For this ritual, there may be an open coffin, or the deceased may be laid out on a bed or settee for viewing. This should be in a somewhat out of the way place, rather than the centerpiece, as some guests will have no desire to view the corpse. Alternatively and additionally, pictures of the deceased should be placed around the room in themed groupings according to the roles he or she played in life. For instance, if the deceased was a writer, his or her books should be placed in a group with newspaper clippings of press releases and interviews and pictures. If he or she was a soldier, another area should feature pictures in uniform, medals, commendations, etc. If he or she was also a parent, pictures of the deceased surrounded by his or her children would also be appropriate, as well as handmade gifts and cards that he or she may have received from his or her children. The idea is to reflect the humanity of the deceased in a joyful way. In addition, the officiate may wish to talk to the family about playing some of the passed loved one’s favorite music and home videos.

The acolytes shall welcome guests as they enter and introduce them to the officiating Priest or Priestess who should be moving among the guests offering quiet council.

Call the people into the sacred space and begin as normal. Members of the family or Circle should stand at the four corners and light candles while speaking thusly in turn:

West- “As the sun sets, so has a life ended. As we bid farewell to the sun at the end of each day, knowing it will rise again at dawn, so we bid farewell to name knowing he/she will return to us when his/her night has passed.”

South- “Like the sun which sparks within all things below it the fire of life departs our sight when the day has ended, so too has our friend descended into the darkness of the unknown, and like the Sun, he/she will return to us when the time is right.”

East- “So let the air be filled with song as we await the approaching dawn. Let us not mourn but rejoice that our friend shall now learn the mysteries that those living have forgotten.”

North- “As the Earth has formed us, so we return to her. So we commend our friend to her cool embrace.”

Address the Gods-

Priest(ess) says-
We invite the Gods of old to join this circle so that you may take part in these rites of farewell to our friend and be honored in our faith. We ask that you comfort him/her and when you depart again, may you guide him/her to the afterlife.

Priest(ess) says-
“We welcome to our rites our ancestors whom we know are always among us and give particular honor to the newest of your number, [name].”

Priest(ess) says-
“Like all humans, [name] was a person who was many things to many people. He/she was a mother/father, a daughter/son, a (whatever else is appropriate). I ask each of you now, to whom he/she was important to come and speak to him/her and tell him/her so.”

Priest(ess) addresses people by name and encourages them to come and say something to the deceased. Include children, parents, siblings, friends, employers, etc.

Priestess says-
“[Name] you have lived a good life. You have touched the hearts of all these people. I cannot say whether or not you have fulfilled your purpose, only you know that, but I can say that to these people, you were important and that is worth a lot. You have laughed, you have loved and you have learned much through your life and for that you have earned an honored place among the ancestors. We commend you and we celebrate your passing. Hail, [name] and farewell.”

People- “Farewell friend”, etc. as appropriate around the circle.

The acolytes snuff four candles in the four directions around the coffin saying-

East- The sun will rise again
South- Life continues.
West- Love is our only certainty
North- Only Nature is eternal

Group chant while leaving the circle and processing past the coffin.
Recommend We all come from the Goddess

Liked it? Take a second to support Morningbird on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!