A Wiccan Funeral

by MSO

The Triple Goddess or triple moon is a Goddess symbol that represents the Maiden (youth), Mother (fertility), and Crone (wisdom) as the waxing, full, and waning moon.

The Wiccan religion is a modern pagan religion that is connected to earth and nature. Contrary to popular belief, Wicca is not a satanic belief system, it is simply a religion that feels connected to Mother Nature. There are many different traditions (branches) of Wicca, each believing in different canon, but the majority of them believe in a god and the Triple Goddess.

Surveys in the United States have found that Wicca is the third largest religion behind Christianity and Judaism. Even in the United States Air Force, Wiccans number 1,434 followers, second only to Christianity among the ranks. It’s believed that the growth of this religion is primarily due to information readily available on the internet but its numbers are hard to calculate as Wiccans believe everyone is equal so there is no “head” of the religion who has organised the followers.

At a standard Wiccan funeral, the deceased should always be buried in a simple shroud, which allows the body to decompose as quick as possible to nourish other life. Most western cemeteries will not allow this form of natural burial however, so it is preferable to cremate the body rather than using a casket. It is suggested that anyone who wants a Wiccan funeral lay their wishes out beforehand, as very often the families of Wiccans do not approve of their conversion due to misunderstandings of the religion.

After passing away, the spirit is believed to still be attached to the body generally, however it is believed that it does not know exactly what is going on, and may be confused until a funeral is able to guide the soul onwards to Summerland. The deceased’s family, friends and coven are to gather together so they can help the deceased on their journey by grieving, acknowledging and blessing her or him.

The first part of the ceremony involves a priestess and priest, dressed in green and black respectively (in some traditions both dress in black) leading everyone through the motions. The ritual space is to be cleared of furniture, with candles placed at the north, south, east and west walls and a candle at either side of the altar, where the body is laid out. The Circle represents protected and sacred space. When people gather in Circles they meet as equals, with no single person set apart or above the others. The priestess is responsible for sweeping the Circle counter-clockwise. After the ritual sweep, she returns the broom to the altar, where she exchanges it for a sword which she swipes at the Circle counter-clockwise while reciting “This is a place which is not a place, in a time which is not a time, halfway between the worlds of the gods, and of mortals.”

The mourners are then directed into the Circle, where a ritual poem is read for each direction, starting with the west and going counter-clockwise. The priest and priestess then exchange a ritual quote, declaring the presence of the gods in the Circle and recognizing the importance of both men and women.

The Priestess then turns to the body and recognizes the finite nature of our bodies and the foreverness of our souls by reciting a number of prayers directly to the dead:

“You are dead. None should ever die alone. I am here to help you with your death.”

“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.”

“Our lives are formed of many others and we form other lives in turn. And when we are here with you after you die, we honor your life.”

“There is only love. The love of the Goddess gives birth to the universe. The love of our parents gives birth to us. The love of our friends and family sustains our life. Kindness, love and pleasure – we are formed from these and we form each other. When we die we leave them behind us.”

“You have left your family. You have left sex and even gender. You cannot be a woman or a man and enter the other world. You have left behind your body. None who have bodies can pass into the other world.”

“The Goddess is taking you back now, the Great Mother. Her womb is the Earth that will receive your body. Your body is a seed now, a seed of other lives.”

“In a sacred space we have gathered to honor you and to give you some things to take on the journey with you.”

The mourners all chant while people are invited to go up to the deceased, one by one, and pay their final respects. The first part of the ceremony is then complete as the body is wrapped in a cloth and a ritual quote is spoken again for each of the cardinal directions.

The second part of the ceremony is the burial of the body. The grave should be dug in advance, and all the mourners gather in a circle around the grave. A quote for each of the cardinal directions is recited again and ancestors, spirits and heroes are welcomed to bless the grave. The body is lowered into the grave gently while the priest and priestess bless food and drink. Each of the mourners takes a drink and a bit of food, and the rest is placed in the grave before they all help to fill in the grave. The mourners all return to the home, leaving a glass of wine and food by the grave. A small reception is held during which mourners stay inside in quiet conversation drinking and eating, while the priest, priestess and close covenmates stay at the grave for a private ritual.

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