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Appeasing the Dead by Clare Gould
 

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  • Happy Lemuria! It's the 9th of May. An odd, slantways number poetically falling slant-ways off the back of the middle of the week this year. It's only the first day, so you've plenty of time to join the festivities. There are two more days to go - the 11th and the 13th - slantways crooked odd numbers for celebrating the things that come out of slantways crooked cracks.

    Lemuria was an Ancient Roman Festival - a way of appeasing the dead, known to be terribly vengeful if angered. Each family had to placate their bickering family shades by dropping, a nice touch this, a pea or bean for every soul in the household around the walls of their house. It was hoped that the ghosts would accept these in lieu, a kind of ancient swaps deal for those inside the walls. The boundary would be walked at night and the ceremony ended with the clashing of copper bowls within the house.

    This was an insurance policy. The sun might be beating down in the streets of Rome, and the pastures bursting into flower but it always pays to hedge your bets against a difficult winter.

    I forgot to plant my peas this spring. Maybe I'll walk the bounds myself tonight and exorcise a few ghosts. Drop my seeds, clash my copper bowl and see what takes in the soil.
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