A Rite of Passing West
In many traditions across the world, from ancient Egypt to modern Witchcraft, the West is often associated with death. The ancient peoples of Ireland, Wales, and Gaul, too, associated the Land of the Dead with the West, or sometimes specifically, a land west of today’s United Kingdom. As the direction where the sun sets each day to end one cycle before beginning a new one, perhaps it’s not surprising that different cultures continents apart might come to see the West as symbolic of death and so it is after these common threads that I take the name of this rite.
A rite that, sadly, has become increasingly necessary over the last, difficult year. Friends have lost loved ones to more tragedy than I care to count and while looking for an easily-accessible, public, and Pagan-ish friendly ritual a friend could use to mark their own friend’s passing, I was finding a great number that were either too tradition specific or full-blown funeral rites, none of which were suitable for my friend’s needs. As such, I have written this rite to be simple and, I hope, helpful for those grieving.
- A representation of the deceased. This can be a picture but at minimum their name stylized with care on a piece of paper.
- A candle, preferably white.
- Incense. If you know their favorite scent, use that. Else, anything you think they would find pleasing. Absent any specific preferences, frankincense and myrrh are always great choices.
- A glass of cool water.
Rubric and Script
Set the above items at a table in the West.
Prepare yourself properly in your normal way (e.g., center, ritual cleansing, etc, whatever you usually do).
Light the candle. Take it to the North and raise it above your head. Do the same for the East, South, and West, where you should set it back down.
“I leave this candle in the West, the place of rest and peace, for you, [Deceased’s Name]. Its light shall burn doubly bright at your journey’s end in the Blesséd Realms of the Dead. May it be a beacon in the darkness and may it guide you safely from any corner of the Underworld, [Deceased’s Name].”
Invocation of any Gods or Spirits with Whom you already have a relationship, including your own personal Ancestors.
“[Gods, Spirits, Ancestors], I ask you to hear me: A loved one, [Deceased’s name], has left this World and begun their journey West. I ask for Your aid and power to safeguard [Deceased’s name]’s journey.
Guide [Deceased’s name] to the Blesséd Realms of the Dead safely. Protect [Deceased’s name] as you would protect your own. Offer [Deceased’s name] comfort and wisdom as you would offer comfort and wisdom to your own. For [Deceased’s name] is a worthy soul learning the Last and Greatest Mystery.”
Light the incense and raise the water high with a light bow of your chin. Then set the water back down.
“[Gods, Spirits, Ancestors], I offer these gifts as thanks for your guidance and wisdom. May they sate and please.”
Close your eyes and listen, should your spirits choose to share any messages with you.
Let the incense and candle burn out.
Let the water sit until sunrise.