Rathianic Funeral Tradition
“From Irath, you were created with greed and selfishness. From Rathias, you learned the true nature of Agia. In death, you find peace and balance. From darkness you were born to darkness, you shall return until the light of Tewyblis guide your soul to Rathies’les.”The burials of the death have been a tradition amongst the followers of Rathias, who believe that through darkness, the light of the Tewyblis shall guide the soul of the death to Rathies’les, the Realm of Dark, or Rathias’ Realm.
History behind the burial traditionIt might come as a shock for most Rathianic followers, that the tradition of burial is actually much more recently developed than the funeral pyre, the followers of Irath hold for their dead. It is clearly stated in the Scrolls of Rathias that all species were followers of Irath in the beginning, simply out of loyalty to Irath. Rathias was, in the oldest scroll, more of a teacher than a motherly figure, like the Irathians want to think Irath to be.
By the time the Illendrith, an organisation believed to have been blessed with miracle making, it is the first time the scrolls mention a burial. According to the scrolls, the founder of the Illendriths, Oleana, was said to be a follower of Rathias, but always held the balance and peace between the species and the two religions in the highest regard.
When she was met by her death, there was a minor dispute within the organisation about whether she should have a funeral like the Rathianics or the Irathians, but both Rathias and Irath agreed she should have a burial to honour her belief. It is also one of the few times Irath and Rathias agree, at least according to the scrolls of Rathias.
“For once, Irath was on Rathias side, and said that Oleana was a follower of Rathias, and she should receive a burial, so her soul could travel to Rathies’les. Rathias was surprised to see her sister give over such an important person to her, but it had been the secret wish of Oleana, and both Irath and Rathias wanted to pay homage to her final wish.”
Rituals surrounding the burial, except for... well, the burial itself, are considered being quite modern. The first books that made the foundation of the modern practice of funerals was written around 400 BGD. The books’ descriptions of the rituals are vastly accepted around Northern Agia, and a few nations in Western Agia, since they were written before the Goddesses’ death, meaning the possibility of Rathias could have given her input on them is likely.
But the books tell nothing about whether Rathias was involved in formulating these rituals, thus it is only speculations.
There are three people who are considered being the founding fathers of modern funeral practices in Northern Agia, and some nations in Western Agia; Alkusis, Yehan Belythis, and Ymalhar di Methys.
The stages involved during a burial
Preparations before death occur
Before DeathWhen a person lies dying and all hope for any cure is gone, it is time to do the last rites. There are several stages involving the dying and dead to make sure his or hers passing to Rathies’les is as peaceful as it can be.
When a person nears his end, the family or other nearby will call for a priest or priestess of the Rathianic church to hear the last wish and testament. Then the priest will place three drops of Illaine, a holy plant sap that glows in moonlight. One on each hand and one on the forehead.
In case there is no priest accessible before a dying takes his last breath, there are some barber-surgeons and midwives able to do the last rites, but without the holy plant sap of Illaine, since that is only in the possessions of priests.
After DeathWhen death has occurred, the church bell will ring three times for male, two times for female, and as many times as the clerical rank demands. But the church bell can only ring during daytime, for practical reasons. The bell will also ring when the body is being carried into the church, and the morning after the night of soul travel happens.
The Illaine will be dried in a couple of hours after applied, then a priest will sprinkle holy water onto the body, and finally the body will then be washed and put in an open coffin (if the family can afford one). After this, the body can be brought to the church.
The ceremony for the dead usually happens just before the Glux sets, and the Tewyblis casts its white light on the ground. The priest will not be using incense during the church ceremony held for the dead. A mass will be held, remembering the end of Rathias, and how the prophecy tells of her return. There will also be read a part of the Scroll containing the one small part in Scrolls of Rathias that describes the origin of the guardian in the Realm of Rathias’ gateway, known as Porthint’Tewyblis.
And Rathias knew her Realm would be empty while she walked among her followers. While she could not create life, like her sister, she knew a guardian of her realm was needed. She sought out Feangre, who had previously worked against Irath during the creation of the beasts.
“I promise, none Fangwyrm shall be harmed if you will guard my realm for me. You may bring a Fangwyrm with you.” Said Rathias and Feangre agreed. She became the guardian to help the souls enter Rathies’les, and her Fangwyrm, Lesdraiwymis, became the one who tormented those who had entered the Porthint’Tewyblis, without upholding the ideals of Rathias.
After the mass, the priest will bless the body with Illaine again, making sure the light of the Tewyblis would make the plant sap glow when the soul travel happens. Then the dead’s beloved can carry the coffin out. It is preferable to have people of the same height to carry the coffin to lessen the risk of the dead falling out.
Should a dead fall out of the coffin, it is commonly perceived as the dead will lose its way to Rathies’les and haunt those who carried the coffin.
When arriving at the churchyard, where a hole has been dug for the coffin, the carriers will softly put the coffin into the hole, using rope. The priest lights some incense to keep the smell away, and places it in the grave, and he sprinkles more holy water onto the body to keep evil creatures from the body. Those with the closest connections to the dead, places a small pouch with coins for the guardian to let them safely into Rathies’les.
All people attending the funeral will attend a small feast in remembrance of the dead. The priest usually attend, because none of those who attended the ceremony will have eaten anything. It is very disrespectful to eat in front of the dead, and even more so during the ceremony.
Soul TravelingSince all Rathianics believe the soul to travel through the light of the Tewyblis to Rathies’les, they keep the coffin open all night after the ceremony has taken place. They believe the Tewyblis will shine upon the grave and make the soul travel to Rathies’les, hence the name. Just before morning, the people closest to the dead arrive again to place either ivy or the Illaine leaves itself, because they can keep their green colour for a long time. Then the lid is placed on the coffin, and the gravedigger fills the grave with earth.
When the grave is filled, a small mirror, or something that can reflect, is placed on the grave to make sure the lost souls will find a body to possess. There are some families that write the name of the deceased on a little stone, and places it near the mirror.
Differences between the honoured and the unfortunateWhile most ordinary people, and less important people, are buried in the above mentioned way, there are some whose funeral differs.
The Honoured's FuneralUntil the 2nd century, it was only clergy, Hailan, and royals who could be buried within the church. Usually beneath the floor with a tile containing an inscription, an image of the deceased, or a coat of arms. Some have memorials of the deceased hanging on the wall. During the 1st and 3rd centuries, wealthy landowners began building private chapels, which gradually led to the development of their own cemeteries.
The best spot for a burial inside the church was near the shrine, close to the saint guarding the church.
Over time, it became popular to have a stone grave with a statue of the deceased on top. Sometimes, these graves would be empty, serving as a memorial.
What is common for these different burials, you may ask. The answer is simple; the dead after the ceremony are still carried outside to a designated spot for such honours, where they can do their soul travelling.
The Unfortunate's FuneralWhile a poor family can still attend the ceremony, often their deceased would not have a coffin, and is usually buried in a cloth. There are no mirror placed on the grave, since it is too expensive for a poor family.
Those who had not been through the Light Bath, which all Rathianic children and converts undergo, cannot have a funeral within holy grounds, nor would they may stay during the entire ceremony. Usually a mass grave is dug for these kinds of people.
The most tragic part of this, are the infants who are stillborn cannot have the Light Bath, and will be buried outside the holy ground. If both mother and infant die during childbirth, and the mother had her Light Bath, she will still not be buried with the infant, if the infant is stillborn.