Deep in the forest a party of people are gathered, feasting and celebrating The Huntress and their dead friend. Not far away the creatures of the forest begin their own feast - the body, laid out clean and ready for the Great Hunt.
Three travellers crouch over their fallen comrade, saying prayers and goodbyes. They pass around a small flask and eat what they can spare from their rations.
- Pre-ceremony the body is cleaned and dressed in hunting clothes.
- The cleaning involves sewing up any wounds where the internal flesh is visible and washing the body with water infused with boiled nightshade roots. Hair is cut so it is neat and all other body hair (including eyebrows) is removed
Funerals occur in the evening, in a forest. If in a place where a forest is not readily available, the ceremony will take place in the garden at The Huntress’ temple. Friends and family of the deceased are invited. People who are not allowed to attend the funeral are anyone whom the deceased considered an enemy, and anyone who is pregnant. Direct family (living parents, siblings, spouse, children, grandchildren) are expected to attend, with exceptions for those who are not allowed. The deceased is brought forward on a wooden board (If the body is particularly gruesome it will be covered in a sheet) and laid in front of the guests. A representative of the deceased’s personal god will give the final blessing. Family members will then place hunting weapons and other things the deceased would need or want to have with them for The Great Hunt. A locket with hair from each member of the direct family will be placed around the neck of the deceased. Priestesses of The Huntress will then take the body deep into the forest, leaving it there for animals to consume. Back where the funeral party is a great feast is held to honour both the dead and The Huntress.
Note that heinous criminals (murderers, rapists, blasphemers) are not permitted a funeral. They are, however, still cleansed but instead of hunting attire, they are put into clean prison clothes before being left out in the woods with only a dagger.
Also: this ceremony takes place as soon after death as possible. If the death occurs away from home, like on the battlefield or on a long journey, a modified version of the ceremony takes place. If no representatives of The Huntress are available (including those who have her as their personal god) then all members of the party must pray to her while those closest to the deceased prepare the body as best they can. A shared meal post-funeral must be observed.
A lunar cycle after the funeral takes place, the bones are retrieved and given to the family. During this time the direct family must dress in all white, cover their faces with veils (other family and friends are allowed to, but it isn’t required), and are not permitted to enter the temple of The Mother except for birthing.
Components and tools
Components used in the death rituals are:
- Nightshade roots (nightshade being the sacred plant of The Huntress)
- Blades for shaving and cutting hair
- Needle and nettle thread
- Clothes (provided by the family of the deceased)
- Feast food (roast meats and vegetables, sweets, breads, etc.)
- The deceased's weapons and important possessions
The body is prepared by the priestesses of The Huntress. Direct family are expected to attend the funeral, friends and distant family are allowed to attend, and enemies of the deceased and those who are pregnant are not allowed to attend. During the funeral a representative of the deceased's personal god gives a final blessing. A lunar cycle after the funeral the bones are collected by the priestesses of The Huntress, cleaned of any remaining flesh if necessary, and given to the family to be buried or powered as the family pleases.
The funeral takes place as soon after death as possible. The immediate family must observe grief expressions until the bones are returned to them a lunar cycle after the funeral.