Death Rites

At the time of death the Anam Chara shall stay with the dying person. The Anam Chara shall be well known to the dying one or a person who has a soul mission to help the dying. When possible harp music shall be played for the dying as it eases pain and brings spiritual comfort.

When the death rattle begins let three drops of water be placed on the tongue or the lips of the dying one by the Anam Chara saying;

“Go easy to the land of the ancestors. Let the waters carry you across to the Blessed Isles where your family and loved ones await”.

Burial Rites

The burial shall be accompanied by well chosen articles associated with the life of the deceased. A favorite torque, a mantle, golden jewelry, drinking horns, magical wands and staffs, boughs of oak and sprays of mistletoe and any other precious object the deceased might have chosen or that is chosen lovingly by others.

A hole shall be dug and stones brought from near or far and placed near the grave. The body shall be placed on a stretcher or a bier and carried to the location of the earthen hole. It shall be dressed in fine clothing or covered in fine cloths and sacred herbs and flowers.

The people shall visit the body for a day, praying, singing, telling stories and praises of the deceased until nightfall. At night the Druids and those of the kin group who wish to remain in vigil shall sit with the body until dawn. During the night the Druids shall listen and watch for messages from the deceased for it is known that the spirit often remains with the body, even after death.

At dawn, at the time of the rising of the birds, the Druids and kin shall lovingly place the body in the grave. A Bard or a poet shall sing these words or any song or poem from ancient tradition;

“Come spirits across the ocean
join with your brother/sister who waits here
Take him/her across to the bright land
Take her/him across moor and meadow
Take her/him across a calm sea
Take her/him across a blissful ocean
Peace and joy on the day of her/his death
As He/she finds her/his way to the white sun”.

And then shall every person present begin to cover the body with soil, a handful or a shovelful at a time. And then shall a cairn be lifted from the collected stones, over the body of the deceased. And let every stone be placed with a prayer for the well being of the deceased, for their family and kin and for their spiritual family. Or in place of the cairn or beside it let there be planted a tree in memory of the deceased. And all care shall be taken to ensure the tree’s survival. Afterwards let a great feast be prepared with music and celebration and stories of the deceased and praise of their accomplishments.


In researching ancient Egyptian embalming methods and herbs used the following were included. We know that there was much sea traffic from the Mediterranean up the coast of Iberia and Armorica, to Alba and on to Eire. It is not outrageous to think that Druids might have been aware of this knowledge;

Myrrh, Sandalwood, Attar of Roses, Cedar, Salt, Cinnamon, Frankinsence, Ladanum, Saffron, Orris (Iris) root, Storax, Gum mastic.

These herbs would have been used in embalming mixtures and to wash body cavities. I suggest that they be incorporated into a dusting powder or a wash for the corpse.

Copyright 1999, Ellen Evert Hopman