Monday, October 31, 2011

Remembering the Departed

I have to admit, I still am afraid of death despite all the wisdom teachings that tell me I shouldn't be. I think fear of death comes with the survival instinct implanted by Mother Nature herself and it would just be unnatural not to be afraid of it. While not having fear may mean transcending my lowly animalistic self and my attachments to the mundane world, being afraid on the other hand means I am still finding reasons to live in this world despite all its faults, and it also makes me focus on what's really important and "live my life to the full" as the cliché goes.

My fear of death must have its roots from the fear of the unknown. I always say that death does not mean an end but rather a transition from one form to another. But what form comes next after life? The wisest gurus in history and scientists of recent years have given us ideas some of which I have adapted to believe, but deep inside I know that in the end they are all but a product of human experience and do not tell us what really is beyond there.

Samhain altar

Three nights before undas, a beautiful ritual in the style of the Babaylans was led by Pol to honor the dead (umalagad). Food, flowers and dance were offered to the ancestors and the recently parted under the watchful eyes of the diwatas.

I think the ritual actually does more benefit to us, the living, than to the departed. In remembering them, we recall that part of us that has gotten lost when they left this world.

Samhain altar

Pol calls upon the spirits of the land.

Samhain altar
Candles are lit in remembrance of the dead. Names, photos and belongings of the departed are placed on the altar. 

Samhain altar

Samhain altar
Dancing and drumming around the altar.

Samhain altar
Ancestors of the babaylans were also honored during the ritual.

Samhain altar
Papa Legba.

Samhain altar
The feast is shared among the participants after the ritual.

Basbasan Nawa!


filipinorennaisance said...

Hi there, beautiful recreation of the ancient babaylan ritual. I am writing a blog about the connection of Haitian Vodou to ancestral Filipino beliefs and I would like to ask permission to use this blog as reference and a photo to post. I wanted to contact you directly but your contact page seems to be broken. You can find my blog at I hope to hear from you soon.

Ariel (

Murmur said...

Hi Ariel, sorry for the late response, I'm happily giving my permission. Thank you. You have quite an interesting blog! :)

Unknown said...

Is there any way to find a coven or join one?

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