Tag Archives: death

Death rituals


I’ve been watching this channel on YouTube entitled Ask a Mortician. She gives some very interesting insight in the whole process of death and funerals. She spoke at a TEDtalk on the topic of Burial Practice That Nourishes the Planet.

This led to my interest in various modern funeral practices you can do with the body.

Become a diamond or death bead. I teased my husband that I’d turn him into a diamond and tell people it’s the only jewelry he bought me. <evil laugh>.

Become a beautiful glass creation. This isn’t an urn because your ashes get swirled into glass. Although you can find some remarkable urns. Just look up ‘unusual urns’ to find the beautiful to the creepy.

Send your remains to space. It’s a romantic idea, to have your remains in space, among the stars.

Turn your remains into a tree. If you want to go organic, you can have your remains added to a tree to plant anywhere. Another options is having biodegradable coffin. This also requires your body to not be embalmed, so check local laws to see if that is allowed.

Tibetan Sky burial. It might sound gross, to have a body left to vultures to be eaten, but this practice is part of the Tibetan culture.

Viking burials (the truth). I’ve heard of people make a model ship and set that afire in a river or stream.

Donating your body to science. This options requires to you not only fill out formal paperwork, but you need to also be sure your family understand your wishes.

How would you like to be buried or cremated? I’ve informed my husband that cremation is fine, but I want organs donated if they are needed. Post in comments.


The Viking Afterlife

The Vikings had a peculiar view of the afterlife, where you died on battle, you were assured to join the gods in Valhalla, to drink and party, to fight and ‘die’ and do it all over again, every day, for eternity.

I found this video, The Saga of Bjorn, that illustrates in a funny way the tradition of dying in battle to go to Valhalla.

Death and Afterlife in Viking tradition is a complicated matter. Funeral rituals could be lengthy affairs, including human sacrifice, and lots of drinking.

Last week’s episode of The Vikings on the History Channel included much of what was described in saga and outsider accounts.  Ahmad ibn Fadlan wrote about his experience among the Vikings, adding the event of a funeral.

What’s your thoughts on the afterlife? For some pagans, they believe in Summerland, reincarnation, or other ‘heavens’. Personally, I feel whatever energy that makes us alive simply dissipates into everything else to be recycled. Add your opinion in comments.

Rituals and Rites

58b30706b047afe9faf92205c6059a2284430da3 People follow a number of rituals through their lives to mark important moments, generally that of changes. We observe birthdays, graduations, and even recognize the passing of loved ones. Getting a new job, or achieving a goal are other tiny rituals we might celebrate.

Pagans use ritual to also mark the cycles of the moon, the sun, and changes in our lives. Rituals also vary from tradition to tradition, and I know of plenty of pagans who don’t celebrate many of the listed rituals at all. Its all what you feel the need to follow, and its acceptable to create whatever ritual you need as well.

Esbat rituals are often held for inspiration, training, communion, and other reasons. Many pagans use the label of esbat for full moon ritual, but its really a ritual at any time needed to cast circle and engage with the Divine. It differs from a Sabbat as its for ‘work’, not celebration.

Sabbats celebrate the eight holidays marked by the solar year. It includes solstices and equinoxes as well as the cross quarter days. Here, you’ll find Yule, Imbolc, Beltane, Ostara, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain.

Dedication and Initiation commemorate a pagans moment where they begin their spiritual path. This involves a self blessing and acknowledgement of their chosen path. While Dedication is practiced among the solitary practitioners, Initiation acknowledges a new member to a group, primarily a coven or grove.

Wiccaning celebrates a baby’s dedication to the gods, similar to that of Christening or baptism. The child is presented to the God/dess for protection and guidance.

Coming of Age rituals provide children that are at a certain age or state of maturity to endure a ritual

Handfasting is the pagan marriage between two individuals. Many groups recognize gay marriage, so couples can celebrate amid friends and family in ceremony. If the priest/ess is ordained (and it doesn’t take much to get that done), its a legal ceremony.

Parting Ritual offers couples who do not wish to be married anymore a ceremony to part ways.

A Croning ritual marks a woman’s stage of old age and menopause. It celebrates an age of wisdom. I haven’t found a comparative ritual for men, since men don’t really go through the same level of change as women do, but you can easily create a ritual to celebrate a man’s ‘wizarding’. (yes, I just made up that word).

Rite of passing honors those who passed on with a ritual. This can include lighting of candles, sharing stories, and giving farewells to the person now gone.

Blessing rituals span to people to places, and even things. You can create a ritual to bless a new home, or ask for blessings for your Self if you’re feeling bad.

Whatever the ritual, the symbolism and meaning strikes a chord in the individual and that should be honored first and foremost.