A Rite For Our Covid Dead

Image courtesy of Axel Eres on Unsplash

Our ancestors knew where angry spirits came from: they came from those who had been wronged in life, who had been murdered or driven to suicide. They came from those who died an unclean death, those who suffered. We still know this today: we make movies like The Grudge, avoid houses where a murder or great disturbance took place, and leave offerings on bridges where suicides took place. Yearly, we remember and honor the soldiers who have fallen in the most horrific of our wars.

We have left 2020 behind, but we cannot leave behind our dead, especially those whose lives were cut short due to Covid-19, our own modern plague. Nearly two million people worldwide have died, and all of them were wronged. The people who did everything they could to avoid the illness, but succumbed to its grip, were wronged. The people who listened to powerful figures and, to the very end, were confused about how a “made up disease” could be killing them, were wronged. These people, our people, were willfully and callously killed by a preventable disease that could have been contained, if greed and indifference had not so hardened the hearts of those who had the power to act…and chose not to, or did far too little far too late.

The world, driven as it is by these money-worshipping souls, will continue. The deaths of our people will be ignored, as they were ignored in favor of opening bars, throwing parties, raising the wealth of our richest. As Pagans and as witches, we cannot turn a blind eye to the creation of more angry spirits, not when so much of our world is already in turmoil. So, we act. We make sacrifice, we mourn, and we remember. We carry that burden and responsibility.

Where do we mourn, and for how long? We mourn everywhere, because every place has felt the touch of this senseless death. And we mourn for a hundred and twenty-five years, the length of a human life. It is not brief work, nor is it work that will be completed in our lifetimes, but it is work that needs to be done.

Here, then, is a rite for the dead of Covid-19. It is simple, meant to be performed over and over, a ritual for as many lives as were lost, for as many years as were stolen. It is a ritual of breath and intent, and it is as cheap as the value those in power placed on the lives of those who were lost.

You will need:

one red candle

Instructions:

  1. On the base of the candle, carve a symbol to represent Covid-19. This is most easily done by carving a circle with numerous, small protrusions coming from the surface. Once you have made this carving, it is important that you not use the candle for any other use, although you can use one candle multiple times.
  2. Light the candle. As the candle burns, recite the names of those who were lost, especially of those you knew. If you do not know anyone who has died from Covid-19, it is enough to meditate on the lives lost.
  3. As you meditate, blow on the candle. Blow gently at first, so as to not extinguish the candle immediately. This controlled use of breath is important, as Covid-19 suffocated so many of our people, and even those who survived have trouble breathing long after they’ve “recovered”. Blow gently and continuously on the candle flame, observing the way the flame bends and shifts under the air currents.
  4. Blow at least fourteen times on the candle flame, one for each day we were told (erroneously) it would take to recover from the disease.
  5. After the fourteenth gust of air, extinguish the candle flame entirely. Understand that the flame, like a life, is gone. Ashes and smoke are all that remains.

This is your Covid Candle. It is your reminder, your sacrifice, your offering to the spirits of those we have lost. Make your offering at least every new moon, but more if you feel called to.

[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]