Old Age Funeral Tradition / Ritual in Nys | World Anvil

Old Age Funeral

The old age funeral is a ritual that the Zatjal perform to people who are dying of old age, consisting in sending them to the spirit realm. It is a particularly rare occurence giving the dangerous lifestyle of the western Dark Lands.  
When a person reaches old age in the Dark Land, which seldom happens, their life starts getting more and more difficult: they are more prone to disease and significant wounds, but cannot be spared from everyday life, which is as dangerous as it can get. No matter how physically strong, ordinary people (not alńe) know they will soon die by the claws of a beast or the spell of a demon and, instead of waiting a cruesome end, among the Zatjal they willingly participate to their own funeral, dying of old age in peace.   This is what Woszka told me, but I think they know they are becoming a burden on their friends' shoulders and are more than happy to lift the weight. As an outsider, however, I am in no position to judge their thoughts.
— Personal Diary, Zeinstie Zekwir


For the ceremony, the whole village meets at the nearest pond supposedly inhabited by a spirit, and prays it to take the soul of the dying person with them in the incorporeal realm. The local alńe officiates the funeral, deciding when it is time to proceed and offering a gift to the spirit, usually in the form of berry extract: they say they can tell if the spirit refuses the offering, in which case either they move to a different pond, if available, or just postpone the funeral to the following month.   Once it is clear that the funeral is happening, the alńe prepares a toxic potion: it makes the body die, presumably preserving the pureness of the soul, or something like that. Anyway, the old person drinks the poison and is now going to die, spirit or not.   Now is the time when everyone cries their goodbyes and wishes the dying a good journey among the spirits of their predecessors. In a few minutes the poison starts to kick in with dizzyness and discomfort. At this point, the person enters the pond bringing the offering with them, and a thick mist miraculously materialise to shield whatever happens next from view. They say the body sinks in the water while the soul rises to the sky: I'd better withhold my own thoughts on the matter.
— Personal Diary, Zeinstie Zekwir
Related Ethnicities

Cover image: Nys Logo by Fabrizio Fioretti


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