ritual sans religion

Sometime around 4pm, sweating under a blazing sun, I did some gardening, put out the trash and then lit a fire. I have a hollow dug out of the lawn, with rocks from the beach round it. I burned the impepho I’d pulled out, it made very orange flames and very blue smoke. I’d planted it on the advice of a sangoma, who told me (by cellphone) to plant it and tell my mother anything I wanted. So I did and occasionally I’d flick cigarette ash or chuck some coffee grounds. That would have been her top two requests, followed by a cheese sandwich. We had a few weeks of intense summer rain and my poor impepho drowned. Dried, it’s burned inside sometimes, to banish negative things (angry spirits).

The Planet Grief. An incalculable number of light years from the warmth of the sun. When the rain falls, it falls in droplets of grief, and when the light shines, it is in waves and particles of grief. From whatever direction the wind blows–south, east, north or west– it blows cinders of grief before it. Grief stings your eyes and sucks the breath from your lungs. No oxygen on this planet, no nitrogen; the atmosphere is composed entirely of grief. [By the Time You Read This, Giles Blunt]

I don’t want to write about it much tbh. I’ll just tell her now, like I did when they took the body; hamba kahle, mum.


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

14 thoughts on “ritual sans religion”

  1. Thank you for the introduction to a Zulu/South African spiritual practice (for those reading this comment who have not yet looked up your references: impepho is an herb ritually burnt, and sangoma is a traditional healer). I must say, I’m accustomed to you supplying links to content. This time, I did the hunting myself. Hamba kahle (farewell to the dead, again for those who haven’t yet looked it up) to your mother.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. :) aw lovely.

      They mix that up sometimes online, but though a sangoma can heal, they are shamans. Herbalists/healers are called nyanga (which can also mean moon). Hugs for hunting!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My heart is with you. This post is (I believe) a few days old now, but it is raining here which made the statement of the Planet of Grief even more befitting. We all grieve in our own ways, but grief is also a universal emotion. I feel your pain and wish you a hug from a good friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You can tell how excellent a blog is by the comments, and yours is the cream of the crop, my friend. A very moving post about your mother and traditions I was unfamiliar with, and the replies are moving as well….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do have amazing friends out here on the bloggy perimeter (yourself included). And thank fuck I do, I need it. It’s hard for me to write personal stuff like this post – I can barf my own brain out all over the place, but this is different. Thanks for all your kind words and for reading.


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