Looking back, this was my first experience with the death of a loved one. And the first time I’d held space, and conducted a spiritual ceremony (in my own way). My grandfather had passed. In some way, my grandfather’s death brought out the priestess in me
Why am I telling you this now? As I began to write an article on the New Moon, I realized that the last time we had one at 2 degrees Virgo was August 26, 1995, 19 years ago. It’s a good practice to look back to that time to see which cycles in your life you are repeating, but at a (hopefully) higher level of vibration. I looked back, and suddenly it all began to make sense…
So here we go…
My grandfather wasn’t a man given to displays of cuddly affection, but he adored me. We used to like watching boxing matches (the real kind) on TV and hanging out in each other’s presence.
My grandfather made me laugh. I remember asking him one day, when I was very little, as to why his hair was white and his skin was black. He explained that one time, he fell into the White Sea and came out completely White. He then fell into the Black Sea, but someone caught him by his hair, which was why it was white – but the rest of him was Black.
I remember sagely considering this explanation and nodding …..
He was the only other astrologer and palmist in my family. And also a lover of Super-Heroes.
In fact, my first word wasn’t amma (Mother) or appa (Father), it was Tata (Grandfather).
I suspect I inherited many of his traits and preferences.
In a time where I was traumatized by acts of hatred, prejudice and bigotry (on a daily basis at the school I went to – there was really no place else to go), he taught me the worth of ‘just being there’, the healing power of presence. I remember that he would cycle over to a ridge overlooking the play-area to check if I was okay during the recess hour.
Seeing that tall, dark figure made me feel safe – I remember him standing there with his cap, by his green bicycle. It was one of the few things that eased the worst of my pain, as did my mum’s courage in fighting for justice from the school board – but that’s a different story for another time.
A few days prior to his death, he’d called me to his room and read out his will. I didn’t really get what was going on. But I remember it happening. I remember his room and him reading out sums and people it was supposed to go to. It felt like a big secret he’d let me in on, but I wasn’t even sure what it was.
On the day that he died, I remember bursting to go to the loo and being dismayed at finding it locked. Little did I know that my grandfather was lying dead on the floor, separated by a single wooden door. A few hours later, the rest of my family got suspicious and mum broke down the door, to find him dead.
I wasn’t surprised. And oddly excited. I felt relief. In retrospect, it was probably the knowledge that he was finally released from a life that had carried so much struggle for him. But I didn’t understand my emotions then. I wondered why I didn’t cry, or scream, or miss him.
During his funeral, held a few days later (so that my aunt and uncle who lived abroad could attend), I was absolutely calm and strangely elated. Like a big weight had been lifted. I didn’t cry, I just felt happy and played with my cousins. I remember sitting on the silver swing we had, where my grandfather would sit and smoke his pipe (he could blow smoke bubbles). And I was laughing, smiling, like a princess entertaining her guests. It didn’t seem disrespectful. I know I was ‘holding court’ for some reason. And the energy was uplifting.
Not knowing why, I fasted (abstained from meat) for a week as a token of respect. I remember longingly looking at a can of stewed pork belly that everyone else was dishing out – It used to be one of my favorite meals (I don’t eat pork anymore- perhaps that’s why it’s been the dish that has been the hardest to let go of). I still remember sighing inwardly at that fruit salad I opted to have instead… ha!
It just felt important to do that. And for a few months afterwards, I’d periodically send a balloon and a note tied to it with a piece of string upwards. Till I didn’t feel the need to anymore. I visited a sacred site known as Batu Caves (limestone hills which house an old temple dedicated to Lord Murugan, here in Malaysia) for years afterwards as he was born nearby. He was named after the mountains, as Batu Malai (Stone Mountain) which he later changed.
In retrospect, his birth name fit him perfectly. He was stoic, but the kind of stoic that lets you know the world is fine. And all is well.
Thinking about it – I honored his death in a way that felt true to me and I know I facilitated the passage as best I could. Holding space, bringing in the vibration of joy and release. And it just happened. Spontaneously. You could call it my first public act of Priestessing. It would be a fair description.
It is somewhat ironic that my second spiritual officiation of any kind at a funeral was for the death of his son, my uncle. This was a lot more recent, in 2010. I officiated over the proceedings, ensured that the proper rituals were done, prayers were said and delivered the eulogy. Again, it just happened.
Something tells me one of my reasons for being here is to facilitate those transitions, at the very least, for my birth family. As a kindred soul pointed out, the path of the Psychopomp, amongst many others.
But there you have it. Nineteen years ago, in the shadow of the the Virgo New Moon – I did my job for the first time and began my spiritual vocation. Remember that Virgo is linked with health, healing, rituals, routines, service. I see her as the Archetype of Self-Sufficiency, that has enough and can still give to Others with Integrity. I see her as.. The Priestess.
This is my story, and to me – it all fits. Feel free to share your recollections or major turning points and new beginnings from August 1995 as you face the Virgo New Moon on August 25th, 2014. It’s a powerful one!
Blessings and Love to All,
Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam, PhD
Image information: By Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons