May you be remembered

For the plants:

Wikstroemia skottsbergiana, aka Skottsberg’s Wikstroemia. Its only known locations were in Hanalei and Kauhao Valleys on Kauai.

Chrysophyllum januariense, a tree of lowland coastal rainforest; collected only from Laranjeiras Forest, Rio de Janeiro, it can no longer be found there.

Viola cryana, aka Pensée de Cry, Violette de Cry. It was endemic to the Bourgogne Yonne Departement, France, where it was detected in 1860 along the Canal de Bourgogne, in the community of Cry. This herb was found on limestone hills facing southwards and exposed to the sun. Over-collection by botanists as well as limestone quarrying contributed to its disappearance around 1930; its last finding dates to 1927.

Crudia zeylanica, a large tree of the wet lowlands in Sri Lanka.

Encephalartos nubimontanus, Blue Cycad, which used to occur in the Drakensberg in the Limpopo province, South Africa. Plants were found along the mountain range to the north and east of Penge at an altitude of 1,000 m. Originally estimated to be 50-100 mature individuals, the known subpopulations were extirpated by collectors. The blue cycad lived in low open deciduous woodland on cliff faces and in direct sunlight

Vanvoorstia bennettiana, Bennett’s Seaweed. A red alga from New South Wales, Australia. Collected twice, in 1855 and 1886, from sites that have since been heavily dredged and disturbed, with no sightings despite searches in the late 20th century.

Stenocarpus dumbeensis, from New Caledonia, not seen since 1905.

May you be remembered.

For the fish:

Fundulus albolineatus, Whiteline Topminnow, known only from Spring Creek (Big Spring), Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama. It has not been detected for more than a century, despite many attempts to find it. The sole known location where it lived has been highly altered.

Rhizosomichthys totae, a species of catfish known only from the Lake Tota basin, Colombia.

Alburnus akili, Beyşehir Bleak, which declined after the introduction of Pikeperch into Lake Beysehir, Central Anatolia, Turkey, in 1955. Overfishing also contributed to its extinction.

Prototroctes oxyrhynchus, New Zealand Grayling. It was abundant at the time of European settlement in the 1860s, but population decline was noted by the late 1870s. The disappearance of the fish from the Waikato River was noted in 1874, and by 1900 the species was apparently rare. Extinction of the New Zealand Grayling was possibly due to a combination of the effects of introduced trout and the deterioration of the freshwater habitat through the clearance of forest cover resulting in increased light penetration and raised water temperature. New Zealand grayling was an amphidromous species, inhabiting freshwater, brackish and marine environments. Spawning apparently occurred in freshwater streams and hatched larvae made their way downstream to the sea where they remained until maturity and returned to freshwater spawning areas.

Salmo pallaryi, from the salmon family, disappeared in the late 1930s, probably due to the introduction of common carp. It was restricted to Lake Sidi Ali, located at 2,230 m in the Atlas mountains in northern Morocco.

Coregonus restrictus, a whitefish in the salmon family. It lived in Switzerland’s Lake Morat. Lost due to eutrophication, which happened before the 1950s, and last recorded in 1890.

May you be remembered.

For the amphibians:

Plethodon ainsworthi, Ainsworth’s Salamander, known only from two specimens that were collected on 12 June 1964, two miles south of Bay Springs, Jasper County, Mississippi.

Pseudophilautus maia, a frog from Sri Lanka. It has not been recorded for over 100 years, and extensive searches over the last ten years have failed to locate this species. Clearance of the cloud forest adjacent to Frotoft Estate in 1978 might have lead to the frog’s extinction.

Phrynomedusa fimbriata, spiny-knee leaf frog, has not been recorded for over 80 years, and extensive searches have failed to locate this species. It was only known from “Alto da Serra”, Paranapiacaba, Santo Andre, in the State of Sao Paulo, south-eastern Brazil. The spiny-knee leaf frog was collected at an elevation of around 1,000 m.

Rheobatrachus vitellinus, the Eungella Gastric-brooding Frog, aka Northern Gastric Brooding Frog. It was found exclusively in undisturbed rainforest in Eungella National Park, mid-eastern Queensland, Australia, at altitudes of 400-1,000m. The Eungella Gastric-brooding Frog was considered common across its range until January 1985 when the first signs of decline were observed at lower altitudes. It has not been recorded since that year. The disease chytridiomycosis is suspected as the cause of extinction. It was an aquatic species largely restricted to the shallow section of fast-flowing creeks and streams in rainforest. It is one of only two known species – the other also Australian, and also extinct – to brood its offspring within its stomach. Females deposited their eggs, and then swallowed them. While in the stomach, tadpoles excreted some form of enzyme that inhibited the female’s gastric digestion, and then proceded to develop into fully formed froglets. The froglets were then regurgitated through the female’s mouth.

May you be remembered.

For the reptiles:

Leiocephalus eremitus, Navassa curly-tailed lizard, from Navassa Island in the Caribbean. It has not been recorded since 1900.

Tetradactylus eastwoodae, aka Eastwood’s Longtailed Seps, Eastwood’s Whip Lizard. Known only from a location near Woodbush, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Lost due to alien pine species in its known habitat and excessive burning of the montane grasslands.

Hoplodactylus delcourti, a gecko known only from New Zealand, this gecko is thought to have become extinct around the mid-nineteenth century.

May you be remembered

For the mammals:

Neovison macrodon, aka Sea Mink, which formerly occurred along the coasts of Canada in New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and in coastal eastern North America (Massachusetts, Maine). The Sea Mink was last recorded in 1894.

Hippotragus leucophaeus, Bluebuck. This South African antelope was restricted to the southern coastal areas from about Caledon to Plettenberg Bay. The last individual Bluebuck was shot around 1800, the first African antelope to be hunted to extinction by European settlers.

Juscelinomys candango, aka Candango Mouse, which has not been recorded since 1960. The entire region surrounding its known habitat in Brasila has been converted from native habitats to an urban center with extensive ongoing suburban sprawl.

Prolagus sardus, aka Sardinian Pika, was last seen in 1774. It is speculated that “habitat loss, predation, and competition with alien invasive species” were responsible for its extinction. The Sardinian Pika occupied Corsica, Sardinia, and small adjacent islands of the Mediterranean.

Gazella bilkis, the Queen of Sheba’s Gazelle or Yemen Gazelle. It lived in Wadi Maleh, Usaifira, and Jabal Zarba in Yemen. It was “very common” in 1951, and observed in small groups of 1-3 on euphorbia-covered hillsides at altitudes of 1,230 – 2,150 m.

Thylacinus cynocephalus, aka Thylacine, Tasmanian Tiger, Tasmanian Wolf. It was endemic to Australia and Tasmania. Mainland populations are thought to have disappeared following the introduction of domestic dogs by Aboriginal human populations several thousand years ago. This restricted the Thylacine to the island of Tasmania. There, it was regarded as a threat to sheep and was hunted, trapped, and poisoned both for private and government bounties. In addition to these hunting pressures, habitat modification, increased competition from domestic dogs and disease may have all contributed to the demise of the Thylacine.

Perameles eremiana, the Desert Bandicoot of Australia. Its population decline was probably due to introduced predators (cats and foxes). Changes to the fire regime have also been blamed for the Bandicoot’s losses in inland arid areas of Australia – the gradual patchwork burning by aboriginal people was replaced by intensive “lightning-caused” wildfires which destroyed habitat diversity. Rabbits also likely had a major impact on its habitat. It was associated with spinifex grassland areas in arid, sandy areas.

Pteropus tokudae, aka Guam Flying Fox, Guam Fruit Bat. It has not been recorded with certainty since 1968, and intensive surveys of fruit bats on Guam in intervening years have failed to locate it. The Guam Fruit Bat was hunted locally as a food source, and this is thought to have been the main factor leading to the demise of the species. The introduction of the predatory Brown Tree Snake to Guam possibly contributed to the extinction.

May you be remembered.

For the birds:

Zapornia sandwichensis, the Hawaiian Rail or Hawaiian Crake, which was found in the Hawaiian Islands, but has been driven extinct by the depredations of introduced cats. The last record of the Hawaiian Rail dates from 1884.

Ectopistes migratorius, the passenger pigeon. It was found in forests in eastern and central Canada and the United States, occasionally wandering south to Mexico and Cuba. Over the 19th century, the passenger pigeon crashed from being one of the most abundant birds in the world to extinction. The last wild bird was shot in 1900, and the last captive bird, known as Martha, died in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo. The precise cause of its extinction is difficult to determine, but the widespread clearance of the hardwood trees which provided its food, and the proliferation of the rail network and telegraph system which enabled efficient location of nesting colonies and the transport of young birds to market are probably the two single most important factors. Other important factors were excessive shooting, Newcastle disease, and towards the last of their years, the breakdown of social facilitation. The passenger pigeon exploited seasonally available crops of beechmast, acorns and chestnuts; scouting for food sources and information sharing was likely to have required flocks of a certain critical size, below which survival would be compromised. Birds nested in April or May in vast colonies typically 16 by 5 km in size.

Campephilus principalis, the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Presumed extinct, there have been no definitive sightings since the 1940s. Logging and clearance for agriculture are responsible for the dramatic decline in numbers and range. It was originally found in both bottomland hardwood and montane forests in the United States and Cuba. The ivory-billed woodpecker foraged by stripping bark from dead trees, using its bill like a carpenter’s chisel to find beetle larvae. It also ate fruit, nuts and seeds.

Numenius borealis, Eskimo curlew. Formerly abundant, it bred at the Bathurst peninsula and Point Lake in Northwest Territories, Canada, and perhaps also Alaska. Large-scale spring hunting in North America partially explains the curlew’s near-extinction, but there was no recovery after hunting was outlawed and abandoned in 1916. The main cause is almost certainly the near total loss of prairies to agriculture, compounded by the suppression of prairie wildfires and the extinction of the Rocky Mountain grasshopper, Melanoplus spretus, which was a key food source. It bred May-August in treeless arctic tundra at 180-335 m, comprising grassy meadows with birch and sedge. The Eskimo curlew was gregarious, with traditional autumn migration sites where it favoured ericaceous heath, crowberries, pastures and intertidal flats. Winter habitat was possibly wet pampas grasslands, intertidal and semi-desert areas. On return migration, this bird favoured burnt areas in tall grass and mixed-grass prairies.

Podiceps andinus, Colombian Grebe. This bird was only known from Lake Tota, Colombia. It was last recorded in 1977 and is now extinct as a result of human-induced changes to the lake, with intensive searches in 1981 failing to find it. The grebe was still abundant on Lake Tota in 1945, but numbers crashed in the 1950s. It was restricted to the Bogotá wetlands at 2,600 m in the Eastern Andes of Colombia.

Haematopus meadewaldoi, aka Canarian Oystercatcher, Canarian Black Oystercatcher, was endemic to Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and their offshore islets in the Canary Islands. It was locally reported to have become extinct by the 1940s, probably a result of overharvesting of intertidal invertebrates and disturbance by people, although predation by rats and cats has also been implicated. This oystercatcher inhabited the coastal zone where it foraged for invertebrates.

Anas marecula, the Amsterdam Duck, Amsterdam Island Duck, endemic to Amsterdam Island, French Southern Territories, Antarctica. It is only known from bones “no more than a few hundred years old”. A report of “a small brown duck, not much larger than a thrush” from Barrow’s 1793 visit to the neighboring St Paul Island presumably refers to the same or a similar species. It is thought to have become extinct soon after the last report in 1793.

Columba versicolor, the Bonin Woodpigeon, endemic to Nakondo Shima and Peel Island in the Bonin Islands, Japan. It was last recorded in 1889. Habitat clearance is likely to have been the major factor, as well as predation by introduced cats and rats.

Tachybaptus rufolavatus, aka Alaotra Grebe, Delacour’s Little Grebe, Alaotra Dabchick, Madagascar Red-necked Grebe, from Madagascar. Known chiefly from Lake Alaotra, use of monofilament nylon gill-nets and introduction of the carnivorous fish species were major factors in the grebe’s decline and extinction. Soil erosion from deforested hillsides, agriculture and sedimentation also played a role, and introductions of exotic plants, mammals and fish, especially Tilapia, probably depleted essential foods for the grebe, and natural habitat was lost through the conversion of marsh areas to rice farms . Hybridisation with another grebe species occurred in the past and may have been the major contributing factor in the Alaotra grebe’s decline. Poaching affected it as well. The grebe was presumed to be strongly sedentary since its small wings rendered it unable to fly long distances. It fed almost exclusively on fish.

Gerygone insularis, the Lord Howe Gerygone, Lord Howe Island Gerygone, a songbird. Once was an abundant endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia, until the island was colonised by rats from a shipwreck in 1918. It was heard frequently in 1928 but could not be found on a visit in 1936. It was a canopy-dwelling forest bird, feeding on small insects and spiders.

Pomarea nukuhivae, Nuku Hiva Monarch, once endemic to the island of Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia, now driven extinct by habitat changes and introduced predators. The last records date from the 1930s. All the Marquesas Islands have been devastated by intense grazing and fire, and much of the original dry forest has been reduced to grassland, and upland forest to relict forest patches. Introduced species are also likely to have played a role in the Nuku Hiva Monarch’s demise, especially black rats. This mainly insectivorous bird occurred in forested valleys at high elevations and in degraded forest at all altitudes (probably originally preferring lowland forests which are now destroyed).

Pinguinus impennis, Great Auk, once distributed across the north Atlantic. The last live bird was seen in 1852. It was driven to extinction by hunting for its feathers, meat, fat and oil, and then, as birds became more scarce, specimen collecting became the proximate cause of their extinction. It occurred in naturally scattered colonies across the North Atlantic until the 19th century, breeding from Canada through Greenland (to Denmark), the Faeroe Islands (to Denmark) and Iceland to Ireland and the UK, with archeological records from the western coast of Europe from European Russia south to France. It wintered offshore south to New England and southern Spain.

Aphanapteryx bonasia, aka Red Rail, from the island of Mauritius. It went extinct around 1693 due to cat predation and hunting.

May you be remembered.

For the arthropods:

Procambarus angustatus, the Sandhills Crayfish. It was known only from streams in the Sand Hills of southern Georgia.

Rhantus orbignyi, a beetle, from Argentina and Brazil.

Hydropsyche tobiasi, Tobias’ Caddisfly, was endemic to Germany and known only from eight sites along the Rhine and Main rivers; it has not been recorded since 1938. The Rhine and Main rivers were heavily polluted during the 20th century and almost all Trichoptera species became extinct there. Many caddis species have recovered since, but Hydropsyche tobiasi was not found despite intensive searching in 1979 and in 2003-2004.

Pseudobactricia ridleyi, Ridley’s Stick Insect. It is known from just one specimen collected in Singapore more than 100 years ago. Almost all natural forest in Singapore has since been cleared.

Hirstienus nanus, a species in the harvestman family. It was endemic to the Seychelles island of Mahe. Habitats that this harvestman probably occurred in are deteriorating due to the effects of invasive plant species.

Mecodema punctellum, a large, flightless, black ground beetle, known only from Stephens Island, New Zealand. Habitat unknown, though it possibly sheltered under large logs. No large logs are left on Stephen’s Island, so habitat loss possibly led to the extinction of this beetle.

May you be remembered.

For the molluscs, worms, and other invertebrates:

Stagnicola pilsbryi, aka Fish Springs Marshsnail, known from Fish Spring, Juab County, Utah. Believed extinct due to slash and burn activities in 1970 and the diversion and drainage of the spring in which it was found.

Megalobulimus cardosoi, a land snail from Brazil.

Belgrandiella intermedia, a freshwater snail from Austria.

Vitrinula chichijimana, a land snail from Japan.

Bythinella microcochlia, a mud snail, known only from Oued Melah near Oudref in Tunisia and recorded in the 19th century.

Tornelasmias capricorni, a minute land snail from Australia.

Mautodontha saintjohni, a small land snail from French Polynesia.

May you be remembered.

For all those unknown to us and unnamed:

May your loss be mourned.

Description of the ritual

The above was the primary spoken part of the ritual last night.

I began by hailing the Elements, as my (our) oldest Ancestors, from Whom all life originated, and then thanked Them:

Thank You, Air, for Your role in weather systems and for gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide, upon which so much of life depends.

Thank You, Fire, for Your role in cleansing the land to make way for new life, and for Your movement and creation of the land.

Thank You, Earth, for the substrate terrestrial life roots itself in and walks, crawls, and slithers upon, and for forming the basins for the waterways.

Thank You, Water, for carrying the first life within You, and for sustaining us by Your life within us.

I then hailed Hela; the following is the written text I had, though I spoke a few other words I no longer recall:

Hail Hela, great goddess of the Dead.

Thank You for Your compassion, for taking in all those whose time here has ended, and providing a place of rest.

Then I read off my opening (which I drafted up the night before, along with the rest of the formal prayers and stuff):

It is the time of year when many people honor and remember their Dead. I am here to remember some members of my very far extended family who have passed permanently on: those plants and animals who are, as a species, extinct.

There are so terribly many who, in the last 200-300 years, have been driven to extinction by the actions of my own species, most often through hunting, habitat destruction, and introduction of new predators.

The names I speak tonight are only a small fraction of the total lost, barely enough to represent the extent of the losses, that all categories of animals and plants have been affected, that there are losses from every continent and cluster of islands.

Then I read the list. I had a candle lit for each group, and a separate sheet (or 2) printed off. After reading the names, I tucked the paper under the stone slab the candles were on, and said, “May you be remembered” – though when I got to the 9th candle, for all those unknown to us and thus unnamed, I could not speak that. I hadn’t prepared any words for that; the 9th candle was a somewhat late addition to my plans. I don’t recall what I did say.

There were, in fact, 10 candles. When I bought tea lights last night, I counted 9 into my bag, and then thought, “I think I need 1 more. I’m not sure for what, but it feels like I need it, and if not, well, eventually I’ll use it.”

The 10th candle was for Remembrance.

The morning after the ritual, before cleaning up and the final work I hadn't planned.

The morning after the ritual, before cleaning up and the final work I hadn’t planned.

I used a coffee table for the altar. In its usual place in the room, it is close to the Elements’ altar, which is a small end table, the surface of which is a good bit higher than the coffee table. There isn’t much space between them, and at first I thought to move the coffee table farther back, to create a sort of L-shaped space, so that I would be framed by the Elements and by the Extinct – but then I realized that having the Elements there, They were sort of overlooking the other altar, and that, in Their role as Ancestors, having Them positioned this way felt really appropriate.

Before the ritual, I put offerings of water, bread, honey, and fruit (an apple) on the Extinct altar, and offerings of bread on the Elements’ and Hela’s altars.

I knelt before the altar while speaking, both because it is close to the ground and because kneeling felt right – I choked up and cried a lot during all the speaking, though I kept it largely under control so I could get through it, and then cried plenty more afterwards. (I forgot to get a couple handkerchiefs beforehand. I regretted that mistake.) I said some other words at some point, but that’s all gone fuzzy now.

At some point, I sensed a lot of attention directed my way, though I’d be hard-pressed now to describe what was conveyed, or anything specific about who all was reaching out to me. When I had recovered a bit and sat back up, I immediately was looking at the array of 10 candles, right at eye level as I was in the process of sitting up – and while I definitely only saw candles, I also saw/felt like I was being looked at, by many, many eyes. It was incredibly overwhelming.

After a while, it felt like things needed to be formally closed in some way, like Whoever was present had said goodbye and moved on, and I needed to do something. I thanked the Elements and Hela again, and blew out the relevant flames.

I did not want to blow out the candles on the primary altar. I sat with them a while, and then got up, blew my nose and washed my face, and had something to eat. I spent more time sitting in front of the altar, watching the candles burn, arguing with myself over the merits of sitting vigil vs. the merits of getting to sleep before it got even later. Several times after closing the ritual, I thought Loki was encouraging me to blow them out and go to bed (it was past 11 when I started, past my usual bedtime, and getting on to 1:30 by the time I’d eaten), but I brushed it off because I knew I wanted permission to do that, so was that Him or me talking to myself – but always, blowing the candles out just seemed wrong, even if “human extinguishing signs of life” was the pattern under discussion.

Then I looked at the wax remaining in the tea lights’ containers, and I saw a completely different symbolism there, something akin to closing Pandora’s box.

I blew out the 9 candles, saying with each one, “May it be long before your surviving kin join you.” And last, blew out the Remembrance candle.

Then I did some personal clean-up and went to bed.

This morning, I cleared away the offerings from the main altar. I hadn’t thought about what to do with the candles or the papers, but then it occurred to me to wrap each group of three candles in their respective papers, tie them, and seal the knot with wax. I wanted to seal each one with wax from the Remembrance candle, but it was close to done, and I didn’t let it melt enough before trying, so then it was about to burn itself out without the wax all melting . . . so I ended up using a different beeswax candle (though I lit it from the Remembrance candle, so, good enough). Later I put the bundles, and the last candle, into a shoebox. They may someday need a different container.

The water I added to a bucket by my sink, which I later poured out on several plants in the yard in a sequence that felt appropriate. The apple went under one of the plants, too; a large flowering shrub I’ve spoken with in the past, who seems to have more presence or influence or something in the yard than other plants (including the trees). Bread went to the compost, and the honey plate just went right into the sink.

The only parts I scripted were the spoken parts; I did a lot of this (obviously) only when it occurred to me that there was something to be done. Some of my prep work also went this way – I have not done a lot of ritual work, or closely paid attention to what you are supposed to do. A lot of the rituals I’ve done have been closely guided by Whoever I was doing the ritual for – in this case, though, Loki gave me guidance.

Before I put out the offerings, I went to the bedroom altar, stripped down to my socks (hey, my feet get too cold this time of year otherwise, but the rest of me needed to be bared), and asperged as He’d told me. That was the word, I went, “WTF? Do what?” and then a quick web search told me WTF. I used tap water, and flicked my fingers at myself until I felt I’d covered most regions of my body. It felt surprisingly good. This was followed by waving a stick of incense around myself. Then I dressed in my clothing for the ritual – long black skirt, black blouse. I had a black scarf I was going to cover my head with, but it didn’t feel right to put it on while laying out offerings, so I left it on a chair. And there it stayed for the evening. I forgot all about it until I was well into the ritual. Oh well.

At some point during the preparations, I also prayed to Him to protect me, to keep all who entered from harm, and to give me strength to get through it. Afterwards, getting ready for bed, I thanked Him for all that – and probably some other things, it was /late/ and I was not really with it at that point. I also repeated the “wave the incense around” step as a post-ritual step. I’ve learned over the last year that, if I do something energetically intense, showing or bathing, and using salt during that, is essential if I want to not feel like crap the next day, but as I had plans to shower early this morning, and I didn’t feel up to showering at 2 in the fucking morning, I didn’t do that. I think that was okay; I actually don’t feel too terrible today, and the incense was the only thing I felt I was being directed to do.

By the time I was ready for bed, I could tell I was in rough shape – I was shivering and my teeth were chattering. I wasn’t sure how much of that was due to the ritual, and how much was due to: emotional exhaustion from crying, from the heat being off and the house being too cold, or from it being 2 in the morning and my body just being “nope” about being forced into activity at that hour (I’ve gotten the shakes being up too late in the past). I think some of it was due to the ritual, given what else happened.

Another of my spirit allies spoke to me after the main ritual ended, offering some comfort and support (I think he may actually have been present earlier, just not making his presence known). Later, after some prompting from Loki to reach out to this ally again, the two of Them did – I don’t know. Some . . . spirit thing. Some kind of “healing” I believe; something with some part of my energy body. (No one ever really explains what They are up to, it’s just “lie here” and “healing” and weird imagery and – okay. Thanks.) It wasn’t until after They did whatever that I stopped shaking completely, though getting into my pajamas had already helped some.

I’m glad I did it. Things went very well, though when I started, the apartment was completely dark, and I banged into the Elements’ altar and upset several things – when I struck a match, I could see the oil lamp had tipped over, but fortunately very little spilled. (It took too long, and too many matches, to light – I’d put a new wick in recently, and hadn’t burnt it at all yet. UGH. AWKWARD DELAY.) Other than that and forgetting a couple minor things, it felt pretty smooth.

I’ve gotten used to rituals working under situations where I have a general outline or sense of purpose, but the details will get filled in as I go, though there were a lot of things that happened that I hadn’t given any previous thought to, and it was quite unexpected how neatly everything sorted out. I’d laid out the altar more with a sense of aesthetics and balance in mind, but it worked so well for functional and symbolic and other reasons: the stone slabs were first meant to hold the candles, but they were perfect for keeping the papers in place. And bundling everything up later on . . . I don’t know if I got some subtle divine inspiration for that, or whether some part of me is just that creatively clever. Could be a little of both! Sometimes ritual work, or other spirit work, feels so much like the art/craft work I’ve done in the past, that unless I get a really clear sense that some spirit present is definitely telling me “do this,” I cannot tell. All I know is, I didn’t plan it all out, but it worked out so pleasingly regardless. I feel like I honored the Dead well, and the actions all fit into my desires to mourn them and to help them be remembered.

A little more background, and sources

I got almost all the text on the different plants and animals from the IUCN’s Red List; there’s a search tool I made heavy use of, and I only edited the descriptions from the IUCN slightly for use here. I supplemented it with Wikipedia and one or two other web searches, but only if there was no common name listed by the IUCN, or if I didn’t know the scientific taxonomy enough to know what it meant in English (“a whitefish”). (And in this way, I found that a planarian I had on my list was not extinct after all; the Red List didn’t have the update, but Wikipedia did.)

My method was to pick a location (I went by continent) and a taxonomy, and then . . . pick one of the species that came up. Some combinations gave me no results, which is why there are fewer reptiles than birds. Birds are also slightly overrepresented because most of the names people wanted specifically remembered were birds. My thanks to those who submitted names; I am glad to have had you with me in this.

The snails upset me a surprising amount. There are so many species of extinct snails. So many. If I picked a random name off any search list that was all invertebrates (but no arthropods), it was a mollusc, almost always a snail. I suppose it isn’t surprising: they aren’t terribly mobile, so if a species evolves that is really closely tied to one particular small ecosystem, and that ecosystem gets heavily altered, well, goodbye snail. And we have so little about what they were like.

But snails don’t seem to get much press when the topic of extinctions comes up, so the sheer number of vanished snails caught me by surprise.


The rune I’ve been studying recently is Ear, a rune about death and endings and moving on from old things. Funny coincidence.

I pulled it this morning when I did my daily rune and card pulls; in combination with the cards, I feel like I am now being moved on to something new. Some new stage to focus on.

I went on a cleaning binge after lunch.


About Fjothr Lokakvan

More or less Northern Tradition polytheist.
This entry was posted in Animism, Land and Land Spirits, Rituals and Celebrations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to May you be remembered

  1. gracklelover says:

    What a beautiful ritual. Thank you for sharing.

    “The snails upset me a surprising amount. There are so many species of extinct snails. So many. If I picked a random name off any search list that was all invertebrates (but no arthropods), it was a mollusc, almost always a snail. I suppose it isn’t surprising: they aren’t terribly mobile, so if a species evolves that is really closely tied to one particular small ecosystem, and that ecosystem gets heavily altered, well, goodbye snail. And we have so little about what they were like.”

    The thing about snails is that they are so poorly understood and they get little attention from scientists. Who knows how many snails are still undiscovered or how many disappeared before being documented.

    The same is true of fungi. For example, scientists estimate that only half of the fungi species have been discovered in my state.

    • Thank you.

      Yeah, it’s sad how much we /don’t/ know about that’s out there – or vanished. Since I was limited on time, I didn’t look much beyond the IUCN’s list, but I found 0 listings for extinct fungi. There must be some, especially since plants often have symbiotic relationships with fungi, and there are numerous known extinct plants, not to mention unique species in particular ecosystems that have been heavily altered . . . but a lot of fungi aren’t readily obvious to us.

  2. Lupa says:

    This is gorgeous, if bittersweet. it reminds me a bit of the Altars of Extinction ritual that Mary Gomes put together years ago.

    • Thank you.

      I have vague memories of having read about the Altars of Extinction, or something very similar, quite a while ago. That, and more recently reading about the Life Cairns project, and other related things elsewhere, were pretty major parts of what prompted me to do this.

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