Re: Mourning

From: Lee R. Insley (
Date: Fri 31 Oct 1997 - 16:33:40 EET

Jane Williams asks

>Anyone know what the customs are for mournng in Gloranthan cultures,
>Sartarite in particular? I assume wearing black probably isn't one of
>them unless black dye is a lot cheaper than it was in the RW Bronze age:
>any other ideas? Cutting hair short, for instance?
>How long would normal life be interrupted, if at all? How long before a
>widow could re-marry?

I am not sure what the Glorantha version of funerial rites/mourning would
be, but I can give you a real-world version. One thing about Glorantha is
that every god (as opposed to every culture) seems to have different burial
rites, so mourning my be god related as opposed to society related.

In some Viking cultures, when at the moment a person died, a window was
opened in order to let the spirit of the body leave the building. The dead
body was then removed from the house in either a special "corpse-door" or
through a hole made in the wall. It was generally believed that if the
body was removed through a window or doorway, the dead could find its way
back home through that entrance, so percautions were made to prevent this
from happening. Once the body is removed from the house, a watch is put
over the body. This watch is to make sure the body doesn't come back to life.

A wake would then be held around where the body was being kept and there
would be much merriment and dancing. Special funeral liquors would be
brewed (in the case of Vikings - beer) for the occation. In some places, a
meal would be held around or near the dead body in a symbolic means of
having a last meal with the departed.

After the dead was buried (or burned depending on your god, religion,
culture, etc), a feast was held where a special drink was drunk. This
drink was symbolically refered to as an inheritance-ale. If the dead
person was a head-of-household, then the next head-of-household would take
the place of the deceased as the head of his family. At this point - in
modern analogies, the will of the person would be involked and the
deceased's goods would be given to specific people as per the wishes of the
departed. During the feast, toasts would be made to the dead person and
his trials and tribulations of his life would be recounted. It is
important to note, that the ceremonies for death were not a somber afair,
but one of joy and merriment.

In answer to your question about wearing black, it appears that this is a
long tradition. Dressing in either dark or pale colors is supposed to
imitate the dark or pale coloring of the dead. It seems black, blue-black,
and white were all used by various cultures. The people are supposed to
have worn these colors in order to be closer to the dead. It was supposed
to allow the living to actually 'touch' the dead. Some cultures believed
that by imitating the dead, you would prevent the dead from hanging on to
the living and coming back to life to haunt their family members.

I couldn't find much about how long you should mourn or how long you should
wait before being married in Viking customs, though Vikings seemed to have
a liberal attitude about divorce. I would assume that this would translate
into having no waiting period between marriages, though it normally took at
least six months to get everything for a wedding ready (this is how long it
took to brew the ceremonial beers). One item of note is that in Viking
culture, widows were allowed to choose their husbands, where first-time
brides normally had their husbands choosen for them (though they seem to
have been consulted to some extant).

Hope this helps,


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