A Memento Mori ritual – to remember you will die.

There’s a lot going on this Saturday – a full moon in Taurus and The Addams Family watch party. But remember death… after all, this is what this festival is all about.

Espoused by business and performance coaches, and Stoic philosophers alike, we don’t need to journey with a shaman or plant medicine to be introduced to our ancestors; they are with us here and now.

And they are enchanted when we remember them in daily or weekly practice. They love being welcomed into our lives.

Through rites and remembrance you will quickly feel the support of deceased relatives, loved ones, even pets and places, and behind them will be the steady wisdom and presence from the ranks of long dead ancestors.

You will need:

  • A small glass of water
  • An ‘Anima Sola’ postcard (to represent all deceased souls) or photos of deceased relatives and loved ones
  • A small white candle (optional)
  • Incense (optional)

Start by setting up a small altar space with your pictures, and place before them your incense in a holder, and any other small offerings such as a crystal, a little posy of flowers, or some small delicious sweets.

You will change and refresh these offerings regularly as your relationship with your ancestors deepens.

The ritual takes no more than a few minutes and ideally should be performed daily (after all, a vital part of the purpose of the ritual is to remind us that each day may be our last and to live it as such) first thing on waking before doing anything else.

1. Light your candle and place a fresh glass of water on the altar. Bring to mind your dead. Name them, aloud or in your mind. Say out loud or in your mind:

“This is an offering from the living to the dead. This is an offering to my ancestors, relatives and friends. Thank you for all you brought to the world, thank you for your frailties, your loves and fears.

Thank you for your shadows and your light. Please remember me and look favourably upon me, as I remember and look favourably upon you.”

2. Call to mind all the souls who have died over the centuries in the vicinity of where you stand. 

“This is an offering to the local dead, whose dust and bones we walk upon. Thank you for your lives in this place, thank you for sharing your struggles and passions with this land that holds me. I remember you and look favourably upon you.”

3. Now, try to imagine just a few individuals from the millions who have died in human history and are now entirely lost and forgotten.

“This is an offering to the long dead, with none to remember them. Your fate belongs to us all. Thank you for your lives, your struggles, your passions. I remember you and look favourably upon you.”

4. End by considering death as a concept, and your own inevitable passing.

“Death, walk with me. Teach me every day to die and be reborn. Make me unafraid, for death is but a new chapter, and help me live every day as though it were my last.”

Bow your head, pinch out your candle, quell your incense, smile at your beloveds. Your memento mori ritual is complete.

To kick start a deeper relationship with the spirit world, petition St Nicholas: you will soon be crowdsurfing on the happy shoulders of your allies in the otherworld.