Showing posts with label dead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dead. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Death Was A Pollutant, and For Good Reason

Even today as a priest, I am hesitant to attend or lead funeral functions, even though the body has already been properly cleaned and preserved. I am not saying I would not lead such a service for someone if they had asked me, but I would still be taking a bath with soap that contains antibacterial sulfur afterwards so that the strength of sulfur could purify me. Like ancient Greeks, I still believe death is a general pollutant on the living. Not because they are some kind of an affront, but simply because of the state of the body and the process.

Ancient times was not like the modern era, where you have Christian churches who fill themselves up with the tombs of dead bodies. Burials in ancient times may have sometimes taken place in the vicinity of a temple, but the Greeks would have never filled their temples with corpses. 

The first obvious reason is blood. Sometimes when a person is killed by something, they bleed. We know that blood can carry infectious pathogens, and the Greeks obviously knew as well that blood could carry contaminants because a bleeding body and other excrements coming from it could pollute someone who came into contact with it. Now after the corpse had been cleaned, purified and properly presented for funeral rites, the pollution may have been less of a concern. The undertaker, as it were, would have taken most of the burden.

However, the situation still did not become 100% foolproof. Death is a disruption of life itself. That's one of the reasons we become so sad and morbid when thinking about death or entering a funeral home, because there are two contradictory forces at play. The presence of death affects the ability to experience life for the living. Keep in mind, death does not pollute the dead. The person is already gone from the body. It's just their decaying physical presence that has remained here with us. This interference is an impediment on the natural order of the living around it, and thus, it can pollute the living.

This belief, on the other hand, was not to show any kind of hate or disrespect toward the dead. In fact, the Greeks believed firmly and fearfully the opposite, that if the body was not handled and buried properly, with the correct rites, it could make the Gods angry or cause retribution upon the entire community by the Gods or the dead themselves, as the Greeks believed the spirit of the deceased could end up trapped between the two worlds or be at unrest until they were properly buried. And once the funeral is over and the body is in the ground, the grave itself becomes a place for offerings to that deceased person, such as libations poured out upon the burial spot. Some believed the grave itself was a direct portal into the Underworld where the dead person resided, or simply to the dead individual themselves.

Therefore, I take special care when involving myself with the dead. I have never come into contact with a freshly dead body, the last time I remember attending a funeral with a body was in 1995 at my great grandmother's, and when I pass by a cemetery or a funeral home that is having a funeral at that time, I turn off my radio and place my hand over my heart to show respect to the deceased and their family. When I pass a funeral procession, I immediately pull my car over on the side of the road until it passes. Once again, to show respect. I would additionally encourage that painstaking effort take place to ensure proper rites and respect for that person.

In our time, I would say that cremation is probably the best way to have the least contact with the body as possible (if that was the wish of the dead). In fact, I have greatly entertained that option for myself when I pass on. I still want a tomb and a place of respect for my resting place, but I also don't want my body to slowly decay and rot, or be any kind of burden.

In the Goodness of the Gods, I'll see you at the next Herm down the road, Chris Aldridge.


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Tuesday, January 2, 2024

How I Know He Went To A Better Place

Many people talk of having stepparents, but I have rarely heard them speak of step-grandparents. But that's how I would categorize it. His name was Jim, and he basically replaced my grandmother's original husband, the biological father of my mother, and thus, my biological grandfather. Nevertheless, Jim was a very unique person in my life, and the life of those around him.

Not only did he stay with and help support my grandmother and her house and property throughout his life, he also treated me very kindly, and he didn't have to. We didn't really have any contact in the late years, as I had gotten married and moved out of State, but when I was a teenager, Jim financially supported me in a great many ways, along with my grandmother.

Had it not been for him, I would have probably been unable to remain enrolled in my martial arts school, which was a big achievement and motivator in my early days. I can also say with absolute certainty that I never went hungry a day in my life while I was at my grandmother's house. Jim would always make sure I was fed, and so would she.

They were also very calm-minded people. They considered themselves to be the utmost civilized. They would not go to parties or do any kind of music or dance. They did not drink hard liquor, beer, or act up in any way. They would not even let their hair, nor mine, become "inappropriate" lengths. So they were modest, greatly sophisticated they were. 

Last spring, Jim died at the age of 74, after a long struggle with deteriorating health and eventually a stroke that resulted in cardiac arrest, leaving my grandmother, who is still alive, to live alone except for the regular visits from my mother. Shortly after his death, I had a dream about Jim that I've never had before or since. He was here in Illinois, in my living room, taking me by the hands, and dancing and smiling. To dream about him for the first time, and seeing him act in a way that he never would have in his previous life, made me realize that he had chosen to deliver a message to me. Wherever he is, I think he's in a much better place.

His death was by no means a blow to me, in the sense that he was someone essential to my life today. I mean, I will certainly always remember and appreciate him, but he also wasn't attached to me. Yet, he had always lived a rather isolated life with no real success, and his passing made me feel sorry for him. But for some reason, he decided to tell me that he was okay, perhaps because he saw me as a son he never had. Or possibly because he knew I'd tell everyone back home; maybe a bit of both. 

Every day and night of your life, don't close your eyes or notice off to the signs and omens that the Gods and other people can send. They are everywhere, and if you know them, can give you immeasurable peace.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

I Feared Death Until I Knew Haides

Even His worshipers obscured themselves from His sight. No Divine name, arguably, made the Greek heart tremble with fear more than Haides, God of the dead. In popular modern fiction, He is portrayed as a villain and even ignorantly equated with the Christian devil, even though He never served any such function. However, Orpheus calls Him "Excellent," and I include Him in my daily prayers with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

I grew up Christian, so I have always been a theist, but I feared death immensely until Hellenism. The belief in Jesus never relieved that stifling anxiety, only the ancient Lord of the Underworld did. That's not to say I look forward to dying, or think that this life doesn't matter. Quite the contrary. I have simply come to better understand death. The afterlife is not the focus of Hellenic religion, life is. However, we must also realize that death will one day come, and knowing Haides has given me wisdom instead of fear as many would come to expect.

There is an immense peace I have come to find in and around myself with Haides. Many of you probably had no idea that one of His Epithets is Nekron Soter, which means, "Saviour of the Dead." Into His care, He takes those who have passed on from this life, saving us from the burdens of this world and securing for us a peaceful and intriguing place. There is nothing to fear, for I know I will be going into the hands and realm of a wonderful God. The beauty of Divinity that we experience on Earth, will continue to surround us in the afterlife, and wherever I go, it will be free from the ailments I have lived with. Whether I go to the Underworld, the Isle of the Blessed (Elysium), or the endless possibilities of reincarnation, the ancient Greek God has filled me with a calmness and security that, in some ways, cannot be put into human words. It is literally a language only known to the Gods, and merely felt by mankind.

Dying has been called passing away because it's the most appropriate term. There's actually no such thing as a complete death, only the destruction of the temporary body that we all have. Your body will die, but you will not. Dead, to my mind, is simply a term to identify those whose bodies have went through this process and are now in spiritual form. It's just another step along the path of life.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.