Pagan Journeys

Pagan Journeys => Paths and Traditions => Topic started by: FairyQueen on June 07, 2012, 10:46:32 PM

Title: Death Traditions?
Post by: FairyQueen on June 07, 2012, 10:46:32 PM
Not necessarily a preferred topic of discussion, but I think a necessary one overall.

In my lifespan psychology class today we discussed the final stage, death and dying. One of the topics of learning was how religious involvement removes some of the death anxiety people feel and also helps in the grief by having set traditions to deal with death and the grieving process (example being Shiva in Judaism).

This made me start thinking about Pagan death traditions - I got discouraged when I realized I didn't know any. I found some literature ( ( but it seems to be very specific to Wicca and even then I cannot determine the validity of the information there.

I'm sure each individual tradition within Paganism has its own death traditions but I also read that a lot of those (for instance, Norse's fire something-or-another) are limited by law.

So, here I am at a point where I feel I should start making these arrangements in my own life, but have no idea what to arrange. If I arrange nothing, my husband is left to sort it all out and in turn I risk a Christian burial, with Christian Rites, when my husband loses the fight as the only remaining Pagan adult in the whole entire family.

Long story short, where can I find more information on Pagan death traditions, general and path specific, so as to make arrangements that fit my personal beliefs, those of my little Pagan family, and that will help my grieving non-Pagan family?
Title: Re: Death Traditions?
Post by: earthmuffin on June 08, 2012, 12:37:52 AM
I've never come across anything like that. However, I'm not that well read with regard to paganism-- it seems like the sort of thing you might create for yourself (or have another pagan do for you).

I just googled it and came across a book by Starhawk that might help.
Title: Re: Death Traditions?
Post by: dragonspring on June 08, 2012, 07:50:24 AM
I think that death traditions are an individual choice.  I went to a workshop last year about death - I will look through my notes this weekend and see what was shared in the workshop.
Title: Re: Death Traditions?
Post by: BronwynWolf on June 08, 2012, 05:27:23 PM
Not sure about any other path, but Nick and I both have our final wishes in writing (Somewhere.... maybe I'd better do it again) He wants to be cremated and his ashes spread in the Lakes District of the UK. I want to be cremated, and have my ashes spread in the Adirondacks. As for a ceremony, all I want is an Irish wake: "Remember be with song and laughter, or don't remember me at all" It needs to be someplace with an outdoor fire pit, though, because I want to incorporate something I saw on TV's "Beauty and the Beast"... each person can write a letter to me, or some memory, and feed it to the flames as a release; a final good bye
Title: Re: Death Traditions?
Post by: Claude on June 15, 2012, 09:13:14 PM
In my path it is traditional for the family to wash the body and anoint it in oil. Then you dress it and set it in the house for people to pay their respects for roughly a week. Coins would be place on the eyes or under the tongue to pay Charon. Also wreaths of parsley, rue, and celery would be included either on the body or on the bed. The procession would start at dusk. Depictions, usually masks, of the ancestors would be carried near the body. Mourners would follow a leader who would give a eulogy later on. Once the body arrived to its place of cremation or burial the eulogy was delivered. If the body was cremated herbs and personal possessions would be thrown in the flames. The fire was usually put out with wine and the ashed collected and entombed near those of the ancestors. It is also important to visit the tombs and eat with the dead. Many ancient Greeks and Romans believe that on certain festivals the dead were allowed to walk in the cemeteries. If the living didn't take care of the dead on these special days or didn't give the dead a proper burial they may come back to haunt them or withhold their blessings. Spirits that came back were called larvae. Also the ancestors were believe to influence the day to day lives of the family more than the gods. Because of this ancestor reverence was important as well as ornate funerals.

Personally I don't want to be embalmed or given and autopsy. I want to be put on ice and then laid out for a single day. After that day I want my body take to a pyre and cremated as closely to the ancient way as possible. I then want my ashes buried under a tree or put in an above ground tomb.
Title: Re: Death Traditions?
Post by: dragonspring on June 15, 2012, 11:01:34 PM
I forgot to look up my notes on the workshop regarding death.  The class I took focused mainly on traditional views of what happens after death but I wrote down were some recommendations about funerary rites.  There was a suggestion to have flowers and candles around the remains to give the etheric body energy it might need to pass out of this plane to the next plane of astral rest.  Also, it was recommended that loved ones sit vigil with the body until it is interred or cremated but not for longer than 3 hours at a time.  The spirit may draw energy from the loved ones to make the transition and more than 3 hours could deplete the energy.

The spirit stages after death are:

1. The etheric body separates soon after death.  Sometimes this may take a day or so but mostly not.
2. There is a period of astral rest.
3. There is a period of karmic review.  This is what some religions call Purgatory or Limbo.
4. The spirit goes to the Summerlands to fulfill any wishes from this lifetime and to re-energize.
5. Reincarnation
Title: Re: Death Traditions?
Post by: vordan on June 17, 2012, 12:13:02 AM
I don't know my coven has no specific death ritual but we have a circle of rememberance for people especially around Samhain. I have given some very serious thought to how to celebrate the death that comes for all. The circle encompasses all of my beliefs about death, about how nothing really ends but is transformed. Our eternal souls do not perish but journey into the great mystery. I can think of no greater tribute to a pagan then in the forming of a circle for it is eternal. Often in our seasonal circles we go around the circle each member discussing what strikes them about the season, what sticks in their mind. I think a circle of rememberance for a particular person should do the same. Pagans sing a song often to end a ritual May the Circle Be Open Yet Unbroken, most coven Wiccans know this song, also the song, Mother of Darkness, We all Come From the Goddess, would be a lovely song for such an event. Even if a person is not a pagan but a Christian the circle can symbolize their beliefs in the hereafter as in the bluegrass and gospel tune, May the Circle be Unbroken.