Void mummification Tradition / Ritual in Vazdimet | World Anvil

Void mummification

Relying upon their ships as home, with no territory to their name, the Vardan have developed some unique practices to allow for the health and safety of those living in their ships. Among these is the practice of Void mummification, allowing for the safe and respectful handling of the bodies of loved ones, regardless of the local laws for the current location on their trade route.


While the true details are lost to history, the Vardan believe that at some point in the past their people realized the effects of the Void of space upon an unprotected body, mainly how the fluids rapidly boiled out, leaving a dried husk.   When living on board a spacecraft, the decomposition of dead loved ones causes multiple problems for the health and safety of the living, while many of the planets on their trade routes had laws against disposing of bodies in populated space. Without a territory to call their own, the Vardan were often at the mercy of local planetary laws when disposing of the remains of dead Kin, forcing them to rely upon other people's customs even and leaving them often unable to follow their own traditions.   But the bodies in space did not decompose, and from there the idea formed to store the bodies of loved ones outside the ship, within the Void of space, until they could be safely and respectfully handled. Due to the desiccated nature of the corpses after this treatment, the practice came to be known as Void mummification.



Mourning is a communal affair, particularly among the Vardan. All available Clan-Kin are offered a chance to say their goodbyes, with working shifts shortened for the day of the viewing, requiring only the bare minimum needed to keep the Clan's ships operational and effective. Traders are still expected to perform their duties with the planet, although those with a close personal relationship to the deceased may request someone else handle their responsibilities, particularly those dealing with negotiations and potential customers.  


After a full day of viewing, the corpse is prepared for mummification, secured in the airlock of the ship while the doors are opened to the Void. For most species this simply means strapping the deceased to one of the side walls, away from the potential traffic of cargo and people, although fae are typically secured inside a mesh bag to ensure the Void is permitted access to their body without risking damage from the sudden loss of pressure. When possible, the Vardan prefer to face the open airlock toward the nearest star, although given different planetary laws on orbits and the varying configurations of Vardan ships, this is not always possible.  


If the mummification is intended as a temporary measure until the next stop, where a more permanent disposal of the body will be arranged, it will be left in place until the Clan is ready. In some cases, however, Void mummification is meant as a longer term, or even a permanent resting place. If a Clan feels particularly attached to the deceased individual, as in the case of a beloved Caravan Lead or a Kin who went above and beyond for the Clan, they may choose to keep the deceased's body on the outside of their ship, or transport the body for disposal in a specific and sentimental star system. In these cases several spacesuited members of the Clan will escort the body into the airlock, spacewalking the corpse to a designated spot outside their ship where they will secure it for the trip. After ever hop to a new system one or several kin will check any bodies stored outside the ship, reinforcing them or adjusting them as needed to ensure they remain as intact as possible.  

Cultural Meaning

While this tradition may seem barbaric to some, to the Vardan, it is a great sign of respect. The Void of space is a respected entity, the gestational parent of the entire universe. As all life came from the Void, so too does all life return to the Void in death. But to those who left a lasting impression on the living, a piece of their memory will forever remain with their Clan.   As a people the Vardan are efficient, not prone to hauling cargo any further than absolutely necessary, and hesitant to cause themselves additional work without suitable dividends. Continuing to transport their loved ones, secured between the ship and the Void, is seen as a way to show their departed kin their importance to the Clan, even after their death.
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Summer Camp 2023

Summer Camp 2023

In an effort to work the core worldbuilding articles of Vazdimet, July 2023 is about writing some of the universe's more neglected stubs, in line with WorldAnvil's Summer Camp prompt list.
There's an eclectic mix of topics across several factions, ranging from historical events to present day traditions. Take a look:


Cover image: Planet Moon Solar by LoganArt


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Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Dec, 2022 11:08

A very fitting way for a spacefaring people to handle their dead. I like this article a lot, I think a lot of us are a bit squeamish about death, but it is a very important part of life. I also cannot help but imagine a funeral like this invites a person to look up at the void above and know their loved ones are there.

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore! | Summercamp in Solaris
2 Dec, 2022 16:22

Thank you! I love exploring topics like death in Vazdimet. The way we handle it is very much tied into our beliefs, as people and society, and I think it's important to talk (respectfully!) about the uncomfortable topics.   I adore the Vardan.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
2 Dec, 2022 13:19

Beautiful article. <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
2 Dec, 2022 16:20

I am glad you enjoyed it! I don't know if you remember, but You are the one who told me I had to write it someday. <3

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
4 Dec, 2022 16:34

Great article. Very good way to deal with a difficult situation withou endangering the people on board. I wonder though for mummies that are dead so long that there are no close relatives anymore. Do they eventually remove them?

Feel free to check out my Orena 'Raitin Bane' page and my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
4 Dec, 2022 17:07

Honestly I think you can only keep something of this nature tied to the outside of a spacecraft for so long, no matter how much care you use. Eventually the Void will claim them once more, as is the Void's right.   A person's importance to the Vardan has little to do with their blood relations, though, and everything to do with their importance to the Clan-Kin themselves. And for those honored to remain with the ship, that memory is long and passed on to new generations.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
Starfarer Theta
27 Dec, 2022 22:02

I've heard and seen of many kinds of burials, cremations, and even portals. This void mummification is a new one to me, but I can see that so much history and meaning has led to its advent. Hard lives result in the most creativity of one form or another I suppose. - Nemo, World Traveler

29 Dec, 2022 11:29

This is a really interesting concept and I love the detail about trying to face towards a star!

Creator of the dark fantasy world of Melior
29 Dec, 2022 18:38

Thank you!

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
2 Jan, 2023 21:20

This was a really cool take on how to dispose of the dead. I really like how you used the topic to reinforce the community aspect of these people.   The article left me wondering, though: what do they do if something *out there* begins attacking / eating one of the bodies?

2 Jan, 2023 23:55

Vazdimet doesn't have anything that can survive in the Void of space for long. No natives in the vacuum or space whales or anything. The Mordena are the only faction that have managed to bring living creatures into the Void and that's just because the ships they make themselves are plant-based - but not carnivorous.   If someone is attacking one of the bodies they are likely a pirate attacking the ship as a whole for the goods inside and so the Vardan have bigger problems to deal with. They respect their dead, but the well being of the living are more important.

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
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