I owe this tale appearing to H J Blenkinsop a Twitter friend who is a Myth, monster and legend fiend, like me. She asked me to share, so I am pleased to oblige.
As some of you who read this blog may know, I describe myself as Herself’s undertaker. I am not one of the willowy, velvet-draped witches who enjoy dancing sky-clad under the moon. For a start I am too old, too arthritic and too sensible and I have rather dirty work to do physically and psychically. My “ritual gear” is jeans and a sweater, much the same as my normal garb.
I’m a true Crone. No, I don’t have the hooked nose or chin but I do the job and have a lifetime’s experience to go on. I train the younger ones and when possible try to teach them to dress appropriately, but it is up to them if they want to dry-clean floaty fabrics. I am too busy!
We Crones have gone by many names and are under the protection of the Goddess in many of her forms– Morrigan, Isis, Cerridwen.. all the same Lady but in different guises.
I transport the dead. That’s my job. No it isn’t glamorous but someone has to do it and I seem to have been chosen because from as far back as I can remember I couldn’t leave a dead animal to be re-squashed on the road, or un-honoured in the dustbin or down the lavatory. I had to pay my respects and say a few words of farewell, a departure, sending them on their onward journey.
These days I know a bit more and invoke whatever deity seems appropriate. Most obviously when a feline is delivered to me I tickle its still belly and call it “Bestest Beloved of Bast” before going on a shamanic journey to the Egyptian cat-goddesses temple to deliver it home.
Some of my friends know about this and ask me to do a ritual for their pets when they pass over. Even those who claim to believe in nothing would like to think that Fluffy is not really gone but moved onto a kinder place. Here I put on the cloak and hood of the “kindly Crone who snuffs the guttering candle”.
A friend of mine who is a devout Christian but knew their local priest wouldn’t consider doing a service for a pet, contacted me in distress so here is what I did. I always ask for a photograph of the animal so that I can fix it in my mind and then I trance walked to it. The dog had been put to sleep in the local vet’s but nobody seemed to notice the old lady in the waiting room, a large box on her lap. When the consultation room door was open I slipped in and stroked the dog’s head, calling his name softly. The vet nurse was working on the computer and didn’t notice a shadow of the dog leap down from the table, young and healthy, licking the hand of the old lady who wubbled his head and clicked her fingers for him to walk with her. The Crone then went to the dead body on the table, traced a cross over it and said – sleep well til you wake with friends, dead one.
In my trace I found myself walking in the Italian hills, the young dog prancing and playing at my feet until I found who I was looking for. A monk in a brown habit, sat on a fallen log, chatting animatedly to some birds and squirrels. I bowed low and he greeted me as an old friend.
Francesco took the dog from me and played with it, letting him lick his face and laughing joyfully. Oh yes, this one had been expected. I smiled and turned to go but a slight cough made me turn back. The old man had his hand raised in the three-finger gesture of blessing. Knowing that all blessings are valuable, and this one was meant for the dog’s owner, I bowed my head and accepted it.
“Thank you, Franco. Blessed be, you too.”
We make no distinctions. The Rainbow Bridge is totally ecumenical and your beloved animal can be cared for by whoever suits you best.
Epona the Gentle White Mare cares for many horses I have had to lead to her pastures, including two I held while they died. Jesus said “suffer the little children” but he doesn’t distinguish between animal or human kids. I’m just the Undertaker Crone. I take them where they are expected. I’m blessed and happy to do so. Nobody has ever turned me away and sometimes I am given a treat, some special blessing to nibble on while I come home.