There has been a lot of distressing news lately, and it has left me distracted and heavy of heart. If you don’t mind, I would like to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming. There are a few things I think I need to say, and at least nod my head at recent events…
“What ghosts is our generation going to leave behind?”
The above quote came from the mouth of a comedian, as my wife and I sat in attendance to an open mic night. Yet, the question has sat in my mind, there is something very profound here, even it was just a set up for a punchline.
I have been working with spirits and the dead long enough to know that there is a difference between a natural death, and a violent one. Death, as I have come to understand, is a kind of breaking, a form of spiritual and physical entropy, when all we are breaks down and turns into something else. My body, my physical self, will go to the worms (burial), or the clouds (burning), and/or any other form of final end I choose. It could become a tree if I wanted.
But that is a topic for another time. Other parts of my spiritual self will be broken away; some to join the ancestors and live on, others to be lost and recycled. Some part of who I am will live on in my descendants (ideally), and live on in the memories of those I touched.
That is the thing, that people we truly love and touch in our lives; we become part of them. We “spirit swap” for lack of a better phrase. We take part of them into ourselves, and they take some part of us. A bond is created, a connection. That connection is broken (or greatly diminished), when one of those people passes on. A hole is left in the one that still lives. I know I have felt it. That void that is left when a loved one passes.
But all that assumes a natural death. A violent death is very different, at least in my experience. It is not just a “breaking” down of the physical/spiritual self. It is a sundering, a tearing, a shattering of the body as well as the spirit. While a natural death can be seen as the spirit “passing” out of the body, a violent death is the spirit and body being torn apart, and torn to pieces.
This leaves behind angry spirits, not just confused ones. Ones with anger, and calls for vengeance. It is felt too among those that still live. Their spirit is wounded as well; as one spirit is ripped away all those it was connected to feel the pull. The living are wounded, and broken, just the same as the dead.
Perhaps Yoda said it best;
“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Also, as I have mentioned many times before on this blog, perhaps Princess Mononoke is a good example as well, the part in the beginning when Nago falls in the village.
““Oh nameless god of rage and hate, I bow before you. A mound will be raised and funeral rites preformed on this ground where you have fallen. Pass on in peace, and bear us no hatred.
To which the boar responds;
“Disgusting little creatures. Soon all of you will feel my hate, and suffer as I have suffered.””
That is an angry spirit, which is exactly the point I am trying to get at. As a hunter, I am complicit in my share of “violent” deaths, though the intent might be debatable different. I would contend that there is a difference between hunting (food) and murder (killing). We can split those hairs later.
The point being, is that I have first hand experience of the kinds of spirits violent death spawns. They are sundered and wounded, confused as well as angry. My first task after a kill is to do everything in my power to placate and make peace with that angry spirit, and often its ancestors as well. In short, I have to heal what is broken.
But I cannot in good conscience say that is true of every violent death in the world these days. I would suspect that proper burial, mourning and grief from the living goes a long towards healing broken spirits, and healing those wounds in both the living and the dead. ‘Rest in peace’ is not just a quint curiosity.
Yet, there are those that are dead from violence that are never properly healed and placated. And that is when the words from Yoda ring even more true. Something starts to happen to the angry dead after they go untended for a time. That anger starts to fester into hate, and something else. Like a deep wound without treatment, the angry dead start to fester. and become infected. That is when they become the toxic dead. They become like Nago, a demon. Something that becomes hell bent on others suffering as well.
So I want to return the original question of this post. What ghosts are we leaving behind? What angry spirits are left untended to fester? Wars, mass shootings, racial violence… The list is a long one.
I will let Jigo have the last word;
“These days, there are angry ghosts all around us. Dead from wars, sickness, starvation, and nobody cares. So you say you’re under a curse, so what, so is the whole damn world.”