Pagan Last Rites

How to prepare for moving into the next life

I am ordained Wiccan Priestess, in the Correllian Tradition (based in the US) since 2004. I was a part of an active real life wiccan Temple, so my studies and training were done in the real world, rather than solo online study. For me, that worked the best and I was lucky to have access to it. It also was great for learning to work with group energies both in and out of ritual space. All in all, it was a great experience. But like all good things, it had to come to an end and since then, I have held rituals, workshops and activities as a sole practitioner. This love of ritual and ceremony is one of the main reasons I became a celebrant. None of the ceremonies and rituals I write and conduct are meaningless - to me, to my clients, to their friends or family.

In many religions around the world, priests, clergy, elders or even family members perform some aspect of last rites for the dying. They do it for different reasons, and I am not going to speculate about or judge those reasons. Pagan clergy, especially in the US are far more active in the areas of religious support services than we are able to offer here in Australia. But the call is there, and so the service is offered to anyone who would like that option.

Pagan folk do have the availability of Last Rites. In my experience, the reasons behind holding a Last Rites ritual or ceremony differs from what is practiced elsewhere. Rather than it being about fear, in being concerned for the soul and where it will journey to, the feeling is more about giving thanks and purification of the body.

In the Rites that I have written and conducted, with family and loved ones in attendance, the focus has been on the love that is felt for the person who is dying or has died. We give thanks to the body that carried them on their lifes' journey, no matter how long or how short that may have been.

In some way, our body returns to the earth: Whether through cremation, burial or other means. So we purify the body, by washing it down, using essential oils or salt water. Using incense, the body is smudged. There are prayers and blessings that can be said, or something written by loved ones are just as good.

This is an example of a Last Rites ritual that can be done prior to the funeral. The funeral itself may also include this piece, or something similar.

Last Rites ritual (PreFuneral Ceremony)

  • * Light incense block & smudgestick
  • * Cleanse with water and salt & Rosemary sprigs
  • * Smudge with air and fire

Casting Circle - Creating sacred space.
Now comes the time to cast the circle round
Those who loved .............. gathered on this ground
Which now be separate from normal space
Becoming for all here a sacred place
The circle is cast with love
So below as is above
Within shall comfort shared pain
This circle cast as we honour Her name
Once this funeral ceremony is done
All energies I ask return from whence you come.
The circle is cast.

Calling the Elements
Light West Candle:
Guardians of the West, Spirits of Water, who rejoiced in the loving heart of our beloved, join us in our remembrance and release of ..........
Light South Candle
Guardians of the North, Spirits of Fire, who rejoiced in the brightness of the spirit of our beloved, join us now in our remembrance and release of ............
Light East Candle
Guardians of the East, Spirits of Air, who rejoiced in the quick mind and creativity of our Beloved, join us in our remembrance and release of ............
Light North Candle
Guardians of the South, Spirits of Earth, grains of our Mother, join us in remembrance and release of ............
Light Goddess candle, saying:
Goddess, spiritual mother of ............ join us with thy loving light as we remember and release our beloved.
Light God candle, saying:
God, spiritual father of ............ join us with thy loving light as we remember and release our beloved.
Light Ancestor candle, saying:
I call to the ancestors of all, join us and welcome ............'s arrival in the Hall of the Ancestors.

Lighting Deceased's candle
(Lit by closest loved one, this person is not required to read the following as I will do it, although they may do so if they wish)
Be free, be strong, be proud of who you have been, know that
you will be mourned and missed, that no one can replace
you, that you have loved and are beloved.
Move beyond form, flowing like water, feeding on sunlight
and moonlight, radiant as the stars in the night sky. Pass
the gates, enter the dark without fear, returning to the
womb of life to steep in the cauldron of rebirth. Rest, heal
grow young again. Be blessed.

Blessing of the Elements
Smudge with sage or charcoal block
May the air carry your spirit gently and may fire release your soul.
Sprinkle with salted water using rosemary sprigs
May the water cleanse you and wash you clean of pain and sorrow and suffering. May the earth receive you back into Her loving embrace.
Trace pentagram(or another pertinent symbol) on forehead and chest with oil
May the wheel turn again and bring you to rebirth.

Prayer for Burial
(Can also be said at graveside committal)
Beloved one,
we give your body to the earth.
Earth Mother, Root Mother,
Father of soil,
we give you this body
of our beloved ......
These eyes will never greet us again
We will not kiss these lips
or touch these hands
or hear her voice speak our names
But we give thanks for who s/he has been.

S/he has now has passed the gate,
leaving this body to become soil,
this flesh to nurture flowers,
these bones to be roots of trees.

As we commit her/his body, may she forever
-Blessed Be.
* Candles remain lit throughout viewing and funeral

For Information regarding Pagan/Wiccan Last rites, Rituals or separate memorials, ideas, information and readings, please click one of the links below.

Funeral Information


Back to Funeral Ceremonies Page.

Funeral Information

When Death Comes Calling.

Funeral Readings

Some ideas to get others involved in remembering your loved one by reading a special passage.

Memorial Rituals & Ceremonies

Ideas on how to celebrate the life of the one who has passed.