An Old World practice and Appalachian Tradition
WHAT IS SIN EATING?
A sin-eater is a person who consumes a ritual meal in order to spiritually take on the sins of a deceased person. The food was believed to absorb the sins of a recently dead person, thus absolving the soul of the person. Sin-eaters, as a consequence, carried the sins of all people whose sins they had eaten; they were usually feared and shunned
As one can imagine though, with a ritual as morbid as the profession’s name implies, the ritual needed to be provided with the utmost discretion.
Once the service of a sin-eater had been discreetly procured, the deceased would be bathed for burial by loved ones. Family members would then lay out the corpse beside a flagon of ale and place a loaf of bread on his or her chest.
Believing that the bread would absorb the sins, the sin-eater would quietly enter the home in the dead of night, recite an incantation and devour the meal.
Upon ensuring the deceased’s entry into the kingdom of Heaven, the sin eater would then slip back out into the darkness and the obscurity of the countryside.
Unaffiliated with any church or parish, sin-eaters roamed the feudalistic countrysides of England, Scotland, and Wales, and for a mere six-pence and a meal, offered a quick ascension to Heaven for the recently departed.
Records show that the last known sin-eater, Richard Munslow, died in Ratlinghope in 1906. The practice has been revived by Sean Wilde in 2022 - through the observance if anthropological records and historical evidence. I am one of the students of this revival.
In wider Christian practice, Jesus of Nazareth has been interpreted as a universal archetype for sin-eaters, offering his life to atone or purify all of humanity of their sins.
As a Modern Practice
As a modern practice, sin eating has been recently revived in 2022 with special attention paid to all anthropological and historical evidence available. Using historic texts, Sean Wilde has rebuilt and distributed what is the most traditional method of practice to students who have sought it out.
Expanding the practice to modern times within the parameters of its original purpose - we now experiment with post-humous sin eating [removal of sins for those who have passed over 6 months from the current date] and living sin eating for those who are carrying burdens on their soul that they wish to be removed.