August 15th is the one day shared between Mourning Days (a three day festival of introspection and remembrance) and the Ghost Festival (a sixteen day festival).
With Mourning Days, I spend one day cleansing and attending to cemeteries. I’d spend more doing it but often life gets in the way. I have a real love, admiration, and fascination with cemeteries and graveyards. I use to volunteer and work for the state finding missing cemeteries, marking them with GPS so they can be added to maps, recording their condition, and cleaned it up if necessary (although this varied per person.) I love studying death rituals and cemeteries are gorgeous. Pillars of carved memorials only worn away by time embedded in living earth. Ugh. I can’t even express it to you with rambling poetry. A community of the deceased, laid together in the same ground but always apart, always alone.
Don’t mistake my fascination with cemeteries and death rituals as a fascination with death or murder. I like the cultural ethos around funerals, deaths, and act of honoring the deceased. I care more about how the dead are honored and how the living treat the dead then the method of death itself (unless the method of death or the condition of the body actually affects how the deceased is treated).
The rest of the time during Mourning Days, I spent with vague honors to the deceased ones I know and introspection. By vague I mean I light a vigil candle and incense. With introspection, I sit down and think. I think about those who have passed and how they affected my life. I think about how I would feel in my last thoughts of death, what I would regret or want more of. And then I use that nostalgia and meditation to plan for the future.
With Ghost Festival, it leaps off Mourning Days right into dealing with the spirits of the dead. Now I don’t deal with the spirits of the dead often. That’s my brother, the Necromancer’s gig. I don’t want it and my experiences with the dead haven’t been awesome. However, I feel that ignoring the dead entirely is an injustice as my role of a spirit walker so I spend the Ghost Festival keying into that “range” of spirits. I say range because I like to explain the different feel of spiritual energy by comparing them to frequencies. I don’t think spiritual energy is frequencies I just find people understand it easier when explaining it to folks who don’t really get or want detailed explanations. On the same train of thought, I think that ghosts can be tracked by equipment that pick up frequencies.
Anyway, I spend Ghost Festival really wandering around and seeing, talking to, and listening to ghosts. That’s what I do. Sometimes, those ghosts are just impressions, fragments of who or what they once were and other times they’re nearly full people, dead people but people none the less.
At the same time, it should be noted that the Dying Days of Summer Festival still runs till the 24th. During that particular festival, I spend it celebrating summer, the heat and the ecstasy of summer itself. The last throes of the year before preparing for the harvest and the cold, sleep of the year.
Now despite being a secular witch, I’m a spiritual person. I know there are gods. I know there are spirits. And I know they share the same world as me. I cannot, personally, exist and live without acknowledging them and their lives. My festivals are more like parties. They are not worshiping and they are not part of a religion. There are years I feel like I don’t need a Ghost Festival or often I don’t do a damn thing during the festival but acknowledge that it’s a thing I should be doing. It’s separate from my witchcraft. Maybe it is the foundations of a religion but I like to see it as my own spirituality. My witchcraft doesn’t include it. I do not do spells or charms for my festivals. This is my personal way of dealing with the things I see, know, and experience.