Themblise funerals are both times of mourning and celebration. Due to the widespread belief of the diety Ravieka, most Themblise believe in reincarnation, and that the consciousness (mind) and magic of the dead will be recycled and reborn. Therefore, Themblise funerals have two parts: the mourning of the death of the loved one, and a celebration of their rebirth.
When someone dies, it is believed that both their consciousness, which would be their mind, and their magic is returned to Ravieka, to be one with the deity again. According to Ravieka, the deity split their consciousness and magic to create all living things, from the Fey, to the civilized and mundane creatures, and flora. Therefore, when someone dies and everything that they are is returned to Ravieka, their spirit may be split into many different new creatures. For instance, if a civilized horse of moderate magic who loved flowers dies, their family may pray that their consciousness is split into a meadow full of flowers, while their magic is poured into the reservoir of a newborn fairy (which are considered very nature-oriented).
The physical body is prepared usually by the friends, family, and loved ones, but if not available, the town priest(s). The body is groomed: fur and hair brushed, feathers straightened, and scales polished. The eyes are closed, or a piece of fabric (preferably silk) is wrapped around the eyes. The priest paints two runes, one on the forehead, one on the neck, just like on the worshiped statues of Ravieka. The body is then carried out to the funeral pyre, which, for richer patrons, is filled with incense.
Mourners traditionally wear red or orange the evening of the funeral. After the priest gives a prayer, and anyone else delivers a eulogy, the flame bearer lights the pyre. The priest leads the mourners in song, of which there are several popular choices. Typically the song is one that starts slowly and quietly, and builds up into something loud and energetic. As the night progresses, everyone feasts and celebrates the life that the dead had, sharing stories and favorite moments, and often toasting and wishing the dead a great new life. It is not uncommon for people to get very drunk at funerals. Music and dancing often accompanies the nighttime celebration of rebirth. The bonfire is kept lit all night, even after the body as long burned away.
Once morning has come, it is believed that the dead has returned to Ravieka, and will become something new one day. It is not uncommon for mourners to believe that anything of unusual beauty seen in the days, weeks, even months or years following is a bit of the magic or consciousness from the dead returning just for them. There’s no time limit imposed on being reborn, but on the morning after the funeral it is assumed that all traces of consciousness and magic are gone from the body.
That morning, a cupful of ashes from the cremation fire is scooped up and mixed with clay. A small tablet is made with a hole punched through on the top (to attach red ribbons to, a symbol of magic). This tablet may be decorated with the dead’s name (although most Themblise are illiterate and don’t know how to write), a charm that reflects the dead, or a symbol or a sculpted relief. The tablet is then placed with the home’s alter. Multiple tablets may be made, so that the loved one may be remembered by their entire household, no matter how far away the family lives from each other. Tablets can also be given to the dead’s closest friends, as well as to local temples. It is seen as an honor to be given someone’s tablet. Tablets of unknown bodies are always given to temples. If a body is not found, or unable to be recovered, then a tablet is still made, sometimes with the ashes of the dead’s belongings or favorite foods/objects.
For mass funerals (due to disease or war), it is more common for a massive log to have Ravieka’s runes carved into it and burned with all of the bodies. Then, afterwards, an obelisk is made, rather than individual tablets, and left near where the burning took place. The obelisk will often have carved into it a written history of why there was a mass cremation.
Themblise tradition of cremation versus burying stems from more of a convenience factor than a religious one. It is very arduous to dig a hole large enough to bury a dragon’s body. However, during periods of drought, sometimes burial is chosen over burning to save resources and prevent the accidental spread of fire from a flyaway spark. Burial is considered not quite right, but it is believed by most that the consciousness and magic of the dead will eventually return back to Ravieka, it may just take more time. Some prefer it over cremation, and ask for it for when they die.
The habit of open-air cremations may cause a health and environmental risk. The sky often turns grey after a mass cremation. However, Themblise don’t typically worry about these concerns, as too many of them are trying to survive day-to-day to consider environmental impacts.