Pet Burial Rite
Pet Burial Rite
I once conducted a funeral rite for a friend's pet bird. It was done in simplified ADF style. I had a bird shaped candle holder which I brought as the central light of the ceremony. I told my friend that we would burn part of the candle during the rite and that as long as the candle was lit, the spirit of the bird would be with us. When it came time to bid the bird goodbye, she would say her farewell and blow out the candle. By this, she would release the spirit to go on its own way, unencumbered by the owner's desires. However, every time she lit that candle, the animal's spirit would return for a while. She could enjoy its presence and speak to it while it stayed, until the candle was extinguished. Once the candle was totally burned, then the bird and owner would be completely free of all bonds but love.
Consecration of Time
9 bell rings, in sets of three.
Consecration of Space & Participants
Censing of the place, smudging the people and asperging both.
Consecration of Intent
We are friends of [owner's name] and here to help,
The spirit of [pet's name] reach Summerland.
Release the grief and sooothe the soul,
In memoy of a worthy life.
Three pennies thrown outside to appease restless spirits.
Outsiders, you who will not help us
Take these (throw) and leave us in peace!
Opening the Gates
Singing to Heimdall & Mothgud to open the gates, then explaining to them that we wish for the pet's spirit to return, for as long as the central candle burns. Owner lights the candle.
We invite you Heimdall, opener of fiery gate
We invite you Mothgud, opener of icy gate
You will reach us, you will teach us and reveal our fate
You will reach us you will teach us and reveal our fate
(Note: in Norse beliefs, Heimdall is the guardian of the rainbow bridge to the realm of the gods & goddesses, while Mothgud is a female giant who guards the ice bridge to the underworld realm of the dead)
Sumbel (Minnehorn): Horn of Memory
Using organic apple juice as a ritual drink, we passed the drinking horn around the circle, each one talking, taking a gulp and passing the horn. Each would talk about a a memory they had of the pet ("I remember hearing her laughing cries from the other end of the phone and thinking 'what a cheerful bird'"), make a toast to a quality of the pet or its species ("I drink to the freedom that birds and flying have meant to humans"), make a blessing ("Fly free little one. May your wings carry you to a wonderful place"), or anything else that seems appropriate.
Farewell to the Spirit
The owner is asked to speak directly to the pet's spirit, saying everything s/he feels must be said before a final separation. These goodbyes are very intense. When all has been said, the owner must extinguish the candle so that the spirit is released. And the decision must come from the owner, it cannot be rushed. This can take a while, but it allows emotions to be sorted and released.
Closing the Gates
Thank the gatekeepers and ask them to close the gates, sending the pet's spirit on its way to the proper destination.
Final Blessing & Clearcut Ending
May the ways you walk
Bring you again to those you love
And may the cherished past
Never blind you to new loves.
There is a funeral chant that I shared during that sumbel. It came to me years before when I said goodbye to my cat. She was my companion from age 2 to age 19, a siameese named Moustache. I knew she was dying, and I am grateful I had a chance to sing my love to her while she still lived. I cried as I sang and caressed her. If you want me to teach it to you, email me and we'll arrange for a time whan you can call me. Be warned, it brings out all the sadness. My condoleances on the passage of your friend.
Ritual and Practice