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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in funeral practices

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
News and Death Rites

Recently a kindred member went to Odin. Jan was exceptionally young to die. It was not his legal last name, but among us he went by Odinsson. I asked Odin if he is with him and he is.

In late March, I went to his wake at his favorite pub. There were several prominent local pagans there. There were also many members of his family and community other than just the pagans and heathens. I made several social media posts over the course of the event, starting with the Irish coffee. I remembered when Jan brought his huge fryer to my house for a post ritual feast and made lumpia from his family recipe. I remembered him standing in my kitchen working at the counter and looking up in wonder and delight when I and the folk dance group went by in the hearth room doing a dance where we clapped and turned in unison, and his wife Stephanie joined us and learned some dances. I mentioned some other good times we’d had, and listened to the others tell about their good times. Near the end of the evening, some local pagans and I attempted a rendition of Finnegan’s Wake with some of the words changed, changing it to Odinsson’s Wake.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Happy the Cat Left the Earth

Happy got to experience rain, sunshine, and moonlight on the weekend he died. I spent all day Sunday with him, carrying him around and petting his beautiful black fur with its thick, light gray undercoat, and white spots on the neck and belly. Coincidentally it was the day Catholics dedicate to their cat saint, so when I lay in bed petting my napping kitty and checked social media there were an unusually large number of cat related posts. I spent a lot of my time speaking softly to Happy. I also internally spoke with Freya. She told me I couldn’t save him, and that she would welcome him to her field and her home.

That evening, he was in my bed and meowed for me to do something. I was not sure what. I carried him to his water; he didn’t want water. I carried him to his food; he didn’t want food. I carried him onto the back porch. He rolled onto his back and gazed up at the moon. The white spot on his belly nearly glowed in the moonlight. I let him sit in the moonlight and checked back on him later, and discovered he had made it back inside the cat door by himself, and camped just inside the flap. When I picked him up I noticed the tip of his tail was wet. He got to trail his tail in the pool one last time, which he loved to do. He had made it all the way out to the pool deck and back, but now he was ready to be carried again. I put him back in my bed and curled up around him. I petted him and we fell asleep. He died in the morning before I woke up.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 How a handful of soil holds more than 50 billion life forms | Financial  Times

 Last Rites


The graveside service over, people are beginning to turn back to the cars. But there's one more rite to be observed here today.

This is, after all, my mother, and I her firstborn child.

I scoop up a handful of earth from a new grave nearby, and place it on the lid of the coffin. Against the polished wood, the little mound of sandy soil manages to look both shocking, and inevitable.

This is rite as articulate action: symbolism that no one needs to have explained.

Standing at the coffin's foot, I pronounce the traditional words.

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At a Crossroads: Looking Backward and Forward Along the Journey

It’s been a little while since I last posted here. I’ve been forging ahead on this death care path I’ve committed myself to, while also planning my wedding, spending time with family, and dealing with post-Covid chronic illness. All that is to say, I’ve been juggling a lot, and sometimes I drop a ball here and there (or several) in order to stay afloat.


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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The witches' dance · Alkistis Dimech

Remarks from a Pagan Funeral


In his quite remarkable book European Paganism: The Realities of Cult, from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, Ken Dowden makes the observation that all over ancient Europe, it was customary to end funerals with a dance: specifically, with a round dance, preferably performed around the grave itself.

A funeral ends with a round dance. This is profound and articulate action. Ancient Europe was a large place, much larger than it is today: a place of many peoples, many languages, and many cultures; and yet everywhere, across ethnic, linguistic, and cultural boundaries, funerals ended with a round dance.

A funeral ends with a round dance. Now why, do you think, would the ancestors have done this? Anyone?

[Field responses from people.]

The pagan religions are preeminently religions of praxis: they're about what you do. For pagans, to dance is to pray. (Reporter: Do witches pray? Witch [thinks a moment, then smiles.] We dance.) Among the Kalasha of what is now NW Pakistan, the only Indo-European-speaking people who have practiced their ancient religion continuously since antiquity, the same word—the same word—means both to dance and to pray. Consider the implications of this.

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What To Do With the Ashes? Creative Post-Cremation Memorial Options

Something that I love about cremation, aside from its relative low cost, is the variety of memorial options that are available. In the past, the living just had a few options: burying the cremated remains, keeping the urn at home or in a niche in a columbarium, or scattering the remains. But now, there are a number of creative and heartfelt options for those who want a deeper, more tangible connection with their loved ones' cremated remains.

Cremation Stones

This is a product we offer at the pet funeral home and crematory where I work. While we don't make the stones ourselves, we can send them off for our customers, or they can choose to do it themselves. When the company who creates the stones receives the cremains, they refine the granule remains into a super-fine powder and then add a binding agent that transforms the remains into a clay-like material. The clay is then worked into smooth pebble shapes that fit comfortably into the palm of the hand and heated in a kiln. How many pebbles are created is based on the volume of cremains, which varies from person to person (or animal to animal). One company, Parting Stone, estimates 6-10 stones for cats; anywhere from 5-35 for dogs; and around 40-60 stones for humans.

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