Heilig Avondmaal 2011: bringing the dead home

Note: this post was originally posted at my old pagan-tumblr. I moved it here in the interest of keeping all my things together, and also because the links to a lot of the pictures on the original post broke. At the bottom of the post I added a bunch of extra pictures I didn’t share in the original post.

A landscape photo depicting a winter sunset in the city.

This year I brought the dead home. (As put by the lovely Ms. Dirty herself in our email correspondence.)

A landscape photo depicting a mountain in the distance; there is a street light off to the left. It is winter and the sun is setting.

As the sun set on the 21st, I prepared for Heilig Avondmaal. I stressed. I started cooking some dishes too early (pork chops) and others too late (fry bread). I counted my blessings that I was the only one physically present for this – me and the ancestors – because anyone else in the house would have sent me over the deep end for stress.

A white pot contains what looks like mashed potatoes with other veggies mixed in. It is called hutspot.

Hutspot.

A pan on a stove. It contains applesauce.

Applesauce.

A pan containing Tatws Pum Munud, a Welsh potato dish.

Tatws Pum Munud.

A pan containing 4 pork chops.

Pork chops.

A lump of floured dough sits in an orange bowl.

Fry bread, pre-cooking.

Two lumps of dough fry in a pan filled with a layer of oil.

Fryin’ the fry bread.

Two lumps of dough fry in a pan filled with a layer of oil. They have been flipped; the tops are burned.

Burnin’ the fry bread.

A mostly-empty bottle of Bottle Green sparkling Cranberry-Orange fruit juice.

Sparklin’ non-alcohol!

I cooked food for my Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cherokee/Choctaw, and Dutch bloodlines, to soothe my hunger as well as the hunger of my ancestors. We were all lost and hungry, and so I invited them into a warm home to dine with me, cementing my place in my own home as well.

A large plate of food and a wine glass of sparkling juice sit before a shrine. On the shrine are pictures of relatives and items of importance to the dead. 2 smaller plates of the same food and 2 more wine glasses also sit on the shrine.

Plate of dinner + ancestor altar and their plates.

The food was frackin’ delicious. I’m an awesome cook when I put my mind to it. (The dessert was store-bought, because I have a limit of energy and ability. Also I forgot to take a picture of it.) I burned myself pretty badly with the fry bread, but it was worth it. So good.

And I made a lot of food. There are leftovers still. (Mind you, after Heilig Avondmaal I was in Vancouver for a while and just got home a few days ago, but still.)

It was a strange thing, because I made this meal to reconnect with my Oma, specifically. I miss her a lot, and this supper helped me reconnect with her spirit. The applesauce cooking made the house smell like memories, and I felt like she was there with me. Then I went to Van and on Christmas Day Opa, her second husband, had a heart attack and died two days later. So we spent a few days going through estate things.

I’m not very sad about Opa – I mean, I’m sad. I don’t mean to sound callous here. But he was my step-Opa, and since Oma died he really hadn’t been himself. It was almost as if we mourned him when we mourned her, and we were just waiting for his body to catch up. I’m honestly surprised he made it for a year and four months (to the day) after she went; they were very much in love. I thought he would go quickly after.

They’re together now, and that’s a good thing. And next year I’ll be sharing my Heilig Avondmaal with him too.

(And this is also why this post is so late coming. I started it earlier, and then Christmas + Opa’s death sort of took over all my time.)

Extra pictures of the altar: 

Two pictures sit on either side of a lit tealight candle. A yellow beaded necklace rests in front of the pictures. The picture on the left depicts one older woman; the picture on the right depicts an older couple.
Oma on the left; Grandma and Grampa on the right. The yellow necklace belonged to my aunt Ariel; my mom’s sister.
A shrine to ancestors. There are pictures of people who have passed and various bits of things important to the dead, as well as lit tealights, all resting on a linen tea towel with a Celtic knot motif.
The full altar, before the food was served.
A close-up of the ancestor shrine. There are 2 lit tealights, a small statue of a Sage, a broken hair comb, a bracelet with purple stones, and a cylindrical wire box.
Close-up of some of the things on the altar.
A lit candle. The candle is carved to look like a skeleton and it rests in a black box resembling a coffin.
My skeleton candle.
A lit tealight rests on a cloth with Celtic knotwork on it. Behind the candle is a yellow beaded necklace and the bottom corner of a picture frame; the rest of the picture is not visible. A necklace with a skull pendant rests to the right of the candle, along with a silver ring with a yin-yang symbol on it.
More of the yellow beads, plus a necklace that belongs to Manannan’s shrine, and a ring with a yin-yang symbol on it that belonged to my aunt.
A close up of one of the photos on the ancestor altar. It depicts an older couple posing for a portrait. They are the author's paternal grandparents.
Close up picture of my paternal grandparents.
A close up of the other picture on the ancestor altar. It is of an older woman with glasses and short brown hair; she is smiling at the camera. She is the author's maternal grandmother, or Oma.
Close-up picture of my Oma.

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