Full moons sometimes pass me by. I don’t have any sacred obligations tied to that phase, so if it’s a cloudy sky, or I don’t look up, I might not actually notice that it’s moved from waxing into waning again. There are times when I don’t need to look up to know it’s the day of the full moon, though, such as last night. I had plans to visit my mother and talk a bit about our ancestors, and so I took note that our date had fallen on a full moon with an eclipse.
Ancestor shrine, circa spring 2015
By the by, our ancestor shrine is shaping up nicely. I’m definitely interested in looking at pictures of these people as they looked in life, but so far, we haven’t been lead to include any in the shrine itself. Instead there are a variety of objects.
- The mug on the left of the picture has the logo of a fighter plane produced by the company my father worked for. I have been using it to offer water.
- Next to that is a black mirror. Since we often don’t know what a particular ancestor looked like, we can always look in the mirror instead. Our ancestors helped make our own faces, so they look out from the eyes in the reflection.
- Coins are used for divination, which was what I thought I would be writing about in this post, not details about every object here.
- On the offering plate go other things we are giving to our ancestors.
- At the other end is a drawing of a satyr dancing and piping. My wife’s mother made it.
I didn’t get to spend so much time looking through pictures and the like with my mother, because she was facing a transition in her living arrangements, and I needed to support that instead. Nevertheless, I found at least one picture of one of my great-grandfathers. People on my mother’s side of the family took dressing up quite seriously; every picture I’ve seen from that branch has folks dressed to the nines, or at least in ties and dresses.
On the way back home, which is a couple hours’ worth of driving without weekend traffic, I had time to think and be open. When at one point I grew bored of silence and hit the “scan” button on the radio, the first station I found was playing Greek music, followed by a news update in Greek, and then a variety of other Greek tunes interspersed with the bilingual banter of the show’s host. I do not speak Greek, and I barely know anything of the culture or music from that side of my mother’s family, but it’s certainly a big part of why I honor the theoi rather than some other set of gods. It also seemed like this could very well be a sign, perhaps from my Greek grandfather, so I continued to listen.
America’s melting pot didn’t take long to dissolve that part of my heritage, and all I got growing up was a few recipes which had been handed down, none of which I ever found very tasty. My grandfather tried very hard to teach his descendants the language, actually employing a tutor for my eldest uncles, but he was gone before I was old enough to read in any language. The only evidence I ever saw was a reading primer tucked into a rarely-used bookshelf; none of the letters made any sense to me.
What I do have, besides a few choice pictures which I may share here in time, was a memory that he considered my father to be the most Greek of his children-in-law, because — despite having no Mediterranean blood — Dad was more than happy to drink Ouzo with him. Therefore, the question I asked using the three coins on the shrine was whether or not my grandfather and his line would like offerings of Ouzo from time to time. The response was positive, which means another bottle of alcohol to buy. I already offer much more alcohol to the dead than I drink myself, because Dad and a few others in the family have a taste for Scotch that I lack, and I have a suspicion that my father will gladly partake of the Ouzo, as well.