Death is pretty much a part of Life and it does seem, the older you get, the more dates with Death to expect of loved ones and friends departing this plane of existence, or be there for friends and loved ones who lost someone dear to them. Living in Ireland, it does mean that the majority of funerals would be held from a catholic template: It is the family that is left behind that organizes the last respect and as such, one would see very few pagan or humanist ceremonies in Ireland. They do happen, but they are rare.
As a wiccan I do not feel much connection with catholic mass, I feel quite out of place at them and my personal experiences has led me to avoid catholicism as much as possible. On the other hand, when someone you know passes away and you want to support those who are left behind, I’m not an asshat enough not to show because I have an issue with catholicism; I get over myself.
My partner and myself always make absolutely clear that we are wiccans and for some reason that always ends up being invited to take part of play a role in mass. I could point blankly refuse to partake in a ritual i feel no connection to, but then again, I did show up as showing my support and raising a stink over it would be just bad taste, but I do frown over the fact that it seems that these tasks are thrusted upon declared non-believers, while it would be just a bit nicer to ask if we would be comfortable doing such task. Perhaps being spoiled in a wiccan setting where before ritual everybody knows what is expected before hand and everybody does that what is comfortable with them, or at least prior consent. Maybe it was some sort of kindness to try include us, as we certainly would not come up for communion, but it would have been nice to have been asked if we wanted to partake in the mass ritual
To make a long story short, my partner and myself we expected to carry up the offerings, preluding the communion. So there is my partner and me, walking up the aisle, my partner carrying the hosties and I carry the wine. As an Alexandrian priest, ritual significance is not wasted on me and as a witch, being able to improvise impromptu, I found myself mumbling under my breath and invoke the Guardian of the Western portal, Lord of Life, Death, rebirth and initiation (personified in my personal work as the Sumerian god Enki) and project the energy into the wine and water I am carrying. My partner sensing immediately what I am doing casts me a smile while we hand over the offerings to the priest. For me, as a Wiccan, I like to have my own gods stand by me and not having to consume them.
We return to our seats and I watch with interest on how the priest proceeds with the bread and wine. Surely my energizing was without malignity, but I am just curious to see if the priest is doing anything like a purification or banishment before he turns said wine and bread into the body of Christ. To me and my partner, my energy work remained and gets distributed among the faithful. We are all happy enough to share.
Both me and my partner have a sense of glee and the flock munches away, but fair enough, we were put to the task to participate and fair warning given, we are wiccans. The one thing that does annoy me most during these funeral masses is the ongoing waffle about lost sheep returning to the flock and the priest is giving to many looks in the way of my partner and myself. We did come to partake in saying goodbye to a friend and a loved one and support. If we would have interest in “returning to the flock” we would be adult enough to seek a different event than a funeral, but I guess it is part of the priest job to fish for lost souls. I just wished that in case of a funeral, perhaps be a little less zealous in saving lost souls and more focussed of the service that is needed towards the deceased and their family and friends would be in order.
Thankfully these sort of things do not take that long and to me, the real wake begins. It’s funny when speaking about the mass with some of the believer flock, the consensus seems to be it is something just to get through and that the real ritual of consolation is after the mass, everyone gathered with food and drink and progressively being more fervent in sharing fond memories until everyone is roaringly drunk. It is at that point where I, as a wiccan feel completely comfortable as all religious differences fall away to the basest of tribal ritual. We certainly had the feeling that the deceased would have approved.