Saturday, February 27, 2010

Finding Inspiration in the strangest places

Last night, I was watching the newest episode of Caprica on the Syfy channel.  If you haven't seen it and you liked the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, check this out.  In last night's episode, which you can watch on line, Joseph Adama was encouraged to honor his late wife and daughter in a traditional ritual from his home world of Tauron.  I was very impressed with the ritual itself.  The theology of the 12 colonies from both Battlestar Galactica and Caprica is based heavily on the Olympian Gods.  And clearly in this episode, there is also a nod toward the entire Hellenic pantheon including the Chthonic gods of the underworld.  They never said the names of the gods there - which may be consistent with how the ancients viewed them as well. 

I think sometimes about funeral rites.  Not that I am rushing to have a funeral or anything, but I do think about how to incorporate my own spiritual traditions with something that most of my friends and family can also take comfort in even though most of them are not Hellenic.  The main problem with pre-planning your own funeral is that once you're dead you really don't have a say in it any more. 

The ritual that the Adamas participated in during lasts night's episode was lovely.  And even though it comes from a pop-culture TV show based on a fictitious world with a Hellenic-like state religion, I don't feel the least bit weird saying that I would like to incorporate something like that into a funeral. 

In the episode, friends and family gather at their home for the ritual.  As the ritual begins, Joe and Willie Adama (future Bill Adama of Galactica) approach a priest that appeared to be a symbolic Charon, the ferryman who allows passage of souls across the River Styx in the underworld.  The priest asked them if they had a coin for him and they each handed him one - one for Shannon Adama and one for Tamera Adama.  Joe and Willie then asked if they would be granted passage and the priest replied yes, but then asked if they (meaning Joe and Willie) would be willing to let them go.  They both said yes.  Then someone in the background began to sing a song, presumably in the Tauron language, and the priest gave Joe Adama a tattoo - which are very symbolic in their culture. 

I really like the core of this ritual; the approaching Charon, the offering of coins and the granting of passage to the underworld.  I would never ask someone to get a tattoo for me, unless then wanted to of course.  I have also always wanted the poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay to be read for me and I think it would incorporate nicely into the ritual.
Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, "My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here."

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