Duhn duhn duhn!
Ok, so I wrote a big ass post about how my cultures sucks when it comes to dealing with the dead, and it was long and highly detailed and boring as shit.
So fuck that.
I did make a cool graphic for the post that would be a shame to waste:
This shows how many of the different types of ghosts there are that I've run into on a regular basis. The names of the Dead above are based on the Roman classifications.
I haven't run into very many of the Powerful Dead, at least, not knowingly. They're like the local Heroes whose tombs are visited regularly, offerings left for protection and aid. My culture doesn't do that very much. These guys are like the Saints of the Cahtolic Church. Most of my readers are familiar with a few systems that work with the Dead these days, so I won't go over it all again.
Beneath them I put the Lares/Larvae with some coherence. They might remember who they were in life, and they might make good companions to magicians, or work well to protect the hearth and home if they're like Ancestor spirits. You can hold a conversation with them, and they have more influence over the world.
Beneath them are the hordes of the restless dead. They're convenient for magicians, but for most of society at large, they suck. They cause anxiety, and magnify mental illnesses that relate to the functions of the amygdala. I think many depression and anxiety disorders are related to this class of the dead. Everyone gets anxious or depressed some of the time, but it becomes a disorder when it lasts for long periods of time, or incapacitates you in some way.
These are the spirits I think should be regularly exorcised. They don't bother me or my family because I'm a magician and I've set up my kingdom properly, but most people don't know much about this kind of thing. The number of people with a practical eschatology is extremely small.
In my neighborhood, we've got some people celebrating the Dies de las Muertes, but it's not like a festival of the dead, it's just an excuse to get drunk. Halloween used to be about the dead, but these days it's about kids getting the kiddie equivalent of their drunk on with piles of candy.
I'm all for partying and shit, I'm not saying we should stop drinking, or dressing our kids up in cheap costumes and gathering loot because the days are supposed to be holy or anything.
But these holidays served a practical purpose in the community, they cleaned out the accumulated weak/obnoxious dead. I drove down to Virginia a few weeks ago, and some of the little protestant rural towns we went through were heavy with the dead. Modern funerals are for the living, not for the dead. Pastors don't bother praying a spirit to heaven, and their "consecrated" grounds don't really seem to do much to keep the dead from walking. The air was thick with 'em in some places.
Now this makes magic a lot easier to do for magicians. It just takes a little Martial/Saturnian Work to get them to focus on making what you want happen. Most of 'em are weak and pretty useless on their own, but you get enough of them working on something you want, and they can be highly effective. I think it's pretty rad that you can get a spiritual army together that can shake the foundations of the world using a simple nine-day rite.
But with my established relationships with other spirits, it's never been necessary.
For non-magicians, it just sucks. They don't know they're haunted, let alone what to do about it. Red wine and xanax get a lot of people through it, but a regular cleansing would be better for them in the long run. I've started exorcising my secular friends when they start going loopy. It's nothing formal that they're aware of, but when someone in my circle of acquaintances starts exhibiting symptoms of a nervous breakdown, I perform a rite on their behalf to get rid of any Larvae that might be infesting their spheres. I figure it can't hurt.
I'm careful not to accidentally get rid of any positive dead that might be around. I'm not going to just banish everything, blind to the fact that for thousands of years humans have had beneficial relationships with their dead. I know I don't know everything about people's personal spiritual lives, and I certainly don't need any pissed off ancestor spirits gunning for me.
But I do my part to shrive the shades that would have been shriven if my stupid culture wasn't more interested in getting drunk than living well. I'm not doing this out of the goodness of my heart. I personally have benefited from helping out my subjects. It makes my kingdom run more smoothly when the people in it aren't being driven nuttier by the shades of the dead.