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Liminal Rites of Life and death II : The case for death

-Caveat : Please keep in mind this posts refers to a certain type of death and death views in western society, and does not refer to pandemic or violent deaths, such as in war. I wish we could all aspire to have a good death but that is not always possible. The transit can be extremely difficult and in certain circunstances, there is really not much we can control or do to ease it. My wish is that every soul that passes in dire circumstances and their loved ones finds peace and solace in this extremely painful situations-

On the other hand the dark mirror or the "below" in regards of the "above" of Life, we have the Rite of passage of death.

This is our ultimate Mistery, the last great threshold and the most absolute change of state. It pertains our extraordinary last transformation and it is ironically the most important act in our existence. One our lady Hekate is in the most present in her Psycopompos aspect, guiding with her Torches our travelling souls.

Death, the absolute finality of our concious expression in this plane, is, although might seem paradoxical, what grants the meaning of terrenal living. The fact of knowing it will all inevitably end is what finally allows us to live in fullness. Dying provides us a structure, tells us our time is limited and we should take advantage of it to live in virtue and fullfilment.

Eternity, only by the fact of being eternal and inmortal, would blur who we trully are.

At the moment of our passing we go back to the in-between, now at the other side of the coin. This time we become witnesses to the new life, guides from the Otherness as Ancestors and we at last would know the secrets veiled by the physical plane.

In western culture we have a great fear of dying, even within the "pagan communities". We erect altars to the Ancestors and the Unknown Dead, but often we do not have a close relationship with Death as a brigde between the worlds and specially we cannot brag of true acceptance and comprehension of this inexorable mystery. This is something we must make peace with and ponder as we devote ourselves to a Goddess of Life and Death, one that is terribly popular in modern culture as a "dark, underwordly" deity.

People in general, theorically conmemorate the passing (or sometimes it's even a celebration of life) in abstract rituals gleefully, until Death stares us right back in the face and we're forced to really see her. We're not used to trully face our own mortality, nor of those we love with as much naturality as our Ancestors did. Death has been as much sanitized as demonized in modern culture.

We often give our dying to sterile hospitals or sometimes lonely and impersonal "retirement homes" where often they are deprived of a good death, a peaceful Rite that exalts their life and the meaningful impact they had in others, not mentioning the Traveler's parting wishes (such as music, dying in their own home, religious rituals previous to last breaths, ect) and after this we deliver our dead loved ones to the mortuory industry where they inyect them with poison for our enviroment in order to make them look unnaturally in semblace to living, and lock them in cement vaults where the Sacred Land can't reclaim them to transfigurate the traveller into one with the territory that saw them take their first and last breath.

The journey between the worlds becomes then that much more difficult for the spirit fulfiling that last Rite of Passage, without the solace of the necesary company to alleviate the conmotion that is the change from physical conscience to a spiritual one again.

Of course, in pandemic and war times, this is much more challenging to process and and carry on, and many souls have sadly parted without a proper good death and a goodbye from their loved ones. This will not hinder their peace at the other side once the soul has "settled", as their loved ones in this plane will have performed their rites, honour and will remember them.

It is necessary then, to heal our own relationship with mortality first. To interiorize death as a ineffable portal of unconscious transmutation and, while grieving is a big part of the process, pushing away from death will only deprive us of the incredible experience that is so tied to life itself. The travel that pertains death is a mirror of that of the travel of beign born, as a painful process for the spirit changing form and for the community around it.

Birthing produces the pain of labor and the emotional pain that can cause becoming a parent, and Death comes also with physical pain, as much as the agony and fear of the Traveller of relinquish their earthly life and their family's of letting them pass on. In both this journeys, it is Hekate who stands offering comfort and guide in the liminal space between life and death. It is her sacred torches that will light our difficult path among the worlds.

These roads will open at her will to allow the free passing of the spirits and patron deities of the dying person to recover their soul, offer peace and a good transit in the underworld's crossroads and it's rivers, from one side and the other.

In regards to the Rite, it is much more personal. If the Birthing rite and welcoming ceremony focuses on the new life, this one will concentrate on the life that's left behind. For this purpose we will need a Priestess or Priest that can act as a Psicopompos, since this Rite will take place ideally before the physical death. The starting point would be the "death plan" of the traveller: We will know who they want beside them, if they want/can pass away in their own home, if they want certain music or lighting in the passing moment.

In the hour of truth, a big part of the ceremony will consist of simply talking to the dying person. There is a moment of indescribable power in which the soul lets go of earthliness and expires their last breath to courageously face their transfiguration. It is now where we should speak to them, to let them know they have died, they're not alone and we're here for them to ease their transit. That they're loved, not alone and will not be forgotten.

We would call on the Guardian Spirits, the person's spiritual allies to be present and help the transient to begin the soul's parting. We'll cry, sing, cover the mirrors and stop all clocks, then we will toast on the person's life and talk about them, remembering them. We will specially libate and give thanks to their agathos daimon, who was worked hard to keep their person's health and safety during their lifetime. After a full lunar month, we would welcome the new Ancestor on our altar with their urn, their own photo, candle and offerings. In this way we can facilitate a safe and peaceful travel for the soul. Ideally also their body would be cared for by their own loved ones and returned to the earth naturally, but for this we must closely follow the death plan and what they wanted for themselves and their families.

The new Ancestor then will rest remember and come back to us according to their wishes.

The mirror between life and death is a veiled and incomprehensible portal of which we can glance only for an profoundly transformative instant in which we can see beyond mundane life and the instranscendence of "normal" humanity, observe the abyss beyond us that expand in a manner that we can't deny what lies ahead. A liminal space that extends in time before we're born and after we die.

A torchlit place where Hekate meets us.

Originally published as an invited conference for the event of Pagan Pride 2021 hosted by Templo de la Diosa

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Love this. Thank you.


Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Una lectura completamente necesaria.


Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Bello y sorprendente 🙏🏻🌙🔮


May 22
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you Gio. I love your post.

Somehow in the last weeks it happened to me to discuss about death several times and I agree with you. In the Western world (I am speacking about Italy and France), we may talk about Death in general, especially in a sort of intellectual way, but we are not used to face it (and our mortality) like it is something that is really - and I mean really, truly - going to happen to us and to our loved ones. When I tried to discuss with my family about how to celebrate our Ancestors now that we don't live near their burial sites anymore, I understood that they din't want to have anything…


Sylvan R.
Sylvan R.
May 21
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Such a pleasure to read!

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