Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lesson 6: Requiem: Passing Over Rituals & Other Funerary Rites

Lesson 6: Requiem: Passing Over Rituals & Other Funerary Rites
The following are various Funerary Rites, Passing Over Rituals, and Death Spells. Some of them are short, quick spells for specific needs and others are full rituals that can be adapted for coven/group usage or solitary.
 
These rites & rituals below include both Pagan & Christian information and ideas. There are aspects of each that could be adopted and adapted by either. There are many resources online for finding many more ideas for a special funeral ritual to be planned according to the family and wishes of the deceased.

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How to Perform a Pagan Funeral
It's difficult to generalize about how to perform a pagan funeral, primarily because there are no universally accepted funeral rites or traditions that bind the different pagan categories together. However, if someone you love is a pagan and wants to have a pagan funeral, here are some suggestions on how to pull it off. 

Step 1
Find out what pagan tradition the person followed in life, if you don't already know it. Just as a Catholic funeral rite is not suitable for a lifelong Baptist, do not assume that someone who worshiped Egyptian deities would have wanted a neo-pagan memorial service.

Step 2
See if there is a person who would be willing to officiate at the funeral. Traditional choices for a pagan funeral are the person's family members or friends who are pagans (or sympathetic to their beliefs). He or she may have been a member of a coven, and there may be a priest or priestess willing to perform the funeral. In a pinch, a Unitarian Universalist minister may be available to perform the rites.

Step 3
Locate an appropriate venue for the ceremony. Most pagan funerals are conducted outside. The deceased may have had a special place that felt very spiritual to him or her, like a forest or a seashore, and you may want to hold the funeral at that location.

Step 4
Determine how the person would have wanted his or her body to be taken care of after death. Many pagan traditions use cremation as the preferred way of disposing of a body.

Step 5
Call the corners and watchtowers at the beginning of the ceremony. An essential part of any ritual is calling them to assist. The first corner is the east, symbolized by air, the second is the south, symbolized by fire, the third is the west, symbolized by water and the fourth is the north, symbolized by earth. The watchtowers provide protection for the participants in the ritual.

Step 6
Arrange to have music, colors and other decorations appropriate for the ceremony. This does not have to mimic Judeo-Christian funeral traditions. Their tradition may have specific flowers adorning an altar, candles of a certain color, incense and music from a different culture setting the mood of reverence and respect for the deceased.

Step 7
Pay some kind of tribute to the spiritual being that the person honored in life. He or she may have honored a specific god or goddess, Mother Earth, the life force or another celestial being that symbolized deeply held beliefs.

Tips
Treat the entire ceremony as reverently as you would one in your own tradition. Even if you think that the entire thing is a bunch of hooey, remember that these beliefs were as important to the deceased as your own are to you. Paying the final bit of respect to this person's life is appropriate.

Purple is commonly used for a pagan funeral to symbolize Spirit and the soul.


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Christian death and burial

Christians believe that when someone dies, they are judged by God. The righteous go to Heaven and the sinners go to Hell. Christians believe that Hell is the separation from the love of God:

They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified by his saints.
2 Thessalonians 1:9-10
When a Christian dies, it is seen as the end of his/her life on earth. A funeral is held for friends and family to grieve for the person who has died and give thanks for their life.
If someone is on their deathbed, a minister will prepare them for death. This is most likely after a long period of illness. Prayers of preparation and reconciliation may be said, with only the minister in the room. Family and friends can participate in the Lord's Prayer, the Word of God and Holy Communion.

Often, the deceased will have left information in his/her will concerning what they want to be included in the funeral service (hymns, prayers) and will also say whether they wanted to be buried or cremated.

The funeral is held about a week after death. It can either take place in a church or at a crematorium. It usually takes this form:
  • The Gathering: the priest will open the service with this reading from the scriptures:

'I am the resurrection and the life,' saith the Lord; 'he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.'
I know that my Redeemer liveth...
Book of Common Prayer 1979
  • Readings and sermon: a psalm from the Bible is read out. It is often Psalm 23, 'The Lord is my Shepherd'. Verses from the Old or New Testament are also read.
  • Personal readings: The priest will talk about the person who has died. This can be quite a personal section, reflecting on the person's life and their role in the Christian church. A family member or friend may wish to read out a poem or a passage from the Bible.
  • Prayers: prayers of thanksgiving, penitence and readiness for death are said.
  • Reflection: Silent time for reflection. The congregation is given a minute to reflect on the deceased.
  • Commendation and farewell: The priest speaks these words: "Let us commend (the person's name) to the mercy of God, our maker and redeemer." The priest then reads a prayer of entrusting and commending.
  • The committal: this is probably the most solemn moment of the service. At a burial, this is when the coffin is lowered into the grave. At a cremation, the curtains are closed around the coffin. "We therefore commit (his or her) body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life."
There may also be a selection of hymns which are sung throughout the service.

Some parishes still have space for burials. The burial follows a church service and the family and friends of the deceased gather round the grave for the Committal. It is tradition to throw some dust/mud onto the coffin. A short prayer will be said by the minister.

For those who wish to be cremated, the body is taken to a crematorium, where it is burned. At the point of Committal, the curtains close around the coffin. The ashes are put into an urn and given to the family, who may choose to keep them or scatter them in a place that was meaningful to the deceased.

Catholic funerals

Catholics believe in Heaven and Hell, but also in Purgatory. This is a place for those who have died in a 'state of grace' (that is, they have committed 'venial' or forgivable sins) and may not go straight to Heaven.

A Catholic funeral is slightly different and can be with or without Mass:
  • The Vigil for the Deceased: this is a service of prayers, songs and homilies either at the home of the deceased or in church, before the day of the funeral.
  • Introductory rites: the priest greets the congregation and says: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." He leads the coffin and congregation down the church aisle. Holy water is sprinkled and there is an opening song and prayer.
  • Liturgy of the Word: sermons from the Bible are read out, as well as a homily (a practical rather than theological sermon) and a Psalm.
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist: there is a preparation of gifts, a Eucharist prayer is said and Holy Communion is received.
  • Final commendation: Mass ends, prayers are said and the coffin is taken out of the church.
  • Rite of Committal: prayers are said by the final resting place (at the graveside for burial and before the curtains close for cremation).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines what a funeral is:
The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased, at the participation in that communion of the community gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal life to the community.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
BBC Religions

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Passing Over Ritual #1
Decorations:
White candles, white altar, flowers (white is the color of death and mourning in many countries; but in this case, it is also a reminder of rebirth; in this rite, we're going to focus on that).

Needed:
A picture of the loved one.
A vase of flowers, enough for all.
A pitcher of water and a basin, to be set up just outside the circle for ritual "hand-washing."
The Ashes for burial if this is a burial rite as well.
Drums/musical instruments.

Other Ideas:
One thought is to have a cauldron filled with earth, and a bowl filled with seeds. Have each person plant a seed in the cauldron.

Cleansing:
Each person, using the urn of water, should rinse their hands just before entering the circle. This unifies the mourners and it emphasizes the quiet, special feel of the ritual.

Cast the Circle:
You might want to use callings for the quarters created/used by the loved one, and call upon his/her favored deities, as well as the God and Goddess.

Purpose:
HP/S states:

We are all are here to remember  ________ (name), born _________, and who passed on ____________. 

He/She has gone on to Summerland and now awaits rebirth.

Ritual:
Starting with a meditation or a song is always good at such times. Meditations on one's own personal death, or on a last communication with the loved one, or on a remembrance of past lives would be good. You might have slow drumming or soft music. I would then pass round the photo, have each person look at it, hold it before them so that it is facing the rest of the group, and relate a favored anecdote about the person.

This can also be done with a bottle of booze if you wish to make it more of a wake, or with a special talisman of the person.

If this is a burial as well, then all should head out to the area where the ashes are to be scattered (or the body buried) and there should be a rite at this point, as well. People may wish to bury with the person certain items--a wand or, if the loved one was a tarot reader, a deck of cards. People may wish to say good-bye.

The HP/S should have a final word before the circle is opened. With everyone holding hands, she should speak to/of the Goddess, of the turning of the Wheel, of rebirth, of this person now gone, and how we will all meet them again to enjoy, once again, their many wonderful qualities.

The HP/S should add that, in the loved one's place, she offers everyone a flower to take home as a farewell gift. She should then open the circle. Hugs should be exchanged.

This is a very simple yet beautiful rite as I have been to a few myself.  I hope this information helps you and if you need further assistance, please don't hesitate to ask.

Many blessings to you and yours,
Christine  


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Passing Over Ritual #2
1.1 The Altar
A. The altar is to the West, covered in black. With a smaller table behind it (farther west) it is
covered in blue silk and holds the central-blue conductor candle. 

The divinity candles are: 
One black (left-side) and one white (right-side) both are dedicated to the Daghda. The altar is undecorated.

1. The Ritual color and garb: The priest/ess is dressed in black.

2. Music either recorded or played by an invited musicians can be played at the appropriate time indicated by passage.

B. All items usually on altar are here, in addition:
A chalice or bowl made of ceramic or glass of rich and elaborate design should be brought by the family. This item should be associated with the departed in some way.

A black (thick) cloth bag large enough to hold the [item], a silver cord and hammer all need to be present. The [item] and bag is kept outside the circle in the most eastern part of the room. The hammer may remain on the altar's north side. 

A small bell is placed on the altar.

Thurible incense:
Myrrh & Chervil

The friends and family of the deceased (referred to as the Audience) enter the circle from the East, before

C. Establishing the Circle
The audience sits in a half circle around the altar in the West. 

The immediate family sits to the front nearest the altar (i.e., the mother and father, brothers and sisters, the deceased spouse and children). While the remaining family sit behind the immediate 
family, and friends sit behind the remaining family.

1.2 Opening Ceremonies
C. The circle is cast from the Northwest-west corner of the altar around to the Southwest-west corner of the circle. So that a doorway remains open behind the altar in the West.

D. The Bridge to the Otherworld is opened
The Priest/ess from behind altar; facing east toward the audience turns and faces West. He (she) steps backward (1' ft or so), raises arms in welcome and speaks...
I call to thee O' great Manannan Mac Lír. Here within this sacred circle may the spirit of our beloved parted one manifest and be made welcome. I ask of thee Lord of Tir fa Thon-let the castle gate of Murias be opened. So the Nereids of water may guide our brother (sister) to Tir Na Samhradh. Let him (her) be brought into the warmth of the land of Summer. O' great Oirbsean, grandfather, I honor thee and offer thee my humble loyalty.

F. Consecrations:
The hammer is consecrated. The priest/ess then turns and faces east toward the audience; places his (her) right hand on the hammer and speaks...

O' great In Daghda; great father of life and death, Eochaid Ollathair; deign to bless and to consecrate this hammer. That it may obtain the necessary virtue through you for this somber ceremony. Give this tool the power to release our beloved [name of deceased] from this realm 
to the land of summer where he (she) may be reborn, from your great cauldron.

The hammer is sprinkled with the saltwater mixture, then censed with the incense, it is placed back on the pentacle and the leader speaks...

Eochaid Ollathair bless this tool of release prepared in your great name, and divine power.

The hammer is immediately wrapped in black silk and placed on the altar.

G. Esbat (T. Funeral)

H. 2. The Chalice is consecrated and placed in the west position.
The priest/ess places the Chalice on the pentacle disc, lays his (her) right hand on it and speaks; loudly and clearly...

O' great In Daghda; In Ruad Ró-fhessa; almighty Eochaid Ollathair; deign to bless and to consecrate this hallowed Chalice symbol of your great Cauldron of rebirth. That it may obtain the necessary virtues through you to be a conduit and bridge between the worlds of the living; Tir na mBeo and the land of Summer; Tir na Samhradh.

The priest/ess sprinkles the chalice with saltwater mixture. Then circles it with incense smoke--deosil. He (she) then replaces it on the pentacle and speaks...

O' great Eochaid Ollathair bless this hallowed chalice prepared in your honor and great name.

The priest/ess turns West again and places the Chalice on the small table covered in blue silk, before the blue candle--and lites it. The chalice is once more circled with incense deosil.

K. The funeral is performed.
The priest/ess turns again and faces the East, waits several moments for the audience to gather and grieve in silence, then he (she) rings the bell three times only seconds apart then speaks...

We the family, friends and associates of the deceased [name of deceased] gather together on this day with deep sadness in our hearts. We are saddened because a great man's/woman's life has ended; yet we must remember that although he (she) has left this realm of the physical world and his/her body has terminated. The soul will live on, ((Personal profile insert) All the parts that makes a person like (the deceased) unique and special, the parts we cherish, we love and know to be the true individual these parts will live on. Remember he/she has not gone from our hearts and our minds. [Name of deceased] will live in our hearts and our memories, vividly and tenderly. We now carry and share a part of [name of deceased] within. We must remember our brother/sister as he/she was, and we must forgive him/her for any suffering he/she caused us. We must also forgive ourselves for any pain and suffering we may have caused him/her We must say good-bye to our beloved , and ensure that he/she has nothing keeping him/her from his/her next incarnation.

If there are any words to be spoken by the friends or family they may be spoken now. The priest/ess introduces the first speaker then stands off to the left (SW). Or the priest/ess may deliver the Eulogy at this point.

[...Eulogy...]
-->After the eulogy's are said, then music is played.

After the eulogy has been delivered the priest calls for the Chalice [item] de inseacht (chalice of telling) this is the chalice that the family has brought. The [item] is placed on the bag; and brought 
to the priest/ess--untouched by the assistant who stands to the priest/ess's left-side.

Mourners may be brought to cry before the entry of the [item]. 

The procession walks slowly toward the altar from the East. It is given to the priest/ess.

(The Music ends abruptly. The priest/ess places the [item] on the pentacle and speaks into the [item]...

We must let your spirit go [name of deceased]. Stay no longer then you wish and fear not, for we will finish any tasks uncompleted by you, let this new-found freedom be your only concern, O' blessed spirit; we give you our blessing to leave, for you await a new destiny.

The [item] de inseacht is circled three times with incense, and lifted up with both hands. The priest/ess announces to the audience...

Death seems like a senseless destruction, an abrupt ending to an unfinished purpose. Death does not give us time to tell our departed ones how much we will miss them, or how much we loved them. With the belief that like attracts like; by destroying this [item] it will become property of the nothing, the darkness, the destruction. The words we speak into this [item] will travel to the realm where our beloved [deceased] now dwells. Is there anyone here who would like to speak into the [item] de inseacht?

The assistant delivers the [item] to the new speaker, and will deliver it back to the priest/ess after all who wish to; have spoken into the [item].

The assistant returns to the left of the altar and steps back behind the blue covered table (behind altar). The priest/ess then speaks loudly and clearly...

If ever the silver cord be lost, or the golden bowl, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern; then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return  to the cauldron of Eochaid Ollathair who gave it.

The priest/ess unties the silver cord, and places it on the pentacle disc. The priest/ess then wraps the cloth around the [item] and breaks it with one swift blow to the side so as to inflict the most damage as possible.

(From: Witches Bible Compleat by J&S Farrar)

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Child’s Passing Over Ritual
The blue (conductor) candle is immediately blown out after breaking the [item].

The broken pieces in cloth are set aside. The priest/ess then speaks...

O' [...word of description...] handsome (beautiful) one, who has died so young and so soon, we will miss you deeply, but we know that you shall bereborn again. As the fallen tree gives way to life for young sapling so do we give way for new life. On the moment of your passing, a mother struggled to bring forth new life-- On {date of deceased' passing}...A baby --{sex}. Weighing {weight} Was born on {date} at 00:00--{name of child or say '..Unnamed' } ".]was born. When your last breath was exhaled the child filled its tiny new lungs, for the first time. Let us no longer cry out of sadness for your death. Let us now be joyful for this young life. For this is the great cycle, as night precedes day, and winter precedes summer, so does destruction precede creation.

The priest/ess takes the cord on the pentacle disc and hands it to the assistant (on pentacle disc--untouched by assistant). Who offers it to (in order of preference) the wife/husband/lover, the mother, the father, the youngest son (daughter), brother (sister) or any relative, not listed above.

End of Funeral.

It is customary to have a Wake after the funeral, if this is done. 
The deceased should have a place set for them, with food, drink and even a chair.--No one may sit in the chair, eat any of the food nor drink from the deceased's glass. The broken pieces of the [item] may be buried or added to cremation ashes with the deceased or given a separate burial/cremation of it's own. 

This funeral was written with the idea in mind, that the deceased's body was not present. If a body is present some minor changes may be made to the ceremony. Such as: an opportunity for the audience to view the body. If this is done then place the body in the far West corner, and place the altar to it's left (South). 

This way when the priest/ess speaks facing West he (she) speaks toward the deceased.

All printed material above: Copyright 1996, O'Duigenen Press. Kenneth O' Duigenan, a 2nd Degree Wiccan Priest & Druid. Initiated into the Coven na Scaithe on October 31, 1988.

1 In some Celtic--tribal belief the soul lives within the head. It leaves the body the very moment following the death of a being. 


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Passing Over Ritual for a Mentally Handicapped Person
Oz Caliburn
A long while ago, I said I would post the funeral service that I had put together for my sister. Having at long last got my act together, here it is. The sources for the rite were "Magical Rites from the Crystal Well" by Fitch, and "The Book of the Prophet" by Gibran. A couple of the poems were written by my other sister, and by my father. The final poem is un-sourced, but I first saw it in a copy of "The Wiccan", which was an AustPagan newsletter.

As a bit of background, my sister Vicki was spastic and mentally retarded. She died at the age of 35, after renal failure. My wife and I were at her deathbed, and actually took her across - no easy task, as her mind was very hard to "grip". Vicki, although severely retarded (mentally she was about 3-4, could not read etc.) had grasped the fact that she wasn't going to get better from her last illness, and had in fact asked me to "help her die".

I hope that this rite, my last gift to my sister (even if I have taken it from various sources), may help inspire some of you who find yourself in similar circumstances. It is non-denominational, focuses on no particular deity, and served it's purpose admirably at the time.

Part 1
We have for a while lost one who is dear to us, And we all feel the loss. But it is only for a time, and we will lose our sorrow.

There is a reason for being here, and a reason for going. The Other Side, the Places Beyond, Are warm, pleasing and beautiful with all ills gone, and youth anew.

There is a reason for leaving, when the purpose of this life is done. We must all journey beyond to pause, to rest, and to wait for those who are loved, In a place far from the cares of this world, with happiness and strength renewed. For dying is only a mode of forgetting, a way of rest, a way of returning to the Eternal Source, however we may see It.

It is said in ancient lore -

"Arrayed in some new fleshly disguise,
Another mother gives birth.
With sturdier limbs and brighter brain,
The old soul takes the road again".

(At this point, my other sister read this poem - I believe she wrote it herself, but from where she drew her inspiration, I can only wonder)

You came and touched so many hearts
In so many different ways.
You gave so much, and asked very little in return.
There is an emptiness as if a part of me is missing,
But I am sure with time you will show me how to be whole again.
I know you are safe now, and nothing can harm you.
Remember, although we're apart,
We will always be together.

Part 2
Life and death are one, as the river and the sea are one. For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind, And to melt in the sun?

What is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from it's restless tides That it may rise, and expand, and seek it's Gods unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
Shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountaintop,
Then shall you begin to climb.
And when the Earth has claimed your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

(The following poem was written by my father - he says now that it is crude doggerel, but it speaks from his heart)

Vicki, Fate was most unkind,
Gave adult's body, but child's mind.
Yet from you so much love was spread
Everywhere you were seen to tread.
We'd like to think where'er you roam
In the new world you'll call your home,
There'll be no more pain, no more ills,
No more of this life's bitter pills.
Forgive us if today we're sad,
For we loved you so much - Mum and Dad.

Part 3
(This was read as the coffin was taken from the room used for the service to the crematorium)

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle Autumn's rain.
When you wake in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

Those who were at the service, Pagan, Christian, and agnostic alike, all felt that these words expressed the "right" things at the death of a much-loved person.
Blessed be
O C
...But to be born again, you must die


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Deathbed Ritual 
by Samuel Wagar 

There are two great poles around which the Wiccan religion revolves: Sex and Death. Although we have numerous rituals for marriages and for the celebration of the great moments of life we have none that I am aware of for the final great Initiation, the moment of death. So I've written one - this is taken from the latest version of the P4P Tradition Book of Shadows.

Typically those who love a person who is dying will be aware that the moment of their death is approaching, even if the dying person is unaware. Even in the case of sudden accidental death there is an interval where those who are with the dying person will be aware of their situation, although they may not be able to mark the moment of death due to their own pain, fear and grief.
So, though this brief ritual may be performed by a loved one of a dying person, or by any person, it is more likely to fall under Ministry and to be performed by a Priestess/Priest visiting the hospital or the home to help through the transition.

I believe that there is some part of a person that survives death, which may undergo changes in the realm of the Goddess prior to being reborn into another body. This part of the person strips off personality and memory more or less rapidly along with its body but it may need assistance in doing so as death occurs.

There is no doubt that the person who is dying is experiencing a variety of things, which a death ritual needs to address - the dissolution of personality, the loss of contact with the body, the loss of the family and friends, the fear, the wonder and the awe of this transformation, and the presence of the Goddess and the Ancestors.

And those who are with them, their family and friends ideally, are experiencing terror and confusion, grief, fear at their own mortality. They will also experience the coming of Death and the warmth or cool of the soul leaving the body behind. And what the Priestess says will also have to partly address their feelings (although she will have time with them after the death to comfort them).

The Formal Ritual
Priestess: (Takes the hand of the dying person gently, and looks into their eyes, or into their face if the eyes are closed. )

"You are dying. None should ever die alone. I am here to share your death and to journey with you. There is only love, the greatest Mystery. I reach behind my fear. I open my heart and my eyes in the light of this love. I will go as far on this journey with you as I can. I will not abandon you."

She should breath deeply and centre herself and enter a state of light trance. And she should follow the spirit of the dying person as deeply as she can.

"The Goddess is taking you back now, the Great Mother. She will be with the people left behind, providing strength and comfort. You are not abandoning them. You will leave behind your work. You will give up all of your ties to your family. You will give up sex, and even gender. You cannot be a woman or a man and enter the other world. You will leave behind your body. None who have bodies can pass into the other world. You will become nothing. You will float on the endless waves of the Goddess' womb. You will drift in the warm emptiness at the centre. Nothing will be left but the Will to be reborn."

If possible the Priestess will remain with the dying person until she is dead. At the moment of her death say the following:

"Journey on now, sister. We will follow when we can. May you be born again at the same time and in the same place as those you knew and loved in this life. May you know them again and love them again."

And now the Priestess' task must be to comfort the living.

© Samuel Wagar, POB 2205, Clearbrook, British Columbia, V2T 3X8 CANADA 1994 c.e. Permission hereby granted for reprinting for free distribution or use in classes in Witchcraft taught for free so long as this notice is included. Any other use is violation of my copyright.


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Ideas for Pagan Funerals 
Author Unknown 

"A man's dying is more the survivors' affair than his own." --Thomas Mann

What I'm going to propose here are some ideas for last rites--as with most of the other rites in this turn of the personal wheel, what happens at this time is going to rely on several factors, one being the person's own wishes (and we can hope that the person took the survivors, and not just themselves, into account when they considered how they wanted to be remembered in that final rite), the wishes/will of the family, and the traditions of those doing the rite.

Decorations:
White candles, white altar, flowers (white is the color of death and mourning in many countries; but in this case, it is also a reminder of rebirth; in this rite, we're going to focus on that).

Needed:
A picture of the loved one.
A vase of flowers, enough for all.
A pitcher of water and a basin, to be set up just outside the circle for ritual "hand-washing."
The Ashes for burial if this is a burial rite as well.
Drums/musical instruments.

Other Ideas:
One thought is to have a cauldron filled with earth, and a bowl filled with seeds. Have each person plant a seed in the cauldron.

Cleansing:
Each person, using the urn of water, should rinse their hands just before entering the circle. This unifies the mourners and it emphasizes the quiet, special feel of the ritual.

Cast the Circle:
You might want to use callings for the quarters created/used by the loved one, and call upon his/her favored deities, as well as the God and Goddess.

Purpose:
HP/S states that all are here "to remember ________name, born_________, died____________. He/She has gone on to Summerland and now awaits rebirth."

Ritual:
Starting with a meditation or a song is always good at such times. Meditations on one's own personal death, or on a last communication with the loved one, or on a remembrance of past lives would be good. You might have slow drumming or soft music. I would then pass round the photo, have each person look at it, hold it before them so that it is facing the rest of the group, and relate a favored anecdote about the person.

This can also be done with a bottle of booze if you wish to make it more of a wake, or with a special talisman of the person.

If this is a burial as well, then all should head out to the area where the ashes are to be scattered (or the body buried) and there should be a rite at this point, as well. People may wish to bury with the person certain items--a wand or, if the loved one was a tarot reader, a deck of cards. People may wish to say good-bye.

The HP/S should have a final word before the circle is opened. With everyone holding hands, she should speak to/of the Goddess, of the turning of the Wheel, of rebirth, of this person now gone, and how we will all meet them again to enjoy, once again, their many wonderful qualities.

The HP/S should add that, in the loved one's place, she offers everyone a flower to take home as a farewell gift. She should then open the circle. Hugs should be exchanged.


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Prayers of Pagan Death Ceremonies:
We, the hidden children of the Goddess, know that there is naught to fear in thy embrace, which none escape; that when we step into thy darkness, as all must, it is but to step again into the light. Therefore, in love, and without fear, we commend to thee our sister. Take her, guard her, guide her; admit her to the peace of the Summerlands, which stand between life and life. And know, as thou knoweth all things, that our love goes with her.

From: The Witches Bible

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This is from an Egyptian prayer, Isis Mourning Osiris: 

Yet doth my heart yearn after thee and mine eyes desire thee. 
Come to her who loves thee, who loves thee! 
Come to thy sister, come to thy wife, to thy wife... 
Come to the wife of thy house. 
I am thy sister by the same mother thou shalt not be far from me. 
Gods and men have turned their faces toward thee and weep for thee together...
I call after thee and weep... yet am I thy sister, whom thou didst love on earth... 
My brother. . . my brother. . .

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Passing Over or Requiem

Attunement:
Softly chant:

We all come from the Goddess, and to Her we shall return,
Like a drop of rain, flowing to the ocean.

Asperging

Casting

Calling the Quarters

Inviting the God
The HP says:

Now do I call You to this our circle, Great God. I call you as Lore of the Harvest, Lord of Death, Holder of the keys, Lord of the Underworld; and I call you as the Comforter and Consoler, the Compassionate One Who leads us all to the Cauldron from which we are reborn. Give welcome now to _______, who comes to You in honor and humility to visit Your other lands for a while.

Inviting the Goddess
Then the HP kneels in the West and calls upon the Goddess:

I invoke and call upon Thee,
O Mighty Mother of us all.
By seed and root, by bud and stem,
By leaf and flower and fruit,
By life and love,
Do I invoke Thee to join
Those gathered here in Your name.

HPs:

I call upon the Lady as Crone, She Who harvests all that lives,
Who has taken ______ by the hand and led (him/her) into the Summerland, there to rest and reflect and joy in the company of the Goddess and the God until it is time for him/her to be born again to the circle. For She is also the Mother of all things and the Lady of rebirth, and She shall surely grant _______ the gift of life again when the Wheel has turned.

Stating the Purpose
HP:

We are gathered to celebrate the life of a friend _________ and to say farewell until we meet in the Summerland or in another life. Some of you have expressed your desire to share a story about _________, or just to give your thanks for having known him/her. _________, would you like to begin?

Sharing Our Stories
Family and friend come forward one at a time to share memories and gratitude.

HP: 

Let us think on these things and on the good times we have shared with _________, in silence for a moment. (Musical interlude).

Gifts and Memorial

HPs:

I know that some of us have gifts we would like to send with _______ on the journey to Summerland, or memorials we would like to make. I’ll begin by offering this…

Family and friends come forward and offer gifts or memorials. If the body is to be interred, these might include items of sentimental or symbolic value to be placed in the grave. Memorial gifts might include contributions to the deceased’s favorite charities, or trees planted in his/her name, sponsorship of children or endangered animals, and the like. The family may wish to offer suggestions well in advance of the ritual.

Interment or Scattering of Ashes

HPs:

_________’s body was the gift of Mother Earth, and now it is time to return that body to the Earth, as part of the eternal cycle.

Here the body is interred or the ashes scattered if there has been a cremation. If on private land, the Hps may wish to say a few words explaining why this place was special to the deceased.

Planting the Seeds

HP:

All die, but in the fullness of time all are reborn. As a sign of that rebirth, we plant these seeds. The y will rest quietly in the earth for a time, as ________ rests in Summerland. But then, as they sprout and blossom, let us be reminded that one day our beloved  ________ will return - in a new form, but with the same beauty and strength of spirit. Like the self-sowing perennial, our bodies are not everlasting; but our spirits, the very core of our being, are; and like the perennial, we shall return again and again.

Here the High Priest plants some seeds (or explains where they will be planted), preferably of evergreen or perennial plants or flowers.

The Charge of the Goddess

Thanks to the Allies
The High Priest says a special thank you to the familiar, spirit guide, animal totem, patron or matron god/dess aspect, and other creatures and spirits associated with the deceased.

The Mystery

HPs: 

All creatures die, but first they live and love. To fulfill love, one must meet, and remember, and love again. But in order to meet again, one must be born. Before one can be vborn, there must be love. And that is all the mystery. May _________ be born again to the circle.

Farewell to the God

HP:

Lord, thank you for the life and joy you have shared wit hour friend.
Let him/her find reunion with those who have gone before, and walk with ________ in the Summerland until it is time for him/her to return to this world

Farewell to the Goddess

HPs:

Lady, thank you for the presence of _______ in our lives. Hold him/her close to you, love him/her, and walk with him/her in the Summerland until it is time for him/her to be born again.

Dismissing the Quarters
Say, for example:

Guardian of the Watchtowers of the North, Spirit of Earth, guide and protect the spirit of _______ as it journeys to the Summerland. Hail and farewell!

Opening the Circle
The High Priestess opens the circle. Upon returning to the East, she replaces the sword or athame on the altar and says:

The circle is open but never broken. To one another and especially to ___________, we say: “Merry did we meet, and merry did we part, and merry shall we meet again!”

Toasts and Refreshments
If there are toasts, a glass should be filled for the deceased and placed on the altar. Later the wine can be returned to the Earth as a libation.

From: Coven Craft by Amber K, 2003

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Pre-Burial Protection Spell
Before the burial travel with the deceased, by walking or driving, around the cemetery in a clockwise direction one or three times (which ever is most feasible or desired). This action provides for the protection and luck of the one who has passed during the next part of their journey.

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Funeral Garland
This is to be given to the funeral or memorial service attendees as talismans to be burned as needed for protection or to contact the one who has passed. The strung tears of frankincense and myrrh offer comfort and spiritual cleansing. 

Need:
String
Needle
Frankincense Resin tears
Myrrh Resin tears

String the Frankincense & Myrrh tears alternately and tie the thread ends together to make a circle, or if you prefer just a long single strand of the tears. The circle representing the Circle of Life, Death, and Rebirth. The strand representing the Life Line or Life Path from birth to death.

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“Ticket” to the Otherworld
In some cultures it is believed that the body needs a “ticket” to get passage from the psychopomp to be taken to the Otherside. This “ticket” is a tattoo. An identifying mark which the psychopomp will recognize and thus allow passage and entrance to the Otherworld. 

This tattoo is applied to the hand or wrist (rather like a stamp you get for getting into a nightclub or amusement park) while still living. The design is usually a geometric pattern of some sort, but the choice is yours. Design or find a design, through divination or mediation, that suits you and then have it tattooed on your hand or wrist. People how see it won’t have any idea of its significance, but may enquire about the design itself as people often do about tattoos.

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