It feels only apt that my very first blog post on Mystic Coven is about death work. The cycle of life and death fascinated the morbid child that I was and this fascination has only continued in my life. One of my aims for Mystic Coven was to demystify aspects of the occult to the best of my abilities. And this is aptly the first attempt towards that goal. So without further dilly-dallying, let's hop right in to get a 101 on death work.
In the world of occult, "death work" refers to spiritual practices or rituals focused on working with the energies and symbolism of death, transformation, and rebirth. These practices may involve communicating with spirits of the deceased, working with deities associated with death and the afterlife. Death work also encompasses practices aimed at facilitating the physical or spiritual transition of a dying person or animal, such as performing healing rituals, conducting funerary rites, or guiding souls to the afterlife.
But death work can also be as simple as performing rituals aimed at letting go of old patterns, beliefs, or relationships. Death work isn't a scary thing and it doesn't mean you have to work with spirits or deities if your beliefs are more secular and atheistic in nature. Always remember the key tenet of witchcraft: your craft what you make of it as it is deeply personal. Unless you're a part of a coven that follows certain dogma, your craft may look completely different than any other witch's practice.
While death work can be a powerful tool for personal growth, healing, and transformation, it should always be approached with caution and respect for the natural cycle of life and death. It's important to work with experienced practitioners and to seek out guidance and support as needed.
You can think of death work like the cycle of the moon we need time to rest, rejuvenate, and feel whole again. In the cycles of the moon, the waning phase represents death or release of old patterns and energies, while the new moon represents a time of rest and potential for new beginnings. Similarly, death work can be seen as a process of releasing old patterns, beliefs, or relationships that are no longer serving us, in order to create space for new growth and transformation. Just as the moon goes through a continuous cycle of death and rebirth, so too does the natural world, and by working with the energies of death, we can tap into the transformative power of nature and facilitate our own personal growth and renewal.
Death work can bring about healing of a stranger but stronger kind. It is not for the faint of heart.
In Tarot the Major Arcana cards that represent death work the best are:
Death - This is the most obvious of the lot. It represents the end of a cycle, transformation, and new beginnings.
Tower - This card represents sudden change, upheaval, and the breaking down of old structures. It can be a difficult and painful process, but it represents a phase in your life that is necessary to gain a fresh perspective and beginning in life.
Judgement - This card represents rebirth as well but it is a less painful transition as it comes with awakening and a new awareness of our true selves. It can also signify the need to let go of old judgments or self-limiting beliefs in order to embrace our full potential.
Star - This card represents the light at the end of the tunnel, the hope and promise of new beginnings that come after a period of darkness or transition like the one we see Tower and Death cards signify. It can serve as a reminder that there is always a glimmer of hope and a potential for growth. It also represents a period of calm and serenity after a storm.
Herbs that are often associated with death work: Mugwort, Datura, Marigold, Neem, Mandrake
(These should always be used with caution and respect. Many of them can have powerful effects on the body and mind, and even be toxic)