As I’ve said before, my inner compass seems to be broken. Samhain to me has always been about life. So rather than “death” per se – I find my thoughts often wandering to the myth of the goddess, a descent into the darkness of the underworld to seek out knowledge. Some things can only be found in the contemplative darkness of the underworld, and to seek out these affects of life – we too must walk the spaces of the dead, join them at least for a moment. This is why on Hallows (or Samhain if you prefer) my coven group dies a mock death.
For some years now in South Korea it has been a trend to participate in living funerals, and imagine what it might be like to be a conscious guest on the sidelines of your own death. Populated largely by corporate types participating in motivational programs for their employers, dressed in burial shrouds, and lying in the darkness for a time to contemplate their mortality. Many walk away from these living funerals surprised at change affected in themselves during the process. The suicidal walk away aware of the beating of their heart, with a new vigor for life. Those estranged from loved ones suddenly find their differences silly. The fearful walk away with newfound courage to pursue their dreams. The elderly walk away unafraid of the looming twilight, and comforted by a life lived.
A Pandemic Hallows
We’re all rather separate this Hallows, and something I love about this ritual is that in the time of Covid 19, it’s very solitary. Easy and perhaps better to consider alone in the quiet spaces of your life, it is a harder assignment than you might think: Write a eulogy.
When we eulogize ourselves we are able to walk away with a broader understanding of who we are, what we have accomplished, who we leave behind; what we regret. With this new knowledge gained in death we are able to return from our descent into the darkness made whole again, to life, to the living, and to this newfound knowledge of what we might want to change or accomplish.
What is to be gained
So this Hallows I urge you to contemplate knowledge that can only be gained in death, and eulogize yourself. What will you gain? That is a question I cannot answer, but I’m dying to hear it if you want to send me a message about how it went.
Mock Funeral Ritual
You will need:
- Salt and water (corpse water if available to you)
- White candle, as well as a Black candle (have matches on hand)
- Burial Clothing
- Paper and pen
- A box of tissues
- A framed photograph of yourself
- An arrangement of flowers that you are fond of
Preparation: Prepare a memorial table instead of an altar, facing north, with the arranged flowers next to your photograph and box of tissues (it is a funeral after all). Your candles should be placed to either side of the photograph, the black candle in the west, the white in the east. You may choose to prepare your ritual space as you normally might if you so choose (casting a circle and so on), but in this instance, it would be just fine to skip the ceremony and be open and vulnerable in the quiet of your home.
Begin: Having dressed yourself in your chosen burial clothing, seat yourself in front of the memorial table. Placing salt into water, dip your fingertips into the mixture – touching them to your forehead. Pause for a moment before dipping your fingertips again into the mixture and touching them to the right and then left of your chest, your bellybutton, and again the right of your chest, forming a triangle. Light the black candle.
For this moment, you are a guest at your own services, and having been tasked with eulogizing the deceased, begin to write a eulogy for yourself. What are your accomplishments? What has your life been? Who mourns you? What do you leave behind? When you’ve completed this task, turn to face your photograph, and begin reading to yourself what you have written.
After completing the eulogy, lie down in the quiet of the room, allowing yourself to drift beyond the edges of life. Feel the quiet of your body, and meditate on the stillness of death. When the natural time has come for your ritual to be complete, rise up from this death, lighting your white candle from the existing candle flame, then snuffing out the black candle.
Post Ritual: Aside from the eulogy, this ritual should be completed in silence. Follow it with a bath or shower, and a favorite snack and beverage to bring you comfortably back to yourself.
Corpse water and other Necromantic ritual goods available here.