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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Lee

Ancestor's Day & the Fairy Queen

We've almost reached the 5th Solar Term of the Ox Year, Qing Ming (Clear Bright), coming up on Sunday! It's a Chinese holiday, formerly translated as "Tomb Sweeping Day", but contemporized in the modern era to Ancestor Day. Huge travel occurs this time of year in China as people return to the family plot and bring offerings, burn paper money (you need that in heaven), light incense and have a good chat with both deceased and living family.

Our tradition was never so ritualized. It was just common when visiting my grandmother to also visit my grandfather by taking a beautiful drive to his grave. Once we arrived there, we usually cleaned up the debris a little. A photo ended the trip, with all of us and the tombstone, so Gung Gung could be included in the shot. Of course, there would be a meal afterwards, revisiting happy memories.

In my own experience, the veil between the living and dead is less apparent. This occurs in many other cultures as well. Conversations with loved ones who have passed on still continues. Sometimes I want to write my Mother a postcard, until I remember that she is dead. It's nice to have a festival where you can burn all the postcards you wanted to send to your mother, so she can receive them in the invisible planes.

For the Oracle Deck this week, we have the 3rd card of the Major Arcana, traditionally the Empress card. Fairies in the Chinese tradition usually govern a particular area, a spring or grove, or perhaps a particular flower cluster. Sometimes referred to as Elementals, as the essence of the plant is infused with the spirit of the fairy.

Interestingly, this is similar to the Celtic tradition, where spirits guard various sacred spaces. There is a current wave of thought that modern technology has made it uncomfortable for fairy life on the planet, and thus humans miss out of the rich magic that accompanied natural forces.

The Pig accompanies the Fairy Queen. The Pig (or Boar) is the last of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac to greet the Buddha before his Ascension to Nirvana. The delightful pig got sidetracked with a feast and a nap. Always rich in enjoying the good things life has to offer, the Pig celebrates the treasures of the world and is heralded for bringing wealth and prosperity during its year.

It's interesting to think of this card with the Qing Ming festival, as it reminds us to enjoy life of the physical world and cherish time with loved ones in precious ways.

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