Cemeteries: Cities of the Dead
One of the most essential parts of ancestor and spirit work is understanding cemeteries and graveyards. Even if your ancestors didn’t use them, they can still teach you a lot about working spirits of the dead and all the other spirits that reside in them.
Gravestones are a valuable source of information, with inscriptions, floral arrangements, and the type of stone used to construct them all providing essential details. These markers contain a wealth of knowledge that can be used for research and rituals.
Gravestone Symbolism - The Seven Virtues
Virtues: The seven virtues represent traits we find desirable in others and hope to embody ourselves. Most often the virtues are depicted as figures, identifiable by the objects in their possession
Faith is depicted leaning on a cross, holding a candle, or holding a chalice.
Charity tends to have a hand pointing toward her chest or to have her breasts exposed as a sign of maternal nurturing. Other times she is shown carrying food for the poor.
Hope is recognized by the presence of an anchor, ship, or flowers.
Temperance became a very popular symbol during the Prohibition era and can be identified by a water pitcher or sheathed sword.
Justice is one of the most widely recognized virtues because she is always shown holding a scale. She’s not typically found in the cemetery except near the graves of lawyers and judges.
Fortitude is a warrior archetype and can be identified by her hand resting on her hip or a sword or club hanging at her side.
Prudence is the least likely of the virtues to be seen in a cemetery, but if you are lucky enough to come across her, she will either have a snake around her arm or be holding a mirror.
The Book of Ancestors has a massive chapter devoted entirely to cemeteries, with an entire gravestone symbolism dictionary - so don’t forget to buy your copy!