Blessings for the Dead & Dying


Any of the poems and blessings here can be used just after a friend’s death, to help the spirit cross over, at a funeral, wake, cremation, green burial. They also help bring a sense of creation and rebirth to any dying situation.

The Untitled by Starhawk and El Dia de los Muertos by Anne Hill are ones to read with a tissue at hand. Just typing those two verses brought tears to my eyes.


Blessing of the Elements

May the air carry your (her/his) spirit gently.
May the fire release your soul.
May the water cleanse you (wash you clean of pain and sorrow and suffering).
May the earth receive you.
May the wheel turn again and bring you to rebirth.

Blessing of the Dead

Be free, be strong, be proud of who you have been, know that
you will be mourned and missed, that no one can replace
you, that you have loved and are beloved.

Move beyond form, flowing like water, feeding on sunlight
and moonlight, radiant as the stars in the night sky. Pass
the gates, enter the dark without fear, returning to the
womb of life to steep in the cauldron of rebirth. Rest, heal
grow young again. Be blessed.

Goddess of Death, God of Grain

Goddess of death,
you who are the end inherent in the beginning,
scythe to the ripe grain,
the fall of berries,
and the coming of night.
You are called the Implacable One.
but we know you
as the most gracious Goddess.
end of sorrow,
relief of pain,
Receive our sister (brother) _____________.
May she/he become a star
in your night sky cauldron
and be brewed back to life.

God of grain, God of seed,
You who every year’s end
are cut down and buried,
You who know the dark places
the way down and the way up,
the fall and the rising,
guide our sister/brother _____________,
show her/him the long road
through the maze
to the place of rebirth,
to the place of return.

Blessing for Washing the Dead

(Of course some lines that are gender-specific won’t fit everyone, however feel free to be creative)

I bless your hair
that the wind has played with.
I bless your brow,
your thoughts.
I bless your eyes
that have looked on us with love.
I bless your ears
that listened for our voices.
I bless your nostrils,
gateway of breath.
I bless your lips
that have spoken truth.
I bless your neck and throat;
we will remember your voice.
I bless your shoulders
that have borne burdens with strength.
I bless your arms
that have embraced us.
I bless your hands
that have shaped wonders.
I bless your breasts
that nurtured us,
formed in strength and beauty.
I bless your heart
that loved us.
I bless your ribs and lungs
that sustained your life.
I bless your solar plexus,
seat of power.
I bless your belly,
sacred storehouse of the body.
I bless your womb
that gave life,
that bled with the moon.
I bless your hips,
the child’s first cradle,
strong support.
I bless your vulva,
gateway of life,
jewel of pleasure.
I bless your cock,
its rising and its falling.
I bless your testicles,
carriers of seed.
I bless your buttocks,
smooth and round.
I bless your thighs,
strong foundation.
I bless your knees
that knelt at the sacred altars.
I bless your legs
that carried you.
I bless your feet
that walked your own path through life.

Prayer for Burial

Beloved one,
we give your body to the earth.
Earth Mother, Root Mother,
Father of soil,
we give you this body
of our beloved _____________.
These eyes will never greet us again
return to earth.
We will not kiss these lips
return to earth
or touch these hands
return to earth
or hear her/his voice speak our names
return to earth.
What she/he has been is gone.
What she/he is now has passed the gate,
leaving this body
to become soil,
this flesh to nurture flowers,
these bones to be roots of trees.

Chant: And so return, return, return,
return to the mother.

For Burial at Sea or in River

From water all life arises.
Mother of waters,
Father of rain,
You have taken back your own.
As a  stream flows into a river,
as a river flows into the sea,
may her/his spirit flow
to the waters of healing,
to the waters of rebirth.

Chant: We all come fro the Goddess.

Cremation Prayer

Goddess of fire,
sun’s fire, lightning,
flame on the hearth,
fire that cleanses and destroys,
fire that purifies,
you have taken our beloved one _____________.
She/He has become
flame and ash.
From her/his spirit
a pure flame arises.
We warm our hands
at the hearthfire
of memory and love.

Inanna’s Prayer by Starhawk & the Goddess Inanna

(For those who die from AIDS* contracted through sexual intercourse, or another Sexually Transmitted Infection.)
(*AIDS is neither just a gay disease nor just a sexually transmitted disease. When Starhawk was aspecting Inanna in a ritual, She spoke and said that those who have died from AIDS and did catch it through sexual activity- gay or otherwise- are Her holy martyrs. She was very angry how they were being treated and wanted shrines erected for them everywhere. While working on these shrines, we can begin with this prayer.)

You for whom the house of love
has become the house of death–
I Who am the Goddess
of love and death
open My arms to embrace you.

You are My heras, My heroes,
My saints, My holy martyrs.
You know Me intimately
as few have ever known Me.
And whether you come to me joyfully,
or recklessly, or accidentally,
I welcome you.

Come, enter My house, renew yourself.
Eat from My table,
Sleep in My bed,
taste unimaginable pleasures.

Do you think you paid too high a price
for pleasure?
I reward those who do not bargain
Who willingly or unwillingly
give their all.

The worst is over
Death is not so terrible
It’s the getting there that hurts
Now rest
Now take comfort, now take joy
In the exquisite love
that you have earned.

Untitled by Starhawk

Ashes flying on the air,
ashes scattered on the sea,
burned to ashes in the fire-
so many gone.

Falling down a well of grief,
drowning in a sea of despair,
how can love begin again?
So many gone.

O I can see the faces there- many ages, many colors –
as they gaze far away into the evening.
There are friends that I know and so many, many others,
and they’re eager for the journey to begin.
Some have come there with their loves, some have come alone;
they all embrace in the light and in the shadow.
And we say our farewells, with our arms around each other,
and you tell me I will see you again.
And you tell me I will see you again.

Well, i am happy for you then,
on your journey toward a new home,
but, when I wake, all that I know
is: you are gone.
And I can dream you in that place –
laughing, smiling, healthy, and strong,
but when I wake, all that I know
is: you are gone.
Well, some days tears are all I have,
some days, anger and despair,
and, sometimes, dreams are all I have
since you are gone,
You are gone.

So fly away, my love, on that violet ship of beauty,
fly away through the night to the morning.
Fly away, my love, on the silken, purple sails,
fly away through the darkness to the dawn.
Fly away, my love, on the violet ship of beauty,
fly away through the night to the morning.
O fly away, my love, on the silken, purple sails,
fly away through the darkness to the dawn.
Fly away into the night,
fly away into the stars,
fly away into the dawn,
to lover’s arms.
Fly away into the night,
fly away into the stars
fly away into the dawn,
to lover’s arms.

El Dia de Los Muertos by Anne Hill 

(November 1991, For the death of a child)

Wrap his little body in black silk,
reach down the damp hole
shoulder deep – place him there,
where the roots of oaks gather
to suck in the cold. The roses,
short-stemmed, go in next, with
stones that sound of the ocean.
Tell the children to get a piece
of candy, a teething toy, and they
do, though he never had teeth at all.
Push the dirt in, first with little hands
then bigger ones, pat it down as acorns
fall onto knuckles and laps. A stone,
gray as the body beneath, marks
the place like a navel, and marigolds
are scattered over earth and rock,
sinking like embers from the sun.
At last, now, int eh cold blue air,
a new voice rattles the leaves,
then rises like smoke
through the veil of the day,
into the world’s cradle.

For A Miscarriage or Stillbirth or Infant Death

Mother of life,
Mother of death,
here is a spirit so new
that the gates of life and death
are just an archway in her dancing ground.
She has danced her way back to you.
Her passage is easy
but mine is hard.
I wanted to hold her living flesh
and feel her soft breath and her heartbeat.
(I nurtured her in my body;
I would have fed her from my breasts.)
I would have cared for her
and watched her first steps
and listened for her voice.
No other child that may come to me
will ever be what she would have been.
Nothing, nobody, will ever replace her.
Whatever healing I may find,
this loss will always be a part of mine.
(Bless my womb, which has the power
to create life and death.)
Bless my arms
that would have embraced her.
Bless my hands that would have lifted her.
Bless my heart that grieves.

For One Who Has Died Violently or in Great Distress

Mother of healing,
help us to believe in the
place where wounds can heal.

Mother of weaving,
show us that what has been torn
can be mended.

The worst has happened.
How can we believe again
in hope, love, kindness?
[Name the loved one three times.]

Boatman, Ferryman,
she has had a rough crossing.
Carry her gently.

Comfort her, Mother,
in your warm arms of
night; rock her to sleep.

And by our rage,
Mother of Justice,
May justice be done.

For One Who Has Died to Save Others

You who have made your life an offering,
who have laid down your sweet flesh
that others may taste life (freedom),
you have become like the sun
whose radiance sustains us.
You have become like the grain
cut down to feed us.
May you rise
as the buried seed rises.
May the Mother of All
gather you in.
May He who falls and rises
guide your way.
May you return to us
when we are afraid
and teach us to be fearless, generous,
and kind.
May we love our lives the more
for your sacrifice
and may we learn to love
as you have loved
so that boundaries of self and life
and the night sky is filled with stars.


The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing Over by Starhawk.


3 thoughts on “Blessings for the Dead & Dying

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