PART ONE: The Priestess and Priest, dressed both in white, shall conduct the ceremony. Their assistants, dressed in black, shall assist, act as ushers and lead Part 3. The ritual space will be prepared as follows: cleared of furniture, with a candle at each of the cardinal directions and two flanking the main altar. The corpse should be laid out at the main altar. The main altar shall be arranged at the grave site. Sweep and Cast the Circle as usual. (As the mourners wait at the edge to the ritual space, the Priestess shall sweep out the Circle widdershins (counter- clockwise) while concentrating and grounding. She shall replace the broom by the main altar, pick up the sword and cast the Circle widdershins while saying: "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." Bring people into the Circle as usual (the Priestess takes the Priest by the hands and pulls him into the Circle. They turn in a half-turn widdershins as he comes in and then he pulls in the next person and so on until everyone is in the Circle, after which she takes up the sword and closes off the doorway left it the Circle through which people had entered.) Call the directions Widdershins, beginning with the West. The assistants should do this and the directions should have been assigned ahead of time. West: "As the sun sets So our friend has left us The water of our tears like the salt water of the sea, and Life the water of our mother's womb, blesses this Circle." South: "As life is a day So our friend has passed into the night The fire of our life, the memories and courage, the Strength given to us by our friend blesses this Circle." East: "As all that falls shall rise again So our friend will be reborn The air we breathe, this treasure of our life, the Compassionate caring we give each other blesses this Circle." North: "As the Earth forms us So our friend shall return to the earth Our Mother feeds us and clothes us. She gives us Everything and in the end she takes our bodies back. And Earth blesses this Circle." Drawing Down The Moon and Sun. The Priestess and Priest recognize the presence of the Gods in the Circle and specifically heighten their own awareness of the presence of the divine, acting from the divine part of themselves through the ritual. Priest: "You are the Goddess Hecate, as are all women. You give birth. You feed the children from your own body. And You take them back for a new birth. World without end, eternal creation." Priestess: "And you are the God Arianrhod, as are all men. You are born. You live and You die, only to be born again. All-Father, All-Destroyer, ruler of the land of the dead." Together: "Birth and death." Over and over and over. The Priestess turns and addresses the corpse: "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." Priest – addresses the Circle: "Please come up now if you can and speak of your dead. Tell him/her whatever you need to. Help in the journey into death." Address the corpse: "I will remember you at Samhain and bless you then." The circle will chant, quietly: "We all come from the Goddess and to Her we shall return life a drop of rain falling to the ocean We all come from the Horned One And through Him we are reborn Corn and grain, corn and grain All that falls shall rise again." While everyone who wishes to comes to the main altar and talks to the dead person. When everyone who wishes to has talked, the Priestess will say: "Journey on now, sister. We will follow when we can. May you be born again at the same time and in the same place as those you knew and loved in this life. May you know them again and love them again." And now the body will be ceremoniously lowered and the Circle ended. The Directions will be dismissed as the body is being lowered with the following: East – "The Sun will rise again." South – "Life continues." West – "Love is all that we can be sure of." North – "Only the Mother is eternal." A pillar candle shall be lit after the body is lowered and left to burn. PART TWO: Priestess and Priest bless food and drink: "It is not we that bless this food and drink But it which blesses us. In its nature it nourishes our bodies And in sharing food and drink We create community." Each person takes a drink and pours some into the grave, eats something and places part in the grave. When all have finished the grave is filled in. The directions are dismissed quietly with an informal thanks. The mourners head back to the reception. A glass of wine and some cakes are left behind at the grave side. PART THREE: The ushers will direct people to food and drink and quiet conversation to continue while the Priestess, Priest and the dead person's coven-mates and closest people proceed to the grave with the body. When they have finished their private part of the ritual they will rejoin everyone else for a reception at which stories of notable things done by the head person and prayers are offered up.
P.S. this ceremony was preformed for a close friend and loved mother and teacher, Lady Audrey who was with us for 78 years.