace, in ecstasy of grief she peels back another layer of darkness that hid away my soul and humanity.
What are the gifts Death and Grief have brought you? Do you see your grief as a sacred part of life? Or do you run away from one of the most fundamentally human things to do: To grieve, to cry, to reach to the heavens and ask Goddess to soothe the wound and reveal the powerful witch or pagan you have become by facing hardship.
There is so much about grief that is sacred, but as within all things there is balance. Do not get lost in the waters of grief for you will drown. Do not swallow your tears for so long that they become the poison that destroys you. Be aware grief is the catalyst that tests your faith and causes you to confront the darkness inside. It reveals your faith or lack of it.
Allow grief to teach to reach out to the divine, and in doing so learn to find Goddess in all things. From the smile of child, to the eyes of an elder, they all hold divinity. The more you grieve the more your tears wash away the dirt that buried your own divinity, and soon enough from the grave of the mundane the God or Goddess you are shall emerge. Cleansed, empowered and stronger than ever!
Find the grace of God in your grief and know that nothing in this life is permanent. Including death. Feel it, allow it to pass and soon you too will feel the sacredness of the touch of the Santa Muerte.
Roman Delgado is a Psychic Reader and Shamanic Healer at Teotl Tonalli Intuitive Arts. He is an active member of the Keepers of the Flame Coven, ATC (The Ever Green Hearth) Please check our Community Connections page to find ways to connect with Roman or other members and Affiliates of The Ever Green Hearth.