By Frater S.C.F.V.
A. Context of Working: Spiritual Forces Aligning at the Sudden Death of “Michael”
On July 12, 2022, I was informed that one of my elderly homecare clients, whom I will call “Michael” to protect his identity, was found dead in his room.
As it turns out, shortly before Michael died as we later discovered when time of death was determined, he had left me a touching voicemail about his friend Nancy, saying that he missed her and wished to see her more.
“Talk to you soon, man” Michael said, before ending his call.
Not long after that, he appeared to have died of natural causes linked to one of his many health conditions.
It was later suspected that he passed away either due to the cessation of breathing after choosing not to use his sleep apnea machine or a cardiac issue had led to his death.
In a sad turn of fate, the person who found Michael lying dead in his bed the next morning was the very person about whom he had left his final voicemail — Nancy.
She was stopping by to bring him some breakfast, a breakfast he sadly never got to eat.
As it turned out, Michael’s homecare Nurse, whom I’ll call “Haley,” happened to stop in to see Michael just as Nancy was still there after discovering his body.
The amazing thing was that Michael was not on Haley’s nursing route for that morning — she said that “something” had prompted her to bring Nancy some of the tubigrip Michael had to have wrapped around his legs to reduce swelling.
As an occultist and reader, I can’t help but see the aligning of spiritual forces coming together here — Michael’s last call to me being about Nancy; Nancy showing up to bring him breakfast mere hours after he passed away; a spiritual ‘nudge’ bringing Haley to his apartment at the same moment Nancy would need her to be comforted after the traumatic discovery of his body; Michael sharing his final message about Nancy with me so that I could share it with her to show Nancy how much she meant to him and what a profound impact she had on his life…
It was like the golden threads of each of our life paths had been woven together in this significant moment to weave a beautiful tapestry of meaning, healing, and spiritual import….
As the great rootwork and conjure teachers would say, this was a “crossroads moment” where life, death, and the hearts of the living and the dead came together for a key purpose.
After Haley found Nancy crying near Michael’s body, she gracefully completed the necessary follow-ups for paramedics to come to intervene with Michael.
The paramedics did not attempt CPR because his body was already cold, suggesting he had died the night before, shortly after he left me his final message.
I spent the morning consoling Nancy, who was understandably distraught by this ordeal, and made a plan with her to offer her some support in the weeks to come as she processes the traumatic experience of finding someone she cared about dead in their home.
I spent the afternoon helping to organize for the funeral home to pick up Michael’s body and coordinating with his ex-wife, whom I’ll call “Emma,” as she was listed as Michael’s official next-of-kin.
Michael did have children, but they had sadly not spoken to him in 20 years. As he once told me, “I made a lot of mistakes with my children, mistakes I regret — I just wished I could have told them I loved them and am proud of them.”
Michael’s siblings lived in another province, and unfortunately, we had no contact information for any of them.
Tragically, when Emma unlocked Michael’s phone, she found that he only had a few numbers saved: hers, mine, Nancy’s, and Haley’s.
He did not even have numbers to reach his children or siblings. This is an important point, which I’ll come back to later, as it shaped the direction of the spiritual work to be done to help him after his passing…
Due to Michael’s descendants and family members being out of reach, it fell on Emma and me to try to plan Michael’s funeral arrangements.
Quite understandably, Emma was not very close to Michael after their divorce, but she was nonetheless very distressed by his sudden passing as they had been close for many years.
Indeed, we all were — I had worked with Michael regularly over the past 3 years and expected him to live many more years to come.
But Death comes on its own schedule, whether we expect it or not.
Emma believed that Michael would have wanted a Catholic funeral, but I explained to her that he was a devout Buddhist. He and I had often discussed Buddhism and he used to light incense for the Buddha every day.
Very touchingly, Michael had compassion for a little squirrel he used to feed as part of his Dharma practice; “Squirrely” as he called him, would come into his bedroom every morning to pick up some of the deluxe almonds and cashews Michael spoiled him with, would leave, and would come back the next morning. Michael always left his patio door ajar so that Squirrely could come in, get his breakfast, and leave.
Medically, Michael’s Nurse and I had concerns about the squirrel coming into his home from the perspective of possibly carrying rabies, fleas, etc., but spiritually, I knew it was alright and a valuable part of his practice by which Saint Francis of Assisi would have been pleased. Squirrely only came to the apartment to eat and always left right after.
In light of Michael’s wishes and spiritual path, I suggested that Michael would have wanted a Buddhist funeral. I informed Emma that he had once asked me to give an incense offering on his behalf, which I had committed to do.
After providing Emma with emotional support, helping her with the kinds of follow-ups we have to do after someone passes away (e.g. informing the government to end their benefits, doing tax follow-ups, searching for a will, dealing with creditors, etc.), we went on to start planning the funeral.
I put Emma in contact with a local Buddhist Temple that I had previously inquired with to help Michael get some Dharma teachings to request their help with the funeral planning. Emma and I then made a plan for the next few days of steps from the practical, mundane side of things.
As for me, I began to plan for the spiritual work I would do to continue to help Michael beyond the grave.
B. Working the Herbs and Light: Offerings and Rootwork to Aid the Transition
Once home, in order to honor my promise to Michael to light incense for him, say goodbye, and help him in the next stages of his progression from this world, I wanted to do some offerings on his behalf.
I divined with some of the Spirits with whom I worked and put together a series of offerings to honour and support him.
Buddhists like Michael don’t precisely believe we have a “spirit,” but they do believe in a continuity of consciousness from one incarnation to another.
Whatever the transition should look like for Michael, I wanted to help ease his path.
Therefore, first, I prepared some bread for him in case he does not yet realize he has died and would benefit from the energy.
Second, I prepared a shot of Sortilège, which is a Canadian sweet maple whisky, which I thought Michael would enjoy as a French Canadian raised surrounded by sugar shacks. From the magical side, I knew the sugar would also help “sweeten” him to the work to be done and the transition ahead of him.
In addition, whisky is often used in conjure and in several ATRs in offerings for the dead. My hope was to nurture and warm Michael’s consciousness–I would say spirit in my paradigm–and also to help sweeten him to his new existence and “lift his spirits” or cheer him up.
Funny enough, “sortilège” is French for sorcery; how appropriate for a magical working.
Third, I showed him some different incenses and asked him to nudge me when I hovered over one he liked. I was going to go with Frankincense or Myrrh, but he nudged me to use Musk. I sensed he might be looking to draw Love to himself in the unfamiliar space of death, since we use Musk as a love-drawing scent in rootwork. In addition, Musk is also a common incense in Buddhism, so it might have felt more comforting to him as well.
Fourth, I wanted to offer him a white candle and invited my Spirits and Michael himself to guide me as to which herbs to use to dress the candle.
I used a base of Holy Olive Oil, which in rootwork is used for anointing and as a general purpose oil.
For herbs, I felt guided to use an interesting combination of Rose and Pine.
Rose is used in Venusian work in traditional grimoire magic. Interestingly, it is also used for drawing Love in Hoodoo and as a symbol of Divine Love in Rosicrucianism. I used it to help Michael feel loved in his transition and as an expression of my care and appreciation for him.
Pine can be used for a number of reasons. In Hoodoo, it is used for attracting fortune and cleansing. In the context of this working, I hoped it would help cleanse Michael’s consciousness to help his transition and strengthen him spiritually with good fortune in the time to come.
Interestingly, in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1533), Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa also interestingly links Pine-Trees to Saturn (Book I, Chapter XXVI). This seemed appropriate to the Saturnine work of crossing the boundary of life/death, and our mourning for Michael’s sudden passing.
In addition, some traditional witchcraft traditions link Pine to Mars because of the plant’s pointy needles. I hoped this aspect would give Michael some energy and drive to help him with his transition.
Finally, I included two images of the Buddha as Michael would have wanted. Even though I mainly work within a mystical Christian paradigm, I wanted to respect Michael’s wishes and comfort zone.
I opened with a set of prayers within my paradigm, made offerings to God on Michael’s behalf and invited Michael, my Ancestors, Michael’s Ancestors, and the Angels and other spirits of my spiritual court to partake of them for strengthening in the work.
I explained the purpose of the different ingredients to Michael and why I was offering them and how I hoped they would help him. I called on the spirits of Musk, Pine, Olive, Rose, to help in the work according to each of their specialties.
After this section, I saw a small sphere of white light appear near the offerings and streak off towards the right. I wondered if it might be Michael, showing his presence for the work. Or perhaps another spirit who was curious about what I was up to.
At the end of the working, I explained to Michael that Emma would like to invite his children and siblings to his funeral but that we have no contact information for them. I asked, if he wanted them to attend, to please help Emma and I to contact them and made prayers on my side to help with this as well.
Finally, I invited Michael to appear in my dreams tonight if he would like to pass on any final messages to me or Emma, or any other guidance in contacting his family members. With that done, I told Michael the things I appreciated about him, reasons I was proud of him, and told him I would do my best to help give him a Buddhist funeral. I thanked him for the joy of knowing him and wished him all the best, then duly closed the Temple.
C. The Results of the Working: Wondrous Beyond Expectation and Culminating in Healing
The ritual itself left me feeling at peace and with a sense of closure that I did all I could do for Michael to accompany him, not only through his palliative care journey as I did when he was in life, but also, in his transition beyond the grave.
However, what I was most curious to see was how the magical work might dovetail with the practical, mundane work I was doing to accomplish Michael’s last wishes.
As it turned out, the results were nothing short of striking, and the paths through which they came to fruition were equally surprising.
First, although the Buddhist Temple to which I initially referred Emma was unable to assist. Through a series of interesting synchronicities, she was “nudged” towards another Buddhist Temple here in the city with whom she was able to make a beautiful arrangement for Michael. For a reasonable fee, a monk at the Temple agreed to offer Buddhist prayers and incense on Michael’s behalf for 49 days!
Second, as it was Michael’s wish to be able to donate his food and other items to help others, we were able to find an organization that accepted his food items on short notice. This was his wish as part of his dana or charity aspect of his Buddhis practice. Michael had always wanted to help refugees, but never was able too; in death, his remaining food items went on to feed them.
Third, and most striking of all was what took place in regards to his children and siblings. Emma and I did our very best to locate contact information for Michael’s family members, but our efforts were coming up empty. Then, it turned out that a woman at the funeral home with which Emma had been liaising had a contact on the police force, a Sergeant Detective, who specialized in locating missing persons. Normally, this Officer did not assist in cases of people who passed away without contact with their families, preferring to focus on criminal cases. However, in a very unlikely turn of events, she agreed to take on the task of finding Michael’s family members.
Within a span of days, Michael’s siblings in another province were located. His brother took on the task of repatriating his ashes back to his province so that he could be buried in his family’s graveyard after receiving his Buddhist rites, as per his wishes.
Then, the Sergeant found his children, who were living far from the city. They were contacted, brought up to speed on the events that occurred leading up to his passing. They agreed to come to Montreal to visit his apartment, because Emma had found photo albums depicting them as children — despite their being estranged and not having spoken for 20 years, Michael never got rid of these precious photographs.
Finally, through the Sergeant Detective, I was able to pass on to Michael’s adult children the final message he wanted them to hear and never got to tell them: that he loved them, was proud of them, and wished to apologize for all of the mistakes he made as a father. The closure that came from this was beyond what any of us ever expected.
Tears were shed, not only of grieving, but of healing… a healing that came through and beyond the tomb. With his passing, healing passed to his children, and his final wishes were accomplished, his final words for them were expressed after his death, and his transition into the afterlife was completed with the help of our Spiritual Helpers, with Divine Grace, and the help of the Herb spirits enlisted in the task.
Rest in Peace, Michael.
And above all…