Funeral Customs Throughout History

catholic book of the deadWhen Pluto first entered my 12th house by transit, I found very little written about this transit. I decided to fill the void by making a point of writing about it.  You can access these posts here – tag – Pluto transit 12th.

Right now,  I have Pluto in Capricorn (Saturn) transiting my 12th (Neptune). I simultaneously have Saturn transits my natal Neptune in Scorpio (Pluto).  It’s no surprise I’ve become very interested in death and dying from a spiritual perspective.

I was fortunate to come across the Catholic Book of the Dead.  This is from the book description:

“Join author Ann Ball as she explores ways we have tried to explain and cope with death throughout history. Discover how Roman and Hebrew funeral customs influenced early Christian rites; how the Middle Ages and the “Black Death” gave rise to customs we maintain today; and how the Protestant Reformation helped shape our modern funeral practices.   Explore how different cultures view death – from an Irish wake to a Japanese Catholic funeral, from Mexican ceremonies to Native American Catholicism and tribal beliefs…”

CommunionOfSaints-FraAngelico1395-1455Rather than religion, the book is focused on how death has been treated ’round the world, throughout history. It’s inordinately interesting.

I’ve enjoyed reading about individuals or groups of individuals who died many centuries ago. It’s fascinating to learn how families and societies dealt with death throughout the ages.  What laws were passed that altered funeral practices? Why were the laws passed?  What trends developed…and then faded away?  It’s a powerful lens through which you can view life in the modern day.

If you immerse yourself in something, it’s bound to impact you. This is particularly true if you’re as permeable as I am. I am seeing the boundary (Capricorn) between the living and dead (Pluto) dissolve (12th), as I become more and more interested in things like the Communion of the Saints.

I have never been afraid of dying. I have never known why I don’t fear death, but I am starting to get an inkling.

15 thoughts on “Funeral Customs Throughout History”

  1. This post gave me goosebumps, in a good way.

    I have always been fascinated by this topic, and, more broadly, the purpose of rituals in cultures.

    Most are quite beautiful. I am very proud to say there was much laughter at my mom’s calling hours…and yes, she was fifteen minutes late. As predicted.

  2. hey elsa, i’m fascinated by what’s hidden in all of us. gifts we are unaware of and those we hide. you my dear are a very gifted woman and i would guess you’re on a path of elsa’s hidden knowledge. capricorn, later in life, maybe a grandparent had a gift too. you’re an ace astrologer, one of the best in my book, but you go beyond what astrology can do and i don’t know if you’re even aware of it. maybe you’ve been hiding it, what was that saying about hiding a light under a basket? 🙂

  3. I have had a similar wonder to you Elsa. I am a Capri Rising and Taurus sun with Sagi moon. I have Pluto in my 1st house. I did not fear death until now since I am pregnant and I want to be alive to see my baby. I am very cautious now of my health, actions, and what I do to take care of myself. My baby will be my reason to live and I am so excited to see my baby in 8 months!

  4. One more thing, I think that even though we are alive, we can still be dead. In tough times, when we are beaten up so much by circumstances, I feel like I am a zombie walking and talking due to lack of happiness and energy. So you can be alive but dead.

  5. This is so interesting, and I realize I haven’t read much about this transit, either. What an interesting take on it.

    I’m a strongly Twelfth House person, for better or worse (I have often thought, worse, but am reconsidering) and I often get confused about who is living and who is dead, who is here and not here — it often feels to me that there is only the faintest difference. Like, for instance — there’s no e-mail, but you don’t need it because you can just talk to them. 🙂

  6. Yes, so many people are becoming interested in death and dying these days, possibly because of Saturn in Scorpio. I too have been immersed in it since my father passed away and I spent so much time in hospice watching so many people pass away. Plus, many of us natally have Neptune in Scorpio, so we’re all being hit with this energy right now. I also have Mars in Pisces in the 8th and have been focusing a lot of mediumship and how to contact the other side. I’ve had lots of sign from my father, and even some ‘internal hearing’ as well. I’m taking a mediumship seminar on my birthday next month, so guess where all my Aries energy is going! The ruler of my Aries Sun is Mars in the 8th!!!!

  7. Right now I’m reading ‘The Final Frontier’ by Julia Assante. Best book I’ve read to date all about what really happens after you die, (and I’ve read all of them) how to contact the departed etc.. She’s also very historical and talks about the different religions, as well as timelines and time looping and deja vu. Fascinating.

  8. Pluto was transiting my 12th house when my dad died. I was his primary caretaker and hospice came to help. They handed my brothers and me a handout of what would happen in the dying process. Some of it was quite strange but it all came true. Pointing at the wall. Talking to who knows nobody’s there. Saying he “had to go!” with such urgency and we race to the bathroom and he didn’t have to go. He was ready to GO.
    Now Pluto is just entering my natal 1st house. Who knows what will happen. As my dad used to say, “Nobody knows but booger nose!”

  9. Every now and again I get the inkling I’m going to die. Oh no, are the dishes done, is the bed made. Is my desk in order. Crap I don’t have a will. Should I have a garage sale and sell everything?

    As I’ve come to realize that it’s pretty much about learning self acceptance for me in this lifetime, I’ve learned over time that it usually means I am about to drop a big bunch of rot from myself. But it still catches me by surprise sometimes.

    From my experience, death either comes fast and catches the person unawares or the lingering ill or elderly person is ready to go.

    The dying process is a trip EarthDog. Was primary caregiver for my parents. My mom was so funny. Partly her dimentia. She knew she was going, so I had to get out suitcases and boxes so she could pack. When she got tired from all that activity she would sleep. And I’d unpack everything and put it away.

  10. Hi, I’m going through Pluto transiting my 12th for several years now, but I feel as if the effects described began several years before that. As I’ve begun following Pluto transits in my friends charts and lives it seems that the effects of Pluto transiting a house begin a few years before the transit oftentimes. There’s no info about this that I can find on the net. What do you think?

  11. Not sure that 12th house is symbolic of death. Always thought it was the province of the 8th house and the domain of Saturn… Interesting to ponder your opinions nonetheless.

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