Kivan Funerals

The Kivans are a people of the woods and swamps. They build their homes among the treetops and have a deep reverence for nature. Kivans bury their refuse, and are disturbed by the way other cultures treat their dead by burying them in the ground like garbage.   When a Kivan person dies, they are normally cremated. The body is wrapped in linen and placed on a pyre in one of the many departure grounds scattered through Kivan woods. In any of the many communities built over swamps, the departure ground is often a stone platform built within the swamp, surrounded by water. The pyre is lit, and mourners convene in a circle surrounding it. Loud crying is expected from both men and women - remaining stoic during the burning of a loved one is seen as very cold and a sign of shallow feelings.   After the body is burned, the charred bones are ground to dust and, along with the ash, worked into the soil around the base of a tree nearest to the deceased's home. This why, their ashes will nurture the soil and give back to the tree that nurtured them throughout their lives.   To the Kivans, however, the journey does not end with the remains. When a person dies, they are thought to move on to the Otherworld. The Otherworld is the land of the dead, the land of nature spirits, and the land of the gods. It is where the souls of the lost dwell. The entry to the Otherworld is thought to be just beyond the furthest tree.   A deceased person's soul rises from their body during the pyre and then takes the Last Walk into the wood until they reach the furthest tree and find the entrance to the Otherworld. The Lord of the Dead, Hävaihämmäi guards the entrance and demands a toll. For this reason, a gift is always included in the funeral pyre. The items burns with the body so the deceased can take it with them as an offering for Hävaihämmäi. This could be anything from fine jewels to a freshly baked loaf of bread (if the item does not burn, it is buried with the ashes). Exceptionally fine gifts are thought to win favour with Hävaihämmäi and provide a privileged position in the Otherworld, but any gift will do. The very poor will sometimes bury their loved onces with a poem or the lyrics of a song that can be given. Those who die alone or unloved, with nothing to offer Hävaihämmäi, are rejected from the Otherworld and condemed to haunt the forest as restless spirits. This is the explanation they give for Strangers.   To ensure that they will always be prepared to greet Hävaihämmäi, most Kivans carry a Hämmäi Bag with them at all times. This bag carries a small, precious item that could be used as an offering if they die unexpectedly while alone, and cannot be given an offering by loved ones.

Related Location
Forest of Stars
Related Ethnicities


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