Pagan Transitions™ “Death is but a doorway...... “ Taliesen Pagan Transitions 2004-2015 Copyright ©Pagan Transitions 2004-2019 HOME Heathen (Asatru/Odinist/Northern Traditions)  Beliefs and Ceremony information written by Pippah AUK Kin


It is a very important thing for Heathens for the dead to be sent off properly. In ancient times family members would worry that without an appropriate funeral the soul would wander the afterlife aimlessly, or even come back to haunt the living as a Draugr, or Revenent. They were to be sent off as they were in life, so they retained their sense of self and worth in the afterlife. To this end, certain customs are to be observed; 

The Heathen faiths are very focused on deeds of individuals; creating a living memory that can be passed down to their descendants. As such, the religions funeral customs involve remembering the deeds of the deceased, and retelling fond memories.  This is the very core of Heathen funerals; the creation of everlasting memories. The Ghothi is very much the master of ceremony to lead the attendees in bringing these memories out.  


A more familiar word may be priest/priestess, to describe the role of this person. Most Heathen Hearths have at least one Ghothi/Gytha amongst their number to serve in a spiritual advisory capacity, master of ceremonies, and in some instances and 'elder' role. 


For Heathens, cremation by pyre is the preferred option. It is stated in the saga's by Odin in the Ynglinga saga 

"Thus he (Odin) established by law that all dead men should be burned, and their belongings laid with them upon the pile, and the ashes be cast into the sea or buried in the earth. Thus, said he, every one will come to Valhalla with the riches he had with him upon the pile; and he would also enjoy whatever he himself had buried in the earth. For men of consequence a mound should be raised to their memory, and for all other warriors who had been distinguished for manhood a standing stone; which custom remained long after Odin's time." 

In this day and age however, both are used, and modern laws must be observed as to how, and when. In both cases, the deceased are buried with grave goods special to them; such as weapons, tools, food, jewellery and art. Funeral flowers may also be arranged, herbs burned, or (venue allowing) a bonfire lit. The deceased's wishes are carried out by the family members and loved ones, officiated by the Ghothi 

One of the main symbols of the Asatru faith is burned with the body at every funeral. The main one will be the Thors-hammer; Mjolnir, which is widely identified as the symbol of Heathenism across the world. The other option would be the symbol of Odin; the Valknut 

Music is also a prominent feature of services, and both modern or traditional songs can be chosen. The deceased favourite musical pieces are often included in the service, which lasts anywhere between 30-90 minutes. 


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