While funeral directors often are surprised by family requests for departed loved ones, there comes a time when that surprise is deepened further. For instance, it may or may not surprise anyone that Druids continue to roam the earth and are quite active in their belief systems. What may surprise you is that — in life as in death — they are becoming more widely accepted, as well as their practices and belief systems.
In one case, published in a 2003 issue of the Telegraph, it was noted that Druids were consulted to reduce the number of accidents on Austria’s worst stretches of autobahn. According to that article:
The Druids have put up huge roadside monoliths to restore the natural flow of “earth energy”. After the massive pillars of white quartz were put up beside a notorious stretch of road during a secret two-year trial, the number of fatal accidents fell from an average of six a year to zero.
Additionally, the Druid Network is available on the Internet for anyone who seeks more information about this culture. This “network” is designed to accomplish the following mission:
In every way possible, the Network aims to exist in a state of ethical awareness, those ethics being based on the Druidic pagan principles of honour, respect and responsibility for life. With regard to the environment within which we live, locally and globally, the Network actively promotes and supports campaigns for peace, racial and religious harmony, reduced consumerism, conservation, reforestation, organic agriculture and fair trade, recycling, encouraging holistic health and personal responsibility.
While this site does not focus specifically on death, it does offer some insight into Druid ritual. In all cases, there is a great resistance to liturgy — partly because the network believes that Druid ancestors committed nothing of their religion to writing. On death, they note that there are many ways that the survivor makes the journey from the pain of a loved one’s death, through rituals that honor, acknowledge, celebrate and release:
Death is not a topic that is avoided within Druidry. Rather, it is a part of nature that we seek to understand, that we might live happily beside it, facing it with dignity and honour. On these pages, we shall look at how we might do that ethically – both in terms of our philosophy and theology, and as human beings in a physical world.
The quote above is from the Death and Dying section in Ethical Living at the Druid Network, and this group lists articles that tackle topics such as “Ethical Dying,” “Preparing for Death” and “The Problem with Cremation.” The latter article supports cremation, but it also questions the amount of toxins released into the atmosphere and the amount of energy required for burning a body. Druids are, above all, very protective of the natural environment.
Two books recommended by the Druid Network on death include The New Natural Death Handbook edited by Stephanie Wienrich, and The Good Death Guide by Michael Dunn. Another book, entitled A Practical Guide to Alternative Funerals, by Kate Gordon, approaches the Druid funeral in one section. Gordon states:
Funerals are called ”parting ceremonies,’ and Druids believe that death is a gateway into the spiritual world. The ceremony is both a celebration of the new life the soul has been born into as well as the life that the person led on earth.
While Druids are more populous in the United Kingdom and in Europe, don’t be surprised if — one day — a Druid approaches you as a funeral director in the United States to help conduct a legal funeral for a fellow Druid. Learn more now about this culture so you might be prepared to honor that request. On the whole, a broad perspective on the natural funeral would provide you with the background you’d need for this request.