My Pagan Grandma

Having just returned home from my grandmother’s funeral (which finally gave me the much-needed, and quite palpable, sense of closure I’ve been seeking for weeks), I think it’s time to start regularly blogging again.  Before I can write about anything else, though, I have to get this off my chest.  While it seems odd and unusually personal to talk about the eulogy, I need to say what I didn’t say to the rest of the family . . .

My mother and I decided to write and deliver the eulogy together, which was especially fitting since the three of us were/are so close. (A side note: my mother, grandmother and I share(d) the exact same pair of green-grey hazel eyes, with flecks of gold and blue and brown.  Chameleon eyes that change color based upon whatever we wear.  I remember the three of us once stood in front of a mirror, marveling at the fact that our eyes were completely identical, down to even the tiniest fleck of gold.  We joked about being an alternative version of The Maiden (The Youth?), The Mother, and The Crone, and eventually decided we were either the Three Graces or the Three Furies, depending upon our mood . . . and we all certainly know how to effectively lay a curse . . . but I digress.)

Anyway, when I was first writing the eulogy, I was struggling with the fact that there would be a combination of numerous fundamentalist evangelical types as well as several rather vocal atheists attending my grandmother’s funeral.  I didn’t particularly want to offend anyone (in any other context, I wouldn’t give a fuck, but I know the last thing my grandmother would have wanted would be a conflict between family members at her memorial).  I also didn’t want to make the eulogy all about me, which was especially difficult since so many of the things my grandmother and I shared were unique to us.  But with my mother’s (and my wonderful husband’s) help, I think we successfully walked the tightrope in our ability to both pay tribute to that amazing woman, as well as highlighting (or alluding to) aspects of her life that weren’t necessarily widely known.  I mentioned the Gods, I mentioned the myths, and I even re-told one of Grandma’s favorite myths – the story of Baucis and Philemon, those two generous souls loved by the Gods, two souls and two trees forever entwined.

Because the fact is, Grandma was a pagan.  She loved ancient Greece, the Greek myths, and the Greek Gods.  We talked about this subject constantly, from my earliest childhood memories to the last conversation we had a month before her death.  She visited Greece with her beloved sister, saw the temples of the Gods (including Delphi), and years later she and I poured libations of wine together over her sister’s grave.  We spoke in detail about what I would do to help her soul cross over to the Western Lands, and this conversation involved the Orphic gold tablets, Plato’s Phaedrus, and Hermes the Guide of Souls.  She was a deeply spiritual (one might even say mystical) person, and she had no interest whatsoever in contemporary monotheistic faiths.  And while I naturally didn’t broadcast this at her funeral, my Grandma did NOT like Xtianity (or for that matter, the vast majority of fundamentalist Xtians).  Much of this was for political reasons, but she also didn’t like churches, and she had a particularly strong dislike of the Xtian Bible.  I will never forget one day (over a Tarot reading I was giving her, by the way) when the topic of the Bible came up and she said to me (these are her own words):  “I tried to read that book once.  It was obviously written by humans, and it was terribly written.  I couldn’t understand most of it, and what I could understand I didn’t agree with.  What a horrible book!  You could use it to justify just about anything. And those crazy people who follow it are some of the most hateful, judgmental, ignorant, and downright violent people in history!  They read that book, they ‘get religion,’ and they turn into monsters!  They destroyed our culture [ancient Greece], and they’d love to destroy this one.  It’s just horrible . . . if those people ever take over here we’re moving back to Greece!”

That was my Grandma.  I’ve written elsewhere about her impact on my life, and there’s so much more I could say (and probably will say), but for now it’s time to turn the page.

Perhaps the best part (and by far the most surprising part) of the whole funeral experience is that two of my relatives read between the lines of what my mom and I were saying during the eulogy, and afterwards came out to me as being pagan themselves!  I thought my mom, my husband, and I were the only ones left in this family, and yet there they were. And we connected.  We compared notes on our particular pagan paths, and I was able to tell them much more about what Grandma actually believed (and in the future I eventually hope to share with them the great bulk of pagan, mythical, and supernatural family lore I’ve collected over the years).  I would never have guessed in a million years that there were other living pagans in my family, but I do know my pagan Grandma would be proud of us all, proud that we are continuing the Old Ways.

Grandma, I am now speaking directly to you:  May our souls forever be connected. May our shared love for the Greek myths and the Greek Gods be remembered. What is remembered, lives.

Leave a comment


  1. brian

     /  August 10, 2012

    firstly, its terrible you lost your grandmother, but we both know shes in a better place and had a good and successful crossing, secondly im happy to hear there will be more of these because ive learned much here.

    • Thanks – I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to posting regularly. I’m also finally going to have time to start doing book reviews (yours included!), so those will start to appear soon. Glad you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written here!

  2. I’m glad you were able to find a way to be true to yourself and her without upsetting the rest of the family. From your writing I can tell she was an amazing woman.

  3. I wish that all grandmothers could be that cool in those specific ways…Alas, with all of their wonderful qualities, none of my various grandmothers (or grandfathers) had a jot in that particular category in comparison to your grandmother.

    May her memory be long upon the earth!

  4. Everything you share about her shows she was a truly exceptional woman.


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