I wasn’t sure how to title this, so I’m hoping that subject line is enough!
Anyway, this question was spurred on by a dream I had last night, and it brought me to wondering how certain deceased people may feel about others trying to honor them with a religion they were outright against or iffy about. Bear with me, this is a little bit longwinded, but I feel like I need to explain how I started thinking about this, since it’s not normally something I would worry about.
A few nights ago my uncle died. I’m not broken up about it, since I wasn’t close to him or my aunt (who is still living) at all. They’re technically my step-aunt and step-uncle via my grandfather re-marrying very late in life. I only saw them occasionally at church growing up and sometimes they’d be invited to family gatherings, but I hadn’t seen my uncle in several years due to his Alzheimer’s. Last time I saw him, he introduced himself to me with his full name, so there was no point.
Despite my relative detachment from the whole situation, I had a dream last night where I was trying to do a little memorial offering of my own design for my uncle. I had a large ceramic planter filled with soil, and dumped a bunch of runes in it- not just rune stones, but the runes themselves. Mixed in with those was something else but I can’t remember what exactly, since it wasn’t as important.
I was going to present this at his wake, believing that his spirit would come into the planter and cause something to grow. Slowly, and with a few odd looks from people around me, I realized that this might not be the greatest idea. My uncle, like his wife, was steadfastly Christian, and if he was anything like my aunt (who I know a little better) he’d have had trouble accepting other Abrahamic religions besides Judaism and Christianity, let alone pagan religion. He spirit would be offended, I thought, and would reject my little ritual. I scrambled to try to pull the runes out, but felt as though that would be ruining the spell in my offering. Yet I had nothing to give from a Christian standpoint, since I wasn’t one.
In the waking world, I hadn’t really stressed much about this kind of thing except in that I don’t normally call upon my Christian ancestors (especially the Puritans) since I feel they’d be offended or disappointed in me. After having this dream, I feel like it would be a bit different with someone I know personally. Their spirit could be upset with me specifically, and their feelings about me could change even after death, and even if they’re gone from this world, that would upset me.
So, what do you all think about that kind of thing? Would it be more respectful just not to use a pagan ritual to honor a deceased person who holds strong views against it? Even if the intent is what counts, what about the wishes of the deceased? And you can replace paganism with any religion you like, the question would still be the same.
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