The Pagan has a very different view of the afterlife than the Christian; and even within the Pagan community, you will find diverse beliefs about what happens to us when our bodies die. However you choose to look at death and what comes afterwards, the event itself will be marked, as all major events in a life generally are– with a ritual.
1. A white pillar candle representing the deceased
2. A photo of the individual
Besides the regular ritual tools, you will choose a white pillar candle to represent the deceased. You may want to carve the individual’s name into it. This candle could also be adorned and decorated with herbs, sparkles, seashells, stones, ribbons, etc., or whatever else that resonates with the energy of the deceased– buttons from their clothing, beads from one of their necklaces.
The altar could also be decorated with flowers that were special to this individual, as well as personal items such as mementos from milestone occasions, old toys, things the individual may have collected, or items connected to an interest they pursued in life.
This ritual does not have to be conducted in a cast circle. However, the perimeter of the area could be set with white candles, white stones, bouquets of flowers, or bunches of herbs, and a purifying incense such as sandalwood.
1. When family and friends are gathered, the Priestess will stand before the altar, saying:
“As we all come from the Goddess to experience life; in death so shall we return to Her to experience peace.”
2. The Priestess will then light the altar candles, including the white pillar candle. Holding aloft the special white pillar candle, she will say:
“(name of deceased),
By the element of Earth, you were grounded in the physical world.
By the element of Air, you were open to knowledge and communication.
By the element of Fire, you were inspired with passion.
By the element of Water, you could dream your dreams.
So now, by Earth, by Air, by Fire, by Water…shall you pass to the next stage of your existence.”
3. The Priestess will then return the white candle to the altar. At this point, she may give a short eulogy on the deceased and his/her life; or family members and friends can be invited to come forward and relate memories and stories.
4. A ‘cakes & wine’ ritual can be incorporated into the ceremony at this point, if the family members wish.
*Note: You’ll find a “Cakes & Wine” ritual Here
5. When these aspects of the ritual are complete, the Priestess will take her place at the altar, raise the white pillar candle before the assembled group and say:
“(name of deceased),
Merry we meet,
And merry we part,
Until we merry meet again.”
6. The Priestess will then extinguish the flame of the white pillar candle. She may step forward and present this candle to the deceased’s closest relative, spouse, or partner.
The source for these rituals: The Gray Witch’s Grimoire