Mourning Rituals


This is the entrance hall to the Carlyle House. On the table is a tray with black armbands for visitors.

After a death in the family, mirrors would be turned to the wall or covered in black cloth. Why? Because it was a time of sadness, not of your own vanity. Also, it was believed that uncovered mirrors were a portal through which demonic spirits could enter the house and steal the soul of the dearly departed. If you look back at yesterday’s photo, you’ll see another covered mirror on the wall above the coffin.

8 Responses to Mourning Rituals

  1. Olivier says:

    Je ne connaissais pas cette anecdote, merci pour l’histoire

    I did not know this anecdote, thank you for the history

  2. Ben says:

    I’m just letting you to know that I’m following the story.

  3. photowannabe says:

    This is an interesting journey through history. Seems like you are pumping us up for Halloween.

  4. kala says:

    This is a very interesting post. Kind of scary to think of mirrors as portals, but I will never see a mirror in the same way again. Thanks for sharing that interesting info!

  5. Helen says:

    I believe they cover mirrors in the Jewish faith when someone passes! When they sit Shiv’ah. I am following your photo journey… even though it’s creepy!

  6. Rudy Girón says:

    Creepy. The cover mirror is even more scary too me. What’s behind, really, I do want to know and not!

  7. mariemcc says:

    Olivier, covering the mirrors was a common practice long ago. If it is still done at all, it would surely be done only for the reason that you shouldn’t think of yourself (vanity) in times of grief, as I doubt anyone believes in mirrors as portals to an evil spirit world any more.

    Ben, thanks for dropping by.

    Photowannabe, yep, since the 16th! 🙂

    Kala, mirrors aren’t always evil portals. Remember, Alice went through the looking glass and found a very interesting place.

    Helen, I wondered if that was still done.

    Rudy, hmm… I’m getting a vision… behind the black cloth, a sea of sunken eyes, slavering lips and bony, grasping fingers… waiting … just waiting for the right moment, when someone takes away the black cloth a little too soon …

  8. Oh Marié, that sound too much like Edgar Allan Poe… great!

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