Rite for the Dying


[compiled from various sources by Valerie for the deathbed of Richard, a friend]


Point candles should surround the bed. Altar set up at SE side of bed so Richard can see.

Light point candles except for Center; light incense and leave it on the altar. Everyone stand in a circle around the bedside. HPs faces altar, takes three knifepoints of salt with the athame from the container of salt, and stirs them clockwise into the bowl of water, saying: "Salt and water,inner and outer, soul and body ..."

HPs shakes the water out over the altar three times, saying: "...be thou purified, be thou cleansed. Cast out all evils of the world of phantasm."

Salt water purification by drinking, leaving Richard till last. When it is his turn, HPs speaks the Three-Fold Blessing, as follows: (Jimmy [Richard's lover] touches each body part named with salt water.)

"Blessed be thy feet, which have brought thee in these ways,
Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar,
Blessed be thy hands, which have made beauty,
Blessed be thy lips, which will speak the sacred names,
Blessed be thy eyes, which have seen the wonders of life."

Everyone face East. HPs: (takes athame, taps three times on the wall or window in front of her, stands in invoking position with legs apart and arms wide, forming a five-pointed star with her body)

"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the EAST
Powers of AIR, Powers of the MIND:
We summon, stir, and call you up;
By the air that is Her Breath
Come to us, come to us, come to us!"

(everybody joins in on the "Come to us")

HPs uses athame to scribe a pentacle in the air, saying: "Blessed be!"(all repeat).

HPs takes bowl of salt water and sprinkles to the East, saying "With Water and Earth I purify the East. Blessed be." (all repeat).

HPs takes incense and waves it in a circle to the East, saying "With Fire and Air, I charge the East. Blessed be."(all repeat).

Repeat to the other directions. The invocations go as follows:

"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the SOUTH
Powers of FIRE, Powers of the WILL:
We summon, stir, and call you up;
By the fire that is Her energy
Come to us, come to us, come to us!"


"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the WEST
Powers of WATER Powers of the EMOTIONS:
We summon, stir, and call you up;
By the water that is Her blood
Come to us, come to us, come to us!"


"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the NORTH
Powers of EARTH, Powers of the BODY:
We summon, stir, and call you up;
By the earth that is Her body
Come to us, come to us, come to us!"


When the circuit is completed, the HPs turns to the East. Reaching up with the athame, then stooping to touch the ground, saying "As Above, So Below", HPs then turns to face the rest of the Circle and says: "The Circle is cast. The ritual is begun." HPs lights center candle and prepares for invocations of the gods.

Invocation (HPs):
"By love alone I may be known.
Love is the only law I know.
All things live and are my own:
from me they come, to me they go."

HPs: We gather here now to bid farewell to a friend who must travel far.
The blessings of the Goddess, of the God, of the Old Ones, and of good friends
Are with you as you travel beyond.

All: Death Chant as follows:

"Never the Spirit was born
The spirit shall cease to be never
Never was a time it was not
End and beginning our dreams
Birthless and deathless and changeless
Remains the spirit forever
Death has not touched it at all
Dead though the house of it seems."
(Repeat ad lib.)

Friends can now express their farewells ad lib.

HPs:"In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
The Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell."*

Silence for a few moments.

HPs: There is a reason for being here in this world and this life.
There is a reason for leaving, when the purposes of this life are done.
As the evergreen grows and prospers both in summer and in winter, year after year,
So also does the soul continue from life to life to life...
Growing ever stronger, wiser, and richer.

All: May the servants of the gods escort you with honor to their own land of light, of beauty, and of joy.

HPs: Blessed Be!

All: Blessed Be!

HPs: Lady and Lord, we thank you for being with us. Remain with Richard through his time here on this earth, and through his transition into your lovely realms. Blessed Be!

All: Blessed Be!

HPs: Guardians of the Watchtowers, we thank you for being with us. Remain with Richard through his time here on this earth, and through his transition into your lovely realms. Blessed Be!

All: Blessed Be!

HPs: The circle is open, but unbroken. May the Peace of the Goddess go in our hearts. Merry Meet, and Merry Part.

All: And Merry Meet again!

HPs: Blessed Be!

All: Blessed Be!


*This is from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, part 3, The Return of the King. I am not sure of the origin of the other chants. It really did the trick for Richard, and for Jimmy...


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