He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality. --Emily Dickinson
So a thing happened the other day that I was not expecting, and it put me off guard, and it seemed one of those out there WOO things that anti-theists and others use to put down Paganism. Looking back, though, it shouldn’t have surprised me.
I’ve been called to set up a shrine for Death.
Now, I am aware–as someone else pointed out–that Death comes in many forms. There are many gods and goddesses who embody different aspects of death, or hold dominion over some aspect of death. This isn’t what I mean, though. I’m not called to another deity. I’m called to do some deep personal shadow work, and perhaps some cultural shadow work, with the Grim Reaper, the concept of Death that embodies all we fear about Death. A cloaked, mysterious and unknowable figure with scythe in hand, that comes for us all. Implacable. Indiscriminate. Death in purest form, that comes for kings and commoners, for the young as well as the old.
I’ve been interested in topics surrounding death for a while now. My plans for my golden years involve becoming a Pagan chaplain. I recently graduated with a Bachelor degree in Psychology, and wanted to take the class on Death and Dying for my psych elective (I couldn’t, because the class hasn’t actually been offered for a decade, boooo). I am concerned with the need for Pagan death rituals and liturgy. I am concerned with what will happen to my body when I die, and that it be handled in a way according to my needs as a Pagan, and not my family’s Christian needs. And I definitely no interest in a Baptist funeral like the rest of my family, where the concern is less with celebrating the life of the deceased, and more about PR for Baptist Christianity. I am interested in integrating an awareness and true respect for death into every day life, and in healthy methods of grieving.
So, suddenly, my brain put all this together and said to me, “Setting up a shrine wto Death would help with this.”
I don’t actually have room for a shrine to Death right now. But I’m already designing it in my head. And, not-so-strangely for a Pagan, I already have some of the materials, things I never knew why I wanted them, but will now find good use.
Chaos Paganism rolls onward!