ARC Review: Do I Have to Wear Black?: Rituals, Customs & Funerary Etiquette for Modern Pagans by Mortellus

Cover for Do I have to wear black by Mortellus

Title: Do I Have to Wear Black?: Rituals, Customs & Funerary Etiquette for Modern Pagans

Author: Mortellus

Pages: 344

3 stars out of 5
3 stars – I liked it

In this book, Mortellus brings together a collection of customs that have emerged about death and dying in the magical and Pagan communities. The customs focused on in this book are British Traditional Wicca, Crypto-Paganism, Discordianism, Druidry, Eclectic Wicca, Heathenry, Hellenism, Kemetism, and Thelema. The book also includes stories and myths that teach lessons about death and the different kinds of afterlives from different faiths. 

Part two of this book is where discussion of different burial practices comes into play. This is the section of the book that I really enjoyed, especially considering it included practices that I hadn’t heard of before like Promession. This section also discusses end of life plans, wills, and the importance of planning ahead, which is something I need to do. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was very informative about each tradition’s culture and rituals. They also included a couple of death rituals that pertain to these practices, which can easily be adapted to your situation. Also included in this book is discussion about animal deaths, unexpected deaths, and the loss of a child. These are very heartbreaking topics but Mortellus did a great job at approaching the topic and discussing what ritual options you can take. 

The only issue I had in this book was in Chapter 6 Restorative Arts and Crafts. She discusses creating life casts and death masks to help with grieving. I have made a life cast of my husband so I know how the process works. Do not follow the instructions listed in this book for life casting because it is not safe. The instructions say to place straws in the nose so the person can believe but this is extremely dangerous. If you bump those straws it could cut the inside of the person’s nose and cause a nosebleed, most likely causing the person to panic. The proper way to do a face mold is to carefully work around the nose placing straw strips between the nostrils. Leave the nose holes open!! After you take the life cast off the person, you close the holes with plaster or clay. Please look this process up online. There are a lot of videos with the proper way to make a face cast. So again please, do not follow the instructions listed in this book.  

Other than the improper instruction for life casting, I enjoyed this book. It presented new information about rituals, practices, and beliefs in the Pagan community. A lot of these were group rituals though so if you are a solitary it might be harder to have someone do these rituals for your death, but a lot can easily be adjusted.  

Trigger Warnings:

  • Death
  • Greif
  • Child death
  • Suicide and assisted suicide
  • Animal death

*ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review.*

Goodreads / Amazon

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