I feel mentally bulldozed in a strange way. For those who haven’t heard the news, us Canadians have just had a major shooting. The last one of this magnitude was a shooting aimed just against women at the Polytechnique school.
It’s one thing to hear of atrocities happening all over the world, and its always stranger when it’s closer to home. Furthermore, I’d like to point out to any American reader that shootings barely ever happen in Canada. When they do, they’re a big fucking deal. We mourn them seriously.
Anyways, this news leaves me feeling strangely – distant? Dissociated? Upset without really knowing why? Part of me has a knee-jerk reaction of ‘Oh, just another shooting in the world’, while the rest of me is very shocked and upset that this happened in my country. That innocent people were killed.
I’m majorly left wondering what to do with myself. Is it appropriate to sit down and write and just ignore the fact that we’ve had a mass murder? Is it appropriate to let this take over my life, when there are so many other deaths in the world?
Balance is key, I suppose, but I am no expert. I’ve heard there is going to be a national vigil online sometime this Friday (I think). But, again, what would be appropriate to do? What is sensible, in a way caring for yourself without letting the grief take over, as well as honoring the dead of these senseless acts?
I would like to suggest, as a pagan and a polytheist, some ideas for self care and to care for the dead of this massacre.
- Write a letter to your favorite deity, or a deity who specializes in helping the dead pass on (a psychopomp such as Anubis or Saint Michael), asking them to care for the dead and help them find peace after such horrific ends. Burn the letter to transmit it to your deity/spirit of choice.
- Pray to an appropriate deity (Sekhmet? Bast? Ma’at? I’m not quite sure who would be in charge of purifying a soul. Perhaps a Buddhist tradition would have more specific deities for such a purpose.) for the spirit of the attacker to be purified so as to cause no further trouble as a spirit. You can see this as fire burning away the evil in their heart or the anger that may have caused them to commit such actions.
- Light a candle with the intent of it lighting a way/ opening a channel for the dead to find their way. Again, you may consult or ask the aid of a psychopomp for aid in this.
- Write a letter to the deceased in this tragedy and burn it for it to reach them. Offer them your help (within your own limits) and maybe even invite them to a small ritual with candles and a dumb supper. This could be a nice chance to let them talk to you, pour their grief out, and basically process their own death with you.
Remember to take care of yourself! Cleanse and purify your space with incense that gives off a solemn vibe (but nothing too cheerful). Acknowledge your grief, but set the intent that you will carry on in honor of them, not despite them.
If you do have any specific mourning practices in your tradition that you will be performing to honor these deceased, I’d love to hear them!