30 Days of Hymns, the Sacred Triad, Manannan #2: The Land of the Dead

Hail to the Deep One
the Lord of the Land Beyond
Guardian of the Final Passage
hail to you, in your many forms
When my eyes close, o Lord, let me see a new world in the darkness
When my breath slows, o Lord, let your breath carry me across the waters
When again my eyes open, o Lord, and I look from the vision of one no longer living
let me see your land
an island in the sea
dappled by golden light
that comes from your very heart
When my feet touch the ground, o Lord, let them feel springy loam
bright green moss between my toes
let the peace of the land
flow upwards through my soles
let it let me know I am finally home
When I breathe again, o Lord, let me breathe in the scent of apples
an orchard of knowledge
before me
let my breath never hitch on the knife in my lungs
let my breath be as smooth as the ocean that envelops us
And when I open my arms again, o Lord, let them be filled with all the ones I loved the most
let me be comforted and never alone
When I come to your home, o Lord, when I arrive at the land of the dead
let me not miss the land of the living
take from me my sorrow and my struggle
let me be at peace
in a land filled with apples
and all my loves
And when it is time for me to leave again, o Lord, let my leaving be quiet
a small blip in an otherwise calm existence
let my journey be swift
and let me awaken in a life
that lets me know your glory and your grace
Guardian of the Land Beyond
Lord of the Final Passage
Hail to you, Deep One
in all your many forms
may my life be long
so I may make myself ready
for our journey
across the waves.


30 Days of Hymns: The Sacred Triad

 

A person wearing a dress and tights holds a basket of red-green apples in a field. You cannot see above the person's waist. They have red painted nails.

30 Days of Hymns, Manannan Mac Lir #1: Apples

Hail to the Lord of the Land of Apples
High Priest of Avalon
Father to the Lost
let me honor you
in quiet simplicity
let me taste the fruit of knowledge
let me dive into the Mystery
let me know what I’m ready for
let the truth be a balm,
calming my stormy skies
let me find comfort in the hardy flesh
of your sacred fruit
teach me how to calm the dead, o Lord
teach me how to grow apples
out of discord and strife
teach me to bring peace to the afterlife
let the ancestors gather around my apple tree
let me share with them
the food that straddles the realms
teach me to cook a meal for the lost
the hungry
the downtrodden
let them know a parent’s love
in a slice of apple pie
teach me the secrets of comfort food, o Lord
that I may be a better priestess to you
Hail, High Priest of Avalon
Father to the Lost
Praises be upon you,
Lord of Apples.


30 Days of Hymns: The Sacred Triad

 

Ancestor Days: for Oma

Five years ago in August, my Oma, my mother’s mother, passed peacefully beyond the veil.

She had been sick for 4 years at that point. They didn’t find out it was leukemia until the only option was palliative care. Moving into hospice care was really astounding for her — here she could ask for pain relief, and she would receive it. Finally, after four years of hell — after four years of asking us to help end her life — she could be in peace, pain-free, in her final days.

I don’t actually remember the exact day she died. It was a whirlwind few days of getting the call, packing a bag, rushing to make the last ferry, driving down to Nanaimo, catching the early morning ferry the next day after a couple hours sleep on my couch at the place I was set to inhabit as soon as I could leave mom’s place, where I’d been watching things while she spent time with her mother at the hospice — all so I could see Oma’s body, and say goodbye before she was cremated.

Death isn’t real to me until I’ve seen the body. It was true when Blue died, and it was true for Oma too.

The grief came in waves, weirdly hitting me at inappropriate times. The truth was, we’d been grieving her for four years already. She’d come so close to Death’s door so many times in those years that we weren’t really convinced it had actually happened when it finally did. The Thanksgiving after we sat, sadly with Opa around the table, and I kept expecting Oma to wander down the hall in her short-stepped walk, remarking on the good smells from the kitchen, and how lucky she was to have a daughter who would cook for her.

I still sometimes expect to hear her voice in a phone call. And today, I got the urge to call her and wish her “Happy birthday, Oma!” She would have been 98.

In her final hours, she kept asking my mom if she’d been a good person; if Mom thought she would get into heaven. We didn’t really realize how deep her religious streak went, as she’d sort of removed herself from religious identity once she met Opa (a staunch anti-theist). “Of course you will, Mam, of course,” Mom replied, and she was 100% honest. We both believe that. Whatever the afterlife holds for our non-Protestant souls, if there even is one, we truly believe Oma made her way into heaven, and that she truly deserves the happiness that afterlife brings her.

Whatever your heaven is like, Oma, may it have lots of chocolate and books (including mine, which was published a year too late for you to see it — I know you’d be proud). May you be able to keep up on the achievements of your loved ones, and may you stick your chest out with pride in that way we always found incredibly embarrassing but also very endearing. May your pains, physical and emotional, be eased; may you be reunited with those you lost. May you sit with Gerry and Jake and Gerry’s first wife and Ariel and play Scrabble or Mah Jongg, and may the rules be adjusted so everyone can have a good time; may you laugh and talk about your long lives together, and apart, and may all jealousies be eased; may death bring friendship in unlikely places. May you be greeted by Ariel and Jake when you arrive, and may you get as many chances as you need to tell your daughter how much she means to you; may you get as many chances as you need to tell Jake everything you wanted him to know.
And if your other loved ones get different afterlives, may there be a good transit system so you can all visit each other.
An animated gif of a candle flame in darkness.
Image by Ramon de Souza. Used under a Creative Commons license.

I love you, Oma. I will never stop missing you, or thinking about you. I hope you know that, and I hope you know how much you inspired me, and how I wouldn’t be as successful as I am if it weren’t for you.

For you, Oma, on today, your birthday, your Ancestor Day — for you, I say my prayers to my Lord Manannan, that you are watched over and loved, and kept cherished and safe, in death as we tried to for you in life.