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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Officiating At A Crossing Over Ceremony
Article ID: 13348
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lady GoldenRaven
Posted: September 20th. 2009
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For those ordained clergy who perform crossing over rituals, have you thought about how to handle everything this entails? The vast majority of people who attend either hand fasts or crossing over rituals have no clue what will be happening. Most come from basic Christian upbringing and have stayed on that path.
Hand fasts are happy and exciting times and it is a much more relaxed situation, so it is easier to explain the ritual itself, the meaning behind calling quarters, etc. Crossing Over rituals, however, are much more complicated.
One must deal with not only counseling the grieving family who are pagan and have requested this service, but you must handle the grieving of those of the Christian faith. This makes it harder for them to comprehend any explanations given them.
Calling on the Crone or the Dark God and to travel through the Cauldron of Rebirth
Some will not be able to comprehend the truth behind our ritual. Some may get angry, still under the “influence” that we are performing some dark and evil ritual that can only have sinister complications.
They may also worry about the departed one’s soul. One must be skilled in the art of speech manipulation. You can say the same thing in many different ways and get the reaction you want. You have to feel out the person you are speaking to and figure out which explanation would work best in this situation.
While we understand the concept of reincarnation as well as the non-belief in a heaven or hell, others cannot grasp this concept. Others still think it is the work of the devil.
During The Service
Most people will not make waves during the service itself. However, it has happened. How does one deal with someone who may not only be in the anger stage of dealing with death, but one who cannot accept the pagan way?
Usually the family members will deal with this person. However, everyone present will be looking to see how the High Priestess/Priest deals with a potentially explosive situation. Above all, you must remain calm.
Also, this is not the time to engage the person in a “holy war”. Let the people know you understand the point they are trying to make and let them know you are available to speak to them to explain things in detail if so desired at another more appropriate time. Ask that they respect the wishes of the departed and his/her family and say you would be happy to speak with them after the service.
Whatever words you choose, choose wisely, as you will not only be looked upon as a leader by the pagans, but the non pagans will be watching closely. Do not give them any reason to doubt our role or the role of paganism.
When I am directing the service, I include all forms of paganism, Druidism, Wiccan, etc. into one group I call ‘Pagans’. To try to differentiate between pagan/heathen to those of the Christian religion is fruitless. Most do not view it as different denominations, paths, traditions, or whatever other name you give them. All they see is it is NOT a Christian service.
You may stand alone in front of the mourners and their families and friends. However, you are not alone. You are seen as a representative for all pagans. Represent us all proudly. In a way, you are a performer on stage with all the critics there watching and whether or not your show is cancelled depends on them.
Make sure to have a business card or other credentials on hand to show those who question your authority and right to perform this service. Also, you should APPEAR professional. This is not the time to play dress up and look like the stereotypical wytch all dressed in black with pointy hat.
One hint: Do NOT wear perfume or cologne. Most people overdo it to begin with, but regardless, odors are five times more potent when tears are shed. There are also people with allergies.
It is also wise to have your ritual in some type of binder or book. Showing up with the ritual jotted on paper napkins or ripped-out notebook papers does not show either professionalism or pride in your chosen path or yourself.
I also recommend carrying tissues. Even though most funeral homes supply tons of them, it is usually when you are sitting around speaking with someone one on one that he/she will begin to cry and need a tissue. You don’t want to break the connection to run to the nearest table to get any.
Make sure you spread yourself around. Be there to support whomever comes to you for your strength, wisdom, and comfort. Sometimes words do not come easy; there are times when words are not needed. So whether it is listening to someone without speaking or simply giving him or her a hug, be sure to be there. You may be surprised at how many of the Christians will seek you out for comfort and wise words.
Family and Friends
If you knew the deceased, it is okay to show some emotion in front of the masses of people, but don’t overdo it. Save pouring your heart out for after the ritual. If need be, take some time prior to the service to ground yourself and ask the Goddess to give you the strength to carry on and the wisdom to say and do the right things.
Those closest to the deceased (especially pagans whom you may have been close to in the same coven or what have you) will also understand that you cared for this person and that you are human. Make sure you allow ample time for anyone wishing to stand up and speak of the departed.
If you did not know this person except for being called upon to perform the ritual, take time to find out some personal things from the family so that you can personalize some of the ritual itself and also to let it be known you do care about the departed and their family.
If you knew the deceased, feel free to add words when the time is right, but keep in mind what may seem like a funny story to you may not be to others. Keep any of those embarrassingly funny stories between your ears.
After The Service
The ending of the ritual can be just as important as the beginning. People judge by first and last impressions. Stand at the doorway or end of pathway and greet all who will be leaving for home. Always give them the blessing of the Ancients in whichever way is appropriate.
The immediate family will be the last to leave. Make sure their needs are fulfilled before taking your leave. Assure them you are available for them in the future, both near and distant, to counsel, listen, guide, and comfort them.
Finally, speak to the director of the funeral home and discuss any pertinent topics.
For yourself, remember to ground yourself both before and after the occasion. Take a cleansing bath to wash away the sadness and negativity. Give thanks to the Ancient Ones, whichever Ones you may follow and thank them for giving you the strength, courage, and wisdom to be able to handle the job to the best of your abilities. Thank them for your good health as well.
And with that, I wish you all Good health and Blessed Be!
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