The Last Great Initiation

The Last Great Initiation October 7, 2010

I am not sure exactly how it happened, I don’t even remember talking about it before my name was listed, but with the recent death of a good friend of mine I found my name listed as the gravesite Officiating Minister. When I first began Seeking with a Coven many years ago I had never dreamed that one day I would be asked to perform the equivalent of last rites for a dear friend, student, and initiate; I am honored to have done so.

Roberta Stewart holding a wreath for her late husband: Sgt. Patrick StewartI am ordained and have been elevated to third degree within the Eternal Harvest Tradition but at this moment I found myself in a situation neither I nor my up-line had ever been in before. We have had deaths before, and we have marked the last great initiation as is proper within our Tradition but this is normally a private Coven affair.

During this process I found that I was in a position that few Pagan Ministers had been in before. As I spent the hours working out the details of the ritual I would perform, a resemblance to the Coven rite, it struck me that though I know many Pagan leaders and have been in numerous Covens/Groves in some leadership position that there was no one on my list of friends, contacts, or even acquaintances of acquaintances to whom I could bounce ideas back and forth with. I surmise though, that as our community grows so will there be greater need for someone to fill this role.

Every detail had to be thought over but the toughest part was not adapting the Tradition’s liturgy for use in this manner but being able to both fully immerse myself in the memory of my close friend’s life and being able to separate myself from it enough that I could do the process justice. In many ways it forced me to re-evaluate my own thoughts about death and mortality. Mostly though I am left in a place where I have moved beyond grieving but into celebration. I believe this process is the intense work of transformation and in this realization I made it my duty to extend this to the family and friends gathered so they too could lower their grief into the tomb and birth forth from the cauldron the joy of life, in particular the life of our recently departed.

I have been deeply humbled by it all and I blessed her initiation through the veil as best I could; I think it would be to her liking, and hopefully other got something from it as well.

Follows is the liturgy given:

-Opening prayer


Into death, the true initiation, we name you just as you were named when you came into this world. We name you with the many names of your life, and may their beauty echo from our hearts and into the next world

_____________: the name given at birth by those who loved you before they had met you.

Beautiful in all her names.

_____________: the name you chose as Priestess and honored the Old Ways by taking.

Beautiful in all her names.

_____________: the name your god children gave and you lovingly accepted.

Beautiful in all her names.

_____________: the name your siblings gave because although sister you may be, to them you were more.

Beautiful in all her names.

Crone: the name you took in honor of the life you had led and the many things you had to share.

Beautiful in all her names.

Mama: the name your children called you because no one else is quite like Mama.

Beautiful in all her names.

_____________: the name you accepted from the love of your life.

Beautiful in all her names.

Many have been your names, more than could ever be listed

Beautiful in all her names.

Beautiful in all her names.

Beautiful in all her names.

-Anointing (appropriate degree symbol traced in air)

Thus you are named and blessed be thy feet, that walked a path you made your own.

Blessed be thy knees, that knelt in reverence of the wonder and beauty of this world.

Blessed be thy womb, that brought forth life.

Blessed be thy heart, that loved both fiercely and generously.

Blessed be thy lips, that broke the silence with the presence of you.

Blessed be thy nose, that breathed the many fragrances upon the wind.

Blessed be thy ears, that learned to listen to the beat of the heart.

Blessed be thy eyes, that marked witness to your journey.

Blessed be you, in all your names.


The veil has parted and you are returned to the cauldron of the mother, and we are blessed to have been a part of your life.

Blessed Be!

-Poem and sprinkling of dirt (poem contributed and read by ____ while red earth was sprinkled from a cauldron, by myself and those desiring, upon the coffin and grave.)

(Note: Author Mary Frye 1932)

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there;

I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there;

I did not die.

Blessed be!



Browse Our Archives