This is a formal and intense ritual releasing the spirit of one who has been part of the Sacred Grove on this plane and has recently Crossed the Veil. It is suitably attended by any who loved the Departed and are comfortable among the Pagan community. In many cases, the life of the Deceased will be celebrated separately as well in a culturally-appropriate manner among family, friends, and associates.
With all the participants seated in ritual space at the beginning, the Priestess formally casts the Circle using her wand and a creation myth adapted from one taught by Patrick McCollum from his initiatory tradition. I changed his tradition’s words lazra meck for Om, retaining, I hope, much of the intention but offering more familiar language.
All but Bard are seated in circle; Grove candle stands unlit on North altar. The cremains of Seeker, the Deceased, if present, are on the North altar.
We gather tonight to open the Veil between the worlds, to seek the Lord and Lady, and to bid farewell to our friend Seeker in the comfort of Their presence. Death has come close and confronted us with our deepest fears.
Hear this warning. To be touched by the Lord and Lady is to be changed, and that change ripples outward from this center through all the worlds. If you open yourself to Their touch, you put at risk your comfortable view of the world. You risk experiencing a sense of awe to which worship is the natural response. You risk discovering Deity as your Lover and your Beloved.
Bard lights Grove candle.
Let none remain who is unwilling to be changed by Their touch.
Casting the Circle
Priestess speaks from center:
Nothingness, piled upon Nothingness, gathered in the center which is also everything and edge of everything, which is Nothingness.
The Mother formed Herself from the Nothingness. She looked around.
Priestess looks around, ending up facing East
She was Alone – All One. In Her loneliness She screamed.
Om, Her scream, the light of darkness, went away from Her
Priestess walks toward the East, wand extended and searching
Until om realized om was separate from Her and moving away from the only Other that there was.
Priestess stops moving.
Here – this place of realization, this enlightenment, this first place, we will call East. Here we celebrate illumination, light, the element of Fire.
East lights red candle from side or back of East altar.
Here om began to seek the path back to the Mother–
Priestess begins walking toward South, tracing the circle with the wand.
— bringing the illumination, the Fire – in a shining arc –
Priestess stops at South.
– until the light takes on form and substance, and becomes solid. Here, this place of solidity, we will call South. Here we celebrate form and substance, matter, the element of Earth.
South lights green candle from side or back of South altar.
Again om continued seeking the path to the Mother —
Priestess begins walking toward West, tracing the circle with the wand.
— heavy now with substance and illumination, yet incomplete –
Priestess stops at West.
– until om found itself flowing into the cauldron of creation, the womb of the Mother, and coming to birth in the waters of life. Here, this place of birth, of life, we will call West. Here we celebrate life and the element of Water.
West lights blue candle from side or back of West altar.
Alive now, om continued seeking the path to the Mother –
Priestess begins walking toward North.
— living substance, illuminated, yet incomplete –
Priestess stops at North.
– until om found the Mother’s gift of spirit, of soul, the anima, and became a complete and independent being, alive, aware, and determined. Here, this place of inspiration, we will call North. Here we celebrate Spirit and the element of Air.
North lights white candle from side or back of North altar.
Complete and independent, om still longed to rejoin the Mother –
Priestess begins walking toward the East.
— and chose to continue the search –
Priestess stops at East and turns toward the center.
– until om recognized a place om had been before, and from there —
Priestess walks inward, embracing wand.
— retraced om’s path and reunited with the Mother.
All rise and remain facing the center.
Claiming the Space and Sealing the Circle
The Quarters and the Bard follow the standard Claimings and seal the Circle.
Inviting the Guardians
East speaks from near center, facing outward:
To this circle of remembrance and hope, I call for one to stand in the place of the Sword, to teach us courage and discernment, and to uphold the pillar of the East.
Guardian of the Sword, Hail and Welcome!
All: Hail and Welcome!
West speaks from near center, facing outward:
To this circle of search for meaning, I call for one to stand in the place of the Cup, to teach us compassion and understanding, and to uphold the pillar of the West.
Guardian of the Cup, Hail and Welcome!
All: Hail and Welcome!
South speaks from near center, facing outward:
To this circle of loss and connection, I call for one to stand in the place of the Tree,to teach us of life and change, and to uphold the pillar of the South.
Guardian of the Tree, Hail and Welcome!
All: Hail and Welcome!
North speaks from near center, facing outward:
To this circle of mystery and transformation, I call for one to stand in the place of the Stones, to teach us mirth and reverence, and to uphold the pillar of the North.
Guardian of the Standing Stones, Hail and Welcome!
All: Hail and Welcome!
Inviting Friends of the Grove
The hospitality of the Sacred Grove has been enjoyed by many, friends seen and unseen, with and without bodies, who have been drawn to the company of the Lord and Lady and to the peace of Their home here. We call to mind those who would be here.
The Circle is cast. We are between the worlds, beyond the bounds of time, where night and day, birth and death, joy and sorrow meet as one.3
We invite all old friends, Beings, Spirits, Ancestors, and Guides to join us here, lending your presence and memories, and we bid you hail and welcome.
All: Hail and welcome!
Welcoming the Lord and Lady
Priest invokes Lady.
Priestess invokes Lord.
Settle into a comfortable position that you can maintain without conscious attention while we journey together between the worlds.
South leads grounding and centering using imagery of being within a tree, flowing down into the roots, into the deep silence of the Earth.
Placing your hand on the bark of a great tree, feeling its life, you find yourself within the tree feeling a hand on your bark.
The journey moves down through the roots into the deep silence of the Earth to a grounded state, then back up through the roots, then up the trunk into the branches, feeling the wind and sun, releasing dying leaves to the breeze.
From high in your branches, you look around and begin to recognize familiar spirits in other trees, some mingling their branches with yours, all swaying in the same wind, soaking up the same sunlight. Perhaps you can recognize all of us who have journeyed together this far, trees forming a grove – sheltering – inviting – welcoming –
Eagerly, perhaps, you slip down from the branches into your trunk, where you are feel a hand on your bark – and now you find yourself standing at the base of the Tree, feeling the bark beneath your hand.
As you look around, you may notice the rest of us emerging and sharing the wonder of this place.
Take time in centering to have each person speak at least his name, re-establishing the group experience. Keep it lighthearted.
Here between the worlds we are together in sacred space, at the center of All, in the presence of the Lord and Lady. They are here with us, whether we perceive Them or not, for this is the Grove – Their home and ours. We are always welcome here – and tonight we have come seeking safety and solace, for death frightens us and losing a friend brings pain.
Lady and Lord, we ask Your presence and comfort tonight. We have lost our friend Seeker from our midst. He has departed this life of Earth and has begun his Crossing; we are sad, we miss him, but we would not call him back nor distract him from his Journey so recently begun.
Here, where all times are now and all places are here, we come together to remember him and bid him farewell. We leave our loving words and offerings in Your hands.
Priestess provides the bare details of Seeker’s life and passing, suitable for an obituary.
Seeker, our friend, go your way to the land of the Ancestors, where they wait for you with open arms, there on the edge between this world and the next. See; there they stand.
Ancestral spirits, welcome this one to the place where we all must go.
Mother of All, absorb the spirit of our loved one back into your womb from which he was born. There, reshape him in your place of moulding, preparing him for rebirth among his people.4
Priest shares a memory or observation, then invites more sharing from others.
All present are invited to share, addressing those present or addressing Seeker, speaking their own words or relaying messages received from the voiceless Ones.
The ritual leaders should be prepared with verses, songs, or contributions to help the process along. Ideally, the tone would move down into sorrow then up toward healing laughter, if possible.
In many ways, we have sent our best wishes and blessings to Seeker through the good offices of the Lord and Lady. Let us sum them up in one joyful sendoff.
Seeker, beloved friend, we thank you for being you in this life. You have enriched our lives, and we miss you. We love you, and your spirit is always welcome in our midst. Let there be peace between us. May we walk this Earth together again in some future lives, and may we remember. Until then, dear Seeker, we bid you hail and farewell.
All: Hail and farewell!
We who remain, who will too soon move from this sacred space back into a world with a blank place where Seeker should be, may find ourselves continuing to grieve his passing. He was our beloved, and we will miss him. Or we may see others not seeming to grieve – or worry that we are hiding a grief within ourselves that may come back unbidden to haunt us.
Look around at the others here. We are sharing something very special together – learning to accept a world where Seeker was but seems to be no longer.
Know that no two of us will grieve alike. No two of us will accommodate this change the same way into our lives. And each of us will need compassion, respect, and comfort from others during the time of adjustment. If you are hurting, turn to someone who is here with us now; if one of us turns to you, provide that compassion, that respect, that comfort.
And share again. Share the fond memories, for Seeker lives in these memories carried by all of us whose lives he touched. Talk through the painful memories – if such there be and only if you wish to – until they lose their power to distract you from celebrating the life of Seeker.
We are here in the Sacred Grove, surrounded by friends with and without bodies. Let us make ourselves at home and enjoy the company for a while. Feel free to share – or enjoy in silence.
Priest and Priestess remain responsible for bringing the group together when it is time to leave.
Thanking the Lord and Lady
Priest thanks Lady
Priestess thanks Lord.
Old friends, Beings, Spirits, Ancestors, and Guides who have joined us here, we thank you for your presence and memories, and we bid you hail and farewell.
All: Hail and farewell!
Thanking the Guardians
Quarters thank Guardians.
Bard recalls everyone to normal wakefulness.
Opening the Circle
Bard speaks from center:
The rite is ended, the circle is open. May the blessing of the Lord and Lady be with us all. So mote it be.
All: So mote it be!
Bard snuffs Grove candle.
1Patrick McCollum, Survey of Chaplaincies, Cherry Hill Seminary, Spring 2006
2This liturgical element was included in the previous submission: Section 2, Wheel of the Year
3Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, etc
4Serith, Ceisiwr. 2002. Prayer for Funerals, A book of pagan prayer. Boston MA: Weiser Books.