our cemetery

A Witch’s Preference: Sky Burial… FAIL

Since I was a child, I have always wanted to have a sky burial as I saw on the old television shows about Native Americans while I was growing up. I understood that the animals would feed on my flesh and it never bothered me to think about it, much to the dismay of my Christian parents. They felt that I was to park in the ground inside a secure metal casket, within a cement liner and stay there until the second coming of the Christ. Doesn’t that seem outrageously silly? It seems to me that it is a modern affectation adopted to increase the cost of funerals. It was not necessary for thousands of years before recent history and in a majority of cases, it is not necessary now. Can you imagine the problems we would have trying to find farmland, grazing land for animals, land to build our homes and businesses, if this had been the common practice for even the past few hundred of years of civilization, much less thousands of years?

To me, it makes perfect sense that we should be put up in the sky on a platform in a tree and allow the insects and animals to feed. Then, other animals and insects feast on them and so on. The whole “circle of life” pre-Lion King musical interlude. After all, what is the point in wasting away inside a container where nothing can get to you? Not only that, but putting that container inside of a second container a well? Ludicrous! No animal, no bugs, no nothing would be able to return you to nature. If our ancestors had subscribed to these silly rules throughout history, the world around would be populated by nothing but graveyards.

Now I will grant that in some areas of the world, due to nearby sea levels, proximity to aquifers and water sources, different methods may be required other than the pine box in the ground. That seems most reasonable to me, after a sky burial, that is. In areas such as these, many people opt for the above ground mausoleums or cremation. The mausoleum is a ridiculous construct to me, as well. A house where dead bodies are stored seems like a wasteful use of earth, in my opinion. Again, this would also cover the earth eventually leaving no place for the living. Cremation makes a bit more sense to me, though it still leaves a lot desired as the overwhelming amount of nutrients burn away instead of returning to nature. Granted the ashes may be returned to nature. However, the ashes are inadequate when compared to the nutrition that the flesh would be able to offer to other creatures. Even more insane to me are the exceptions based around where people are allowed the right to scatter ashes. After all, how much of the dust in our homes and around the world is the dead skin that flakes off us while we are still alive? At least the ashes have been “purified” by fire, so to speak. Why the heck can’t I spread the ashes of a loved one in a beautiful park where we once sat and watched our children play or walked while holding hands? It is not as if we did not already shed our biological selves just by brushing an arm up against the trees, or shedding skin cells while sitting on a bench or the grass.

Originally, Az wanted cremation as his way of disposing of his remains. However, during one of our many odd discussions during our engagement several years before he passed, he did give me an out. He said if his Lutheran family members complained too much about not having a site to visit, that I was to bury him, but he wanted a pine box and cement no liner. After the way his mother and middle sister, in particular, wailed about the cremation of his remains, I opted for less stress… more nourishment for nature. One fact that I found interesting was that there are not any “pine boxes” commercially sold at most funeral homes. In order to have one, you have to order one in advance, then store it, or go through a third party vendor at the time of need. This is insane in my opinion. That should be an option available in every funeral home. Why are we being forced to go down a path that we do not want? Oh yeah… the price difference is a few thousand dollars. Gotcha, I completely understand, now!

As such, when my Az crossed over unexpectedly, I scoured the area for the most beautiful, and honorable institution I could find, as I felt he deserved the very best there was to offer. Even though I did find the very best place for Az’s funeral, we were still reduced to using their option of a compressed board box as that was all they had available on short notice. For those who do not know what compressed board is, think particleboard. It is like sticking your loved one in thick cardboard box and burying them. Now while some might object to this sort of burial, for one who wants to go back to nature as quickly as possible, it is pretty much ideal. They even laminated it so it looked like “real wood” as long as you did not look too closely at the seams.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the best we can do in our area, is go for the particle wood box method and find a cemetery which does not require a cement grave liner, that way the wood rots and we are returned to the bugs which eat us and then the birds and creatures eat the bugs, etc. I was fortunate to find one for my husband and I, as most in this area have gone the way of requiring cement liners and metal boxes.

There are other, more eco-friendly, options. Although cremation and scattering of ashes is a decent option, personally, I really love the idea of a Bios Urn, which is marketed as a biodegradable urn for your loved ones ashes. They include a seed and when the urn is planted, it results in a new tree which is fed by the nutrients in your loved ones ashes. How freaking cool is that? I have always wished to be a tree. I love communicating with them, working with them, worshipping them. How great would it be to nourish a tree to life from a seed? However, I checked with the cemetery where I bought my plot beside my beloved. No tree planting allowed.

I will have to settle for the fact that one of the few trees in the tiny cemetery is directly beside our plots. I had Az interred directly beside it, so by now I am sure that his physical remains have nourished the tree. Besides, he always said, “If anyone wants to come at you, they are going to have to go through me to get there!” which is true of our current plot arrangement.

As I always say to my beloved, “Loved you then, love you still, always have and always will.”