LawtonFest 2015: The Shout

A custom in the slave community was the “Shout”. It was a ritual of dancing, noise making, chanting, and singing to help the spirit of the deceased pass over. A Shout was viewed as pagan and was not encouraged by the planters or the religious community. 

 Finally, our speaker discussed the importance of the wake. Sometimes people weren’t really deceased, but were merely in a coma. Their breath was too faint to show vapor when a mirror was held to their lips. Rather than burying one alive, watch was kept over the body. Clearly, a deceased person without the benefit of embalming will prove to be deceased in a matter of days. And saved by the bell? A newly buried person might have a string attached to their body. That string went above-ground where it was attached to a bell. 

Look up Julia Legare (Le-GREE). She’s buried outside in this very graveyard. 

As a sidenote, a widow was said to have died from a broken heart when she died shortly after her husband. The truth was that she probably died of arsenic poisoning, arsenic being one of the ingredients used in dyeing the clothing black for mourning. If one is wearing black night and day, that’s high exposure for arsenic absorption through the skin. 

Victorian Funeral Customs? Who’d have thought it would be this fascinating?!

And don’t forget to carry the body out of the church feet first, so the eyes of the dead don’t look back at the congregation and invite them to follow. 


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