The complete title of this booklet is Ontslaap nu in mijn armen, mijn lief – het doodsgebeuren: een heidens alternatief. The first word is a Dutch word that isn’t used very often. It is a beautifull word which means something like ‘pass away’, ‘to fall asleep’. Then the title of this booklet means ‘Pass away in my arms, my dear – the befall of death: a pagan alternative’.
The booklet is written by Koenraad Logghe of Werkgroep Traditie from Belgium. It was published by Traditie itself and can only be ordered by Traditie. I suppose that you have guessed that it is written in Dutch. As the title suggest the booklet is about dying, death, rituals, etc. in a ‘pagan perspective’. The writer starts with discribing how illness and death are hidden away in our society. Not that long ago a person died in company of his/her loved ones who knew what to do in the periode of dying and thereafter. Nowadays many people die in a hospital and special companies take care of the burial or cremation.
Then Logghe continues to explain the difference between burial and cremation, speaks about ancient burial rituals (like with the use of cromlechs or burial mounds) and how our ancestors (might have) looked at this important face of life. Then follows detailed information about the Norse/Germanic symbols around death, rituals, the different ‘souls’, heilagr, örlogr, etc., etc. This part is a very nice compilation of this information together. The second half starts with a more psychological part about how relatives experience the death of a loved one, followed by a long part with possible rituals, songs, poems, information for speeches, etc.
Ontslaap is a very nice booklet to give you ideas about how the forgotten practices around death and dying can be revived and given meaning again. Also the first half is very helpfull to get a quick idea how our ancesters actually saw this whole process and how it fitted in their worldview. A very nice little book (about 150 pages), but you will have to contact Traditie to get a copy of it.