Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Do I Have To Wear Black: Rituals, Customs and Funerary Etiquette For Modern Pagans by Mortellus

Book Review

Do I Have To Wear Black

Rituals, Customs and Funerary Etiquette

For Modern Pagans

by Mortellus

Llewellyn Worldwide

344 Pages



Explore the myriad of customs that have emerged around death and dying in the magical and Pagan communities. Filled with rituals, meditations, legal considerations, and deep insights into death as a spiritual process, this book can be used by magical practitioners or shared with non-Pagan professionals who support Pagans in their final transitions… From the Publisher

Do I Have To Wear Black: Rituals, Customs and Funerary Etiquette For Modern Pagans by Mortellus is a timely read that fills a gap that has existed for some time now. Modern American society, as a whole, shy away from death, making it a very sterile and one size fits all affair. The pagan community intuitively and by virtue of many of the traditional and ancient ways has stepped a little more deeply into how death can be honored as a natural and unavoidable process not to be feared and uniquely out-pictures for each individual in its own way. Separated into five (5) parts and twenty (20) chapters, this book assists in bridging that gap and navigating death in a way that is respectful of all concerned.

Part One: Views of Death and What Comes After provides the foundation for whatever disparity may occur between the beliefs and customs of parties involved.

Part Two: Mortuary 101 gives the reader a look behind the scenes of the business of death in the modern world. The author, Mortellus, uses her knowledge as a Mortician to engage us in the reality of funeral rites and what more could be done in honoring the dead. The reminder to make sure that your wishes are known before you die and the choices that an individual may have regarding their funeral are brought into focus reinforcing the thought that each life is unique as is each death.

Part Three: Customs and Funerary Rites takes the reader through some of the more prevalent types of paganism and the nuances and ways in which the dead are honored. I believe this serves a multitude of intentions in highlighting the specifics of rites and their meanings as well as the thread of commonality that is woven regardless of your practice. Some inclusions are: Kemetism, Hellenism, Druidry, Heathenry and others.

Part Four: No Two Deaths Are The Same really drives home the reminder that the one size fits all approach that is common in modern society is a disservice to the beloved dead. It may serve to quiet the discomfort of the survivors around issues of death and honors nothing more. Some of those more poignant inclusions are those rites for those transitions caused by suicide, death of a child or abortion. These, in particular are deaths that are not easily accepted and uncomfortable for many to come to terms with.

Part Five: Grief and Everything After brings the journey of death to its natural ending and offers ways of healing and mourning. Letting Go Poppet Ritual, Mourning Dream-Pillow, Painting with Cremains and Sending Messages to the Dead are some of the spell work and memorial creations offered.

Would I Recommend:

Do I Have To Wear Black: Rituals, Customs and Funerary Etiquette For Modern Pagans by Mortellus is an intimate journey into death and how we may better serve the lives that have passed on. I appreciate the knowledge that Mortellus is a mortician, and as such, has first-hand experience of the many ways in which death and grief are expressed and the individuals whose lives are touched in the process.

As a much needed resource, this title is filled with sample rites, memorials and suggestions for honoring the dead in a way that is fulfilling for all concerned and in keeping with their specific beliefs and wishes. From the perspective of the pagan community, we need to embrace our wishes and those of our loved ones, step up to let these be known in the more traditional settings and speak from an informed place. Do I Have To Wear Black: Rituals, Customs and Funerary Etiquette For Modern Pagans by Mortellus fills all of the check boxes!

About Author Mortellus:

Mortellus (Western North Carolina) is a Mortician, British Traditional Witch, and High Priestex of the Coven of Leaves. She is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Director and Morticians Association.

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


About the author:

Robin Fennelly is an Elder within The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition and serves as High Priestess of Coven of the Mystic Path, the 12th Coven within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition. She teaches and facilitates classes for the Pagan Experience Study Group that serves as foundation for membership within Coven of the Mystic Path.  

Her spiritual journey is strongly rooted in both Eastern philosophy and the Western Magickal systems from which she has formed a core foundation that is diverse in knowledge and rich in spiritual practice.  A life-long learner, her practice has evolved from the classical and philosophical teachings of books, practical experience and enrichment of this knowledge base by attending workshops of various spiritual traditions presented by master teachers.

Robin formally came to the Wiccan path in 1994. Following a practice as a solitary for 2 years, she dedicated to Oak and Willow Coven of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition in November of 1996. She received her 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Elder) degrees within the Assembly Tradition and has served as High Priestess of two ASW covens since Samhain of 2001 and the Winter Solstice of 2015.

As a teacher of esoteric and magickal studies she uses Energetic Anatomy, Tarot, Astrology, Hermetic Qabala, Eastern Philosophy, and Numerology as the foundations of her diverse selection of workshops and writings for more than 25 years. Exploration of varied energetic protocol has been the focus of her work for some time now and the information gained through direct experience informs all of her magickal and spiritual work.

Robin’s writings have been featured online, and in print Internationally.  She has authored several books incorporating her unique style of writing making use of poetry, prose and pathworking to enhance the concepts presented.  She has taught extensively throughout the Pagan community, including Sacred Space Conference, Spring Magick, Between the Worlds Interfaith Conference and Free Spirit Gathering Festival. Her most recent projects include a channel on youtube: A Journey to the Inner Chamber. She also shares audio pathworkings and ritual on her bandcamp site: Teachings on the Path with Robin.

Robin is the owner of Holistic Embrace providing services for mind, body and spirit such as Tarot readings, Astrology reports, Spiritual Guidance and other related offerings.  She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania and her life is blessed by a 40+- year marriage, five children and the opportunity to work in the field of public education.


Coven of the Mystic Path,

Her books can be found on Amazon or purchased directly through her website:

For more info

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 1 It’s Written in the Stars-Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 2 Poetry of the Spheres-Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 3 Awakening the Paths-Qabalah

The Light of SELF: Consciousness, Spiritual Practice and Learning to Breathe

Magickal Verse: A Collection of Poetry and Prose

A Year of Gaia: The Eternal Cord

The Elemental Year: Aligning the Elements of SELF

Temple of the Sun and Moon: Luminous Devotions

Sleeping with the Goddess: Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection: Musings for the Year

The Magickal Pen: A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Enchanted Gate: Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

The Temple of the Sun: An Astrological Solar Year

Writings in the Shadow: An Exploration of the Shadow Nature