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Shamanic Funeral

The Shaman visits the dying person and acquaints him or her with the practice of  “Phowa”, an ancient Shamanic tradition also described in the book “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. The dying person is guided through a visualization into the light and various ancient prayers will be spoken. One of them reads:

 

“Through your blessing, grace and guidance, through the power of the light that streams from you:

May all my negative karma, destructive emotions, obscurations and blockages be purified and removed.

May I know myself forgiven for all the harm I may have thought and done.

May I accomplish this profound practice of phowa and die a good and peaceful death.

And through the triumph of my death, may I be able to benefit all other beings, living or dead.” 

 

The Shaman guides the spirit in perfect ways to the other side.  She then performs various washing and oiling rites on the body, if requested with the help of the closest family members.

 

A three day wake is prepared, for which the body undergoes respectful preparation and decoration. The body is never left unattended and a candle will burn close to the crown of the head which points south. Small shrines honoring the four directions are set up to create a sacred circle around the body. Family members and close friends are allowed into the circle after they have been energetically purified with the smoke of sage. 

 

The funeral rites include the body being carried by 12 people in a dance of honor. A little shrine is established at one of the most loved places of the departed. Following the burial or cremation, the resting place of the remains is surrounded by a row of stones placed by loved ones, leaving two gates, one for the living and another for the soul of the deceased. The actual burial and celebration party is followed by the shamanic “gut” ceremony that helps the passage of the deceased through the afterlife and orientation in the new form. This experience allows for a full expression of grief and a final “direct” contact with the beloved departed.