Monday, March 24, 2014

Postcards from the Underworld: Candles for our Ancestors

In the small village of Metlika, Slovenia 

is a church where my ancestors are buried

my cousin Maja tends to the grave of our great grandparents

and explains the history of the church


scattered around the grave sites are red glass candles


such as these 

In the marketplace of the capital city, Llubljana, vendors sells a colorful array

of the paraffin filled glass bottlelights, which are often used during All Saints and All Souls Days

I learned that these special candles sit by the gravesite and burn for many hours 

so that the departed can find their way home through the darkness

19 comments:

  1. These are the beliefs that help us accept that next stage...
    I'm still holding on to my son's ashes, not sure what I wanted to do with them. Recently, we bought two cemetery plots in Montana where his father's family members are all buried. And that is where his final remains will be, right next to ours. That is the thought that comforts me.

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    1. Rosaria, You are right, these beliefs are there for the living to accept that next stage and in some ways, to make sense of it. The recent decisions you have had to make must be very difficult, and it's a blessing to know that the plans you have chosen bring you comfort.

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  2. The sites are certainly well cared for so they must hold a lot of respect for their loved ones who have passed on. The candles are a lovely addition.

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  3. This was just beautiful, Amanda. And I'm impressed by how much better maintained, generally, (and cleaner) these sites are than most I have seen here in the States in my life. I've never seen a grave desecrated but sometimes there are signs of neglect ...

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    1. Rubye and Suze - This graveyard was meticulously cared for. I hadn't thought about the fact that many graveyards in this country do not receive the same loving care. I wonder if it reflects the fact that Europeans are less itinerant than Americans?

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    2. That is an excellent point.

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  4. That was so poignant and beautiful. We have similar red candles here, except many times they are made of transparent plastic not glass.

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    1. I'd be concerned that plastic might melt!

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  5. Beautiful post. I love the glass candles, and have not seen them before. I always learn something from your posts! x

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  6. Hi Amanda, what a super beautiful post..and not only are the photos spectacular and intriguing to experience....it is also heartfelt and touching....powerful to visit your ancestors!
    Gorgeous pictures!
    Victoria

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    1. Victoria, It was a very powerful experience to visit my ancestors, both those who had gone before and those still living. Slovenia is a stunningly beautiful country but so little known that it remains one of Europe's best kept secrets.

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  7. A beautiful and moving tradition.Something we all need to stay connected to those we love. xox I've been thinking of you recently.The other day I watched a tv special on how satellites are now helping to unearth new sites for excavation.I thought that was so amazing.Yes,I often think of you digging,feeling the earth in your fingers and I say,how totally glorious.xox

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    1. Cat, The program sounds interesting - would love to know the title. Archaeology has taken advantage of a lot of technology in the field. Radar is used to 'see' beneath the surface, we use GPS to grid out sites and computers are used to take data points such as elevations to plot on computer programs. Aircraft are used to photograph sites to see if there are any vegetation anomalies that might show large architectural remains and satellites are an even more powerful way to accomplish that - but expensive - it requires a lot of money or government connections!

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  8. so beautiful, these resting places. the red candles bring me comforting and vibrant reassurance.

    i wish our cemeteries looked more like these. there is no doubt life after life and these photos confirm it.

    such love. thanks, amanda. i love this post.

    love
    kj

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  9. How wonderful to find your ancestors at such a gorgeous historical site, full of tradition. The church's bell tower reminds me of a candle too.

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  10. Interesting, and are those kiosks there all year round or just for the saints days?

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    1. By chance, we happened to be visiting during All Saint's and All Soul's days, so I don't know if the candles are sold all year round~

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