There were actually many different forms of burial in the Scandinavian cultures of the Migration and Viking eras. However for the purposes of this page we’ll focus on the two which are most widely researched.
The first is that of a funeral pyre. It is most closely associated with the cult of Odin in Norway and Iceland. It also has the most representation throughout the sagas and the Eddas. The most famous depiction of this type of burial is perhaps the myth pertaining to the death of Balder. In this myth Balder is laid out on a great ship which is set ablaze. In actual archaeological sites it is interesting to note that there was at east one human sacrifice (usually a wife or devoted servant) as well as many animals. The person who had died was also given all the implements necessary to carry on a useful life in Asgard.
The second form of burial was internment in the earth and is quite close to modern burials here in the United States. Burials such as these are associated with the cult of Frey in Sweden and Norway. The site itself was most often shaped like a boat. Instead of the body being carried in a casket to the burial site the grave itself was shaped and lined with wood or stone to help create the mounded shape which is the prominent effect of this type of burial. These mounds were made large enough to accommodate all the things which the dead might need as well as those people and animals who were to be sacrificed at the burial.
In looking to create these rituals for modern day AsatruR there are many things that we should keep in mind. Firstly, that the burial sites that have survived to be researched by today’s archaeologists and historians are those of the rich and powerful. The average Scandinavian family could not afford anything so elaborate and were buried in simple stone howes. However, should a kindred have a member who dies and wishes them to be buried in ritual then maybe after reading this rite you might be inspired to use it or to use the spirit of it to form a ritual that is in keeping with the kind of person the deceased was.
Based on this information we present the following rite. This rite is intended to keep in mind the legalities of a funeral in this day and age. As well as the fact that this funeral should be for everyone who knew the deceased so that they may share the the loss of a loved one together.
Note: We have not had the need to perform this right yet, hoping we will not for a very long time.
Rite of Passing:
G- We call the gods here today to witness the passing of one of our kin from Midgard. May they all take note that today a great person (insert info relevant to the particular person who has died). May Heimdall guide him on his journey across the Bifrost bridge.
G- We are here before the Gods because one of our kin has fallen. Let _____’s name continue with our remembrance of those deeds which made his name.
G- Let us now toast to _____ and the deeds that _____ did for each of us.
G- ___ continues on in the deeds he did for each of us. (pour remainder of horn into Blot bowl)
G- let us now toast the deeds ____ did for the community.
G- ____ continues on in the deeds that helped to strengthen our community. (pour out remainder of horn into the blot bowl)
G-______ let us now toast the deeds he did in the name of the gods and goddesses of Asgard.
G-______ continues on in the deeds that he did for the gods. Keeping the troth of the gods here in Midgard as an example and inspiration. (pour out remainder of horn into the blot bowl)
G- _____ is remembered by us all. In all the deeds that made him/her who s/he was. Now may he remember this world.
At this point the Gothi leads each person attending up to where the body lies (or where the final resting place of the body will be). To each person the Gothi says “What gift do you bring so that ___ may remember Midgard?” The attendant then responds by holding up whatever object it is they have brought to leave with the deceased and explains the significance of the object.
G- _____ may you fare well. We thank the gods for their presence may they and (in the case of burial) the spirits of the land, the Landvattir, keep this place safe from all ill wishers.
At this point there should be either a pyre or howe. The Gothi should take the libation bowl and recite “from the gods to the earth to us from us to the earth to the gods, hail! this rite is ended.” While pouring the libation in the fire or over the howe.
Please note that this has been kept as simple and straight forward as possible so that those who are attending who are not Asatru can relate to and understand what is happening. Any family members who are Asatru should also arrange to do a blot either with a group or alone to the Disir and the new family spirit. In the case of Raven Kindred members I would also suggest a sumbel held basically like the one used to sumbel in new members but to sumbel out a member who has passed to Asgard.