I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I had a wonderfully relaxing time. I did spend most of December trying to educate myself. I was trying to learn how to add more things to my website, for your convenience. It was brought to my attention that many people would like a copy of my books but they don't own a Kindle and don't want the hardbound book. So I have been learning how to make an e-book available for purchase off of my website, and most likely, off of my blog as well. Most of you never leave the blog, which is wonderful, so I am going to try and have a widget on the blog where you can easily access any of my books.
I have been thinking lately about death... not the morbid 'oh I'm dying' stuff, but more in the neighborhood of how we as humans treat death. Since the earliest of times, as far as we know, mankind has venerated death. Now what does that mean exactly? It means that in an odd way we worship death.... well at least as much as we worship birth. There are always exceptions, but for most people, when a loved one passes away, we have the body treated specially. Many of us cremate our loved ones. This is a very old way of giving honor to our loved ones after they have passed. Long ago when mankind, in its many tribes, was a hands on warring race, those that fell in battle were burned, quite often on the battlefield. This of course has a practical application. Who wants to cart home all of the dead and their many pieces? Bodies were burned or sometimes buried in the masses. It was not uncommon for a battle to be called to a halt so that both sides could clear away the dead, not to give honor to the dead, but to make room for the battle. In time religious orders started to give meaning to the burning of the dead. Some claimed that to burn the body was to release the spirit so that it could move on to the next realm. Many religions embraced this thought and ceremonies began to erupt all over the known world.
Special oils and spices were applied to bodies regardless of their ultimate fate. This again was a practical thing. It was all well and good to say that when the King fell in battle he had to be returned home for the proper ceremony to be performed. But, getting him there without gagging the entire way was going to be a challenge. This is when they took a page from those that preserved meat before there was refrigeration. The Egyptians became masters of it. They realized that any animal that keeps its guts is going to stink faster and longer, it will also bloat and cause all sorts of problems. So they took out the guts. Of course they placed those guts into special jars because they were after all holy guts. Other cultures mimicked the behavior in most categories, some felt that it was more respectful to pickle or salt the Kings guts instead of remove them. But, regardless the reason, most of those methods are still intact today in many countries around the world.
We celebrate the day a person dies either by mourning or by actually celebrating. We have people stand up and speak about the person that they knew and then we look at the deceased and then, oddly, we eat and talk more about this person. That ladies and gentlemen is a religious event. Is this not what we do when we attend Church? We talk about the fallen Jesus and then we talk about the risen Christ, then we eat and talk some more. The pattern is exactly the same. This service is repeated when a new baby is expected and when it actually arrives.
I'm not saying that it is good or bad, it just is. We worship death, even in cultures that will vehemently tell you that they most certainly do not worship death. Sometimes, they are the worst culprits.
In some cultures this phenomenon is easily seen, in others, you need to recognize what you see to understand that it is a form of worship. Even in the Catholic Church, an institution devoted to life and lite, worships the dead. In fact they are the biggest proponents of worshiping the dead. What is praying to a Saint, if not worshiping the dead? The Church even has candles near the alter from which you can summon your dead loved ones. That's what the Witches used them for. The candles were the Church's concession to the Witches for becoming the number one Church in the world. The Saints were the Church's concession to the polytheists of the Roman religion and the Greek religion. Even the Trinity was a concession to the Romans for their favor. But, I digress.... were the Catholics or Christians forced to worship the dead? I don't think so, they were already eating the Eucharist and drinking the wine long before they became the dominant church. In fact, it was this seemingly morbid act that got many of the Romans angry with them in the first place.
It must be that the custom of how you worship the dead, is important. I know that for each church it is just a tiny bit different. Each ceremony is a little different than the last. All of it however, boils down to one thing, we still worship the dead, after all these years, we just can't seem to get past it.
Look for lots of changes to come, and thank you all for reading.
Live well and be good to each other.