On the night of Jan. 31st, I did something I’d never attempted before — I livestreamed a ritual, one we’ve never shared in completion outside the membership of House Kheperu. The ritual was our Night of Shades, a seasonal celebration honoring the disembodied — our term for the Kheprian dead.
Outside of those connected to our small tradition, I wasn’t sure how the rite would be received. I wasn’t even sure how well livestreaming a ritual would work. Fully prepared for the “oomph” of the ritual to be lost in translation, I went through the motions anyway so those who were interested could observe and get a feel for what it is we do when we gather in the privacy of our ritual space eight times a year for our seasonal rites.
Since airing the rite, there has been an outpouring of supportive comments, respectful questions, and heart-felt thanks. Many of you who follow me on social media know that I’ve been focusing on the creative side of my writing for the past little while, putting almost all of my energy into the Shadowside series. As I’ve been writing the books about Zack Westland and his dubious allies, I’ve not ceased being an active element within House Kheperu — a ritualist, a teacher, and a spiritual guide — but I have stopped talking as extensively about that portion of my life as I once did online.
The response to the Night of Shades ritual tells me that maybe I’ve been remiss in that.
Since livestreaming the rite, I’ve posted the video — with its brief introduction and Q&A session afterward — up on YouTube. You can view the ritual here.
And for those who may not have caught all the words of some of the readings, I am posting them here.
First, here are the words inked upon that little scroll of papyrus that we keep on the Family Shrine. This is the scroll read by the person chosen to serve as Speaker for the Dead in our Night of Shades ritual.
Representing the sentiments of the gathered spirits, the words give voice to the voiceless in our ritual space. The Speaker for the Dead connects to the spirits as completely as he or she is comfortable doing in that role, allowing some of the energy of our disembodied to come through in our shared ritual space. The short phrases in parentheses at the end of each section are typically said in a whispery tone, allowing that energy to ride on the breath:
We are those
who have passed beyond the flesh,
the whisper of dead leaves.
Our Names are many:
who we were
who we are
who we will be …
Tied here —
We are Kheprian.
We cannot leave.
We are waiting
on the edge of perception.
We do what we can.
Do not forget us.
We are your Family.
Do not forget.
(Think of us)
The next piece to share is the reading drawn from the funerary tradition of the ancient Egyptians. Why them? I have always found the symbolism within their funerary tradition both lyrical and relevant. The words are pretty and they express what I wanted for this part of the rite. That has always been enough reason for me:
Make of him an undying spirit.
Grant him mastery over his body.
Grant him openings before his eyes.
Let all the spirits see him,
and let them all hear his Name.
Let his Name draw him back to himself,
so that he is never lost.
Grant him knowledge of his path
and the ways of return.
Finally, here is an image of the scroll, which I hand-lettered on a strip of papyrus: