The Sevenfold Blessing: A Funerary Rite

Wooden Late Period statue of Nebet-Het in the "Inside Ancient Egypt" exhibit at the Field Museum.

Wooden Late Period statue of Nebet-Het in the “Inside Ancient Egypt” exhibit at the Field Museum.

 

What kind of a priestess of the goddess Nebet-Het would I be if I didn’t blog about funerary things? With Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio–soon to be joined by a stellium of planets in that Plutonian sign–there’s no more appropriate time than the present to share one funerary ritual I’ve co-facilitated more than once. For members of the same family, sadly enough.

In 2009, our Chicago Fellowship of Isis (FOI) Lyceum of Alexandria Priestess-Hierophant at the time, Rev. Deena Butta, lost her middle son Maris, a gifted 21-year-old active duty member of the Air Force. It wasn’t an accidental death; he took his own life in a very public place in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 26. No mother should ever have to bury her young son, especially when his suicide came as a complete shock to everyone. No signs of depression or other forewarnings. No note left behind–zero explanations. Just surveillance footage from cameras on the premises documenting the method of Maris’ suicide. Could anything be more horrible for a parent to endure?

But Deena, indomitably strong, shouldered this tragedy as best she could, and devised the following funerary rite for Maris, one that commingles her love of Native American spirituality with her Polish Catholic Christian background, so that everyone, Pagan or Christian, who attended Maris’ military funeral that day could spiritually resonate with the rite. A 21-gun salute with “Taps” followed what Deena named “The Sevenfold Blessing”; I remember unabashedly choking on my tears then. It hurts to think about now, especially as the anniversary of Maris’ death draws near once again. I have a framed photo of him on my ancestor altar.

Adjacent to Deena’s photo. A little over three years after her son’s death, Deena lost her battle to Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, which killed her within 8 weeks of her having been diagnosed with it. And so my sorrowful sisters and brothers in the Chicago FOI came together to plan Deena’s funeral. Once again, “The Sevenfold Blessing” became the focal funerary ritual in the cemetery, only this second time the cremated remains of the mother were interred next to her son.

I know Deena would have wanted to have had this transmitted to people outside of the Chicago FOI community or the Chicago Pagan community in general, which is why I’m posting it here. Feel free to adapt it to your own funerary observances, but please cite Rev. Deena Butta as its author. Before I record it, I just want to honor the legacies and memories of Deena and Maris Butta with this Early Dynasty ancient Egyptian prayer from the Pyramid Texts. It’s a recitation by the deceased to my patron goddess, Nebet-Het, She Who Greets the Dead Upon Their Arrival into the Duat (the Underworld):

I have come to You, Nebet-Het,

I have come to You, Night-Boat,

I have come to You, True Before the Red,

I have come to You, Birth-Brick of Souls.

Remember me.

Gone is Orion, caught by the Underworld,

Yet cleansed and alive in the Beyond;

Gone is Sothis, caught by the Underworld,

Yet cleansed and alive in the Beyond;

Gone am I, caught by the Underworld,

Yet cleansed and alive in the Beyond.

It is well with me and with You

It is peaceful for me and for You,

Within the arms of Our Father,

Within the arms of Atum.


The Sevenfold Blessing

Priest/ess:

We will now bless and purify this space with four sacred herbs: sage, sweetgrass, cedar and bear root.

 

Caller of East:

May this sacred smoke cleanse and free [NAME OF DECEASED]’s mind. May s/he enter Heaven in peace and freedom. [Caller walks clockwise around casket or urn of cremated remains, smudging with sage.]

 

Caller of South:

May this sacred smoke cleanse and free [NAME OF DECEASED]’s spirit. May s/he enter Heaven in peace and freedom. [Caller walks clockwise around casket or urn of cremated remains, smudging with sweetgrass.]

 

Caller of West:

May this sacred smoke cleanse and free [NAME OF DECEASED]’s soul. May s/he enter Heaven in peace and freedom. [Caller walks clockwise around casket or urn of cremated remains, smudging with cedar.]

 

Caller of North:

May this sacred smoke cleanse and free [NAME OF DECEASED]’s body. May s/he enter Heaven in peace and freedom. [Caller walks clockwise around casket or urn of cremated remains, smudging with bear root.]

 

Priest/ess:

GREAT SPIRIT, OUR CREATOR, You give us the gift of life and the grace to praise you. Open our hearts that we may welcome your Spirit anew in our life. Teach us your wisdom and pour into us your gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Caller of East:

We look to the EAST, the place where the new Sun rises each morning. This is the direction of hope and of new beginnings. Look down on us from the East, Creator, and pour your Spirit upon us so that we may renew our lives. Almighty God, fill and surround the soul of [DECEASED] with the Light of Wisdom and Truth.
Caller of South:

We look to the SOUTH, the place from where the warm winds come. This is the direction of good friends who help us walk on the good road of life. Look down on us from the South, Creator, and pour your Spirit of happiness and friendship throughout our lives. Teach us the lesson of generosity that we may serve one another. Almighty God, fill and surround the soul of [DECEASED] with Healing.
Caller of West:

We look to the WEST, the place where the Sun sets as the day fades.  This is the direction of changes, of growing and dying.  Look down on us from the West, Creator, and give us the strength to face the great mysteries of life and death.  Transform our hearts with the gift of Your Spirit so that we may be renewed in Your Great Spirit. Almighty God, fill and surround the soul of [DECEASED] with Love.

 

Caller of North:

We look to the NORTH, the place from where the cold, harsh winds of winter come. This is the direction of hard times and painful moments that test us. Look down upon us from the North, Creator, and help us to walk in a sacred manner even when times are hard.  Give us the spirit of courage to stand up to the pains of life while we hope in the Resurrection. Almighty God, fill and surround the soul of [DECEASED] with Protection.
Caller of Sky:

We look to the SKY, the home of the eagle.  This is the place of clear vision that helps us to see far and understand the meaning of things. Look upon us from the sky-world, Creator, and teach us to rise above those weaknesses that keep us from the good path of life. Renew your Spirit in us. Almighty God, may [DECEASED] be a shining star in the Heavens; may s/he be embraced by our ancestors and the angels.

Caller of Earth:

We bend down to touch the EARTH, the place from which we come, our Mother who gives us everything we need to survive. Look upon us from all the living things of the earth, Creator, and teach us to remember the great lesson that we are related. Give us the gift of Strength to walk gently in harmony with all of life. Almighty God, may [DECEASED] carry with her/him all the good and happy memories of her/his life on this Earth.
Priest/ess:

GREAT SPIRIT of all directions, we thank You for giving us Your own Spirit to transform our hearts.  Unite us with all the nations of the world so that together we may create a new world guided by Your Spirit. Almighty God, may we all be reunited with [DECEASED] one day in a world of peace, within that timeless unity that is the heart of God.

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