Congratulations to Ambrose, Rommy, and KH! I've contacted everyone, and now it's time to go howl at the full moon. Fly by tomorrow as the full October moon rises again and there will be a new handful of treats to be had!
Memento mori. Remember death. Remember that you must die. It seems impossible that we could forget such a thing after spending the last year and a half navigating a pandemic that has ushered over four million people to their graves, worldwide. We should want to set death aside for a while, shouldn't we? Perhaps. And yet, death doesn't stand aside for anyone. It is a vital part of the human experience.
In many cultures death is not something to hide from or fear. It is holy. A transition to be celebrated. Every part of this process, from how we take care of the body, to how (or if) a person is buried, and the customs and celebrations that might happen for years afterward, can be a reverent and sometimes jubilant practice that connects us to our ancestors, even as we become them.
Although many of us remember our dead year-round, this month is particularly suited for ancestral reverence. It also seems like an auspicious time to befriend our own impermanence. I have some wonderful tools to assist you if you should wish to use this hallowed tide to contemplate your mortality.
In much of the United States, Canada, and England, the protocol around death and burial follows a Christian, or Christian-adjacent etiquette. It is sanitary, modest, and rote. A body goes somewhere and is 'dealt-with' (by folks we've trusted to handle that task), while live people gather in a church or cemetery for a memorial service. But what if we, or our beloved dead, are of a different faith? How might those on paths that fall under the pagan umbrella ritualize our passing, or navigate the bereavement process in a way that respects our beliefs and practices? In their book Do I Have to Wear Black: Rituals, Customs & Funerary Etiquette for Modern Pagan, Mortellus takes a look at multiple Pagan paths and how they address death, offering up some corresponding prayers and rites, as well as how we might care for those left behind. The book examines various views of death and the afterlife, plus includes practical information on advanced planning (wills, funerary arrangements). Mortellus is a mortician and medium, as well as an author, and their expertise shines through in this book. Do I Have to Wear Black is an informative and friendly read, and one I think will offer a helping hand in preparing for the loss of a loved one, or even planning our own departure.
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, by Caitlin Doughty is a superlative (and spooky) journey through the wider world's death customs and funerary rites, told through the unique lens of its mortician author. It is a bright and fascinating book, for a subject that may seem heavy, and the author weaves a good balance of wit and reverence while recounting her research. She brings to light how many people in the western world fear death, and how other cultures embrace, celebrate, and honour the transition out of the human body. (Unsurprisingly, Caitlin is a foundational figure in the death positive movement and the architect behind The Order of The Good Death, a community of funeral-industry folks, along with academics and artists, who have come together to envision and create ways to address how we face our end-of-life experience.) From Here to Eternity is engrossing - I kept wanting to read one more chapter...Spain! Bolivia! Japan! - and I know it will be another perfect addition for your reading stack this month.
We close the casket on this giveaway with a handsome piece to rest with...or wear around your neck. A delightful winged skull named "Gilbert," hand cut from an original drawing, in sterling silver. His creatrix is the brilliant Patricia Tozer, (Tree Speaks to Stone) who was inspired by the engravings found on 18th century gravestones in New England. This memento mori has a special patina added so that his best features stand out, and he will happily guard you (and remind you of life's impermanence) from the end of an eighteen inch chain. I am an ardent fan of Pati's creations and own a few of their gorgeous talismans, so I know that whoever welcomes Gilbert home will be very lucky indeed! You can take a look at more of Pati's extraordinary art here.
This giveaway will run until 9pm (Pacific) on Tuesday, October 19th. Your comment is your entry, and if you have your eye on something in particular you can let me know what you'd prefer if you win. I try my best to match up names drawn with their preferences when possible. Please ensure there is a way for me to contact you if you win. An email left in a safe format, such as: JenLovesBooks AT gmail dot com, is best. If you are of a more private sort, you can always enter via the contact form at the bottom of the side column (I've been getting all the entries sent that way, so no worries).
This month has already been such a hoot - thank you to all who are joining in on my October fun!
* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America, who are 18 years of age or older. This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law. Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.
* Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada). The skill testing question will be in a form similar to: 1 + 2 - 1 =
* This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.
* This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.
* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.
I have chosen all the books/cards featured this month myself. I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone. This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop.