Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ars Moriendi: The Art of Dying (part 2)

Thank you all for your kind words, support, and prayers! I assure you that I'm quite secure during these times, as my belief system is quite evolved. I'm at peace...completly. I will miss my sister, but I know her sweet Spirit will live on. I'm only sad for my family who suffers a great loss. I unfortunatly cannot offer comfort as they reject my "weird" spiritual ideologies. So I will just pray for them. While my thoughts are on Death, I'd like to take the opportunity to write about a topic of great concern.

Modern burial trends are creating a serious environmental problem. We are currently experiencing Burial Crisises all over the world, cemetaries everywhere are running out of room! And because of over-population the problem will only get worse, particularly in heavily populated areas of the world. The Death Industry is starting to look for alternatives. "Green Burials" are currently illegal almost everywhere, but it's time for radical change! Our culture needs to "go green" all the way to the grave! "Because when you speak about sustainability you don't analize a problem that only regards industry or architecture torwards the environment. The sustainability is about our body, our mind and our spirit too. And goes beyond." From Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel comes the beautiful Capsula Mundi! These designers offer a solution to two serious environmental problems, the burial crisis and the deforestation crisis!

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"Capsula Mundi is a container with an old perfect shape, just like an egg, made with modern material (environmentally friendly plastic film of potato starch) in which the dead body is put in a fetal position. Capsula Mundi is planted like a seed in the soil, and a tree is planted on top of it."

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"The tree is chosen while the person is alive, relatives and friends look after it when death occurs. Future cemeteries will no longer be full of neglected tombstones but will become sacred forests." My imagination is running wild with this! Imagine a sacred grove of spirit trees! My Nana wanted to name me Hazel when I was born and it is my Celtic Birth Tree, so I would choose a Hazel Tree!

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Here are some solutions that the Death Industry is considering (keep in mind, most of these solutions are based on greed, these people don't want to lose money): *Belfast (Northern Ireland) is currently promoting creamation as an alternative. Creamation is not a good long term solution though, it's terrible for the environment! *In Wales, some councils are considering an environmentally friendly “freeze-dry” procedure, under which bodies are dipped in liquid nitrogen and gently vibrated for 60 seconds until they shatter into powder. Yuck! *In Sydney, some cemeteries are offering "renewable tenure", which means grave sites are bought for a limited period of 20 or 25 years. When the time is up, family members can renew tenure or allow the site to be used to accommodate another coffin. "Reusing graves allows cemeteries to make improvements to the cemetery and bury people where they want" This isn't going over very well though, because some people don't want the graves of their loved ones disturbed. "Some believe rest in peace should mean rest in peace." I think so too!

The following alternatives seem like better long term solutions for people and our planet: *Tasmania, is the first in Australia to offer "green" bushland burials, in which bodies are buried in open bush using recyclable burial materials.*Churches across Britain are offering land to set up woodland burial sites. *A young architecture practice based in North London has come up with a promising solution. "A modern cemetery design which the practice hopes could completely transform the way we bury our dead" The project recently won a GreenApple Award for environmental best practice and is currently shortlisted for an ACE/RIBA Award for Religious Architecture and for the Brick Awards 'Best Public Building'.

There are some beautiful Eco-Coffins available on the market. But again, Green burials are illegal almost everywhere, we have to get these laws changed! (I understand there are concerns about ground contamination from diseased maybe those bodies should just be creamated.) The Natural Death Centre is unique in providing the only independent funeral advice service in the UK. They provide information on all types of funeral choices, but are especially known for advice & support on family-organised, environmentally-friendly funerals, and Natural Burial Grounds. They also provide links to Woodland Burial Grounds (Nature preserves providing cemetery functions) throughout Europe, Canada and the United States! Now for some lovely biodegradable coffins!

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This gold-leaf Ecopod above is really cool...I would want mystical symbols painted all over mine! It has a feather-bed lining! Ecopod is a revolutionary design in coffins made from naturally hardened, 100% recycled paper. There are many choices available...even leopard print! The Ecopod was designed by Hazel Selina who spent many years working with natural child birth. Now that her family have grown up she feels it is time to turn her attention to the primal event of death. Hazel has had a lifelong interest in Ancient Egypt and the rituals surrounding birth and death. The idea of designing a coffin based on the shape of a seed pod with its natural organic form was a starting point. The concept of a seed being planted in the earth. The process of regeneration, and new life. She is also a friend of the earth and concerned about the pressing issues of Ecology. The Ecopod is 100% environmentally friendly and will not pollute the atmosphere or earth. Ecopod even offers the cutest little Acorn Urn intended to contain cremation ashes. I showed my daughter and she jumped up and down squealing..."Oh, so when you die you can go live with the fairies!" Oh, from the mouths of babes...

The coffin below is quite nice too! Daisy Coffins are made from water hyacinth or banana leaves, both fast growing and freely available! Environmentally sound alternatives to more traditional construction materials they are both innovative and trustworthy. A unique and biodegradable choice. Made from natural products with a 100% unbleached decorative calico lining, 100% cotton rope, even the aliphatic glue is 100% natural! You can also have a custom wood carved name plate added.

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There are Eco Coffins being offered all over the internet! Below are a couple of others I like. The one on top is made of wicker and the white one below it is made of willow, the same company also offers bamboo coffins! The choices are endless! And I think as our species evolves we need to make the right choices...or we will destroy ourselves and Mother Earth.

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We belong to the Earth, the Earth does not belong to us. Believe it or not...Gaia, our Mother Earth Is A Living Entity! A living celestial body in a vast Infinite Universe. Scientists are finding that the earth is alive and is communicating like other living beings. The concept that life has to be associated with biology and organic chemistry is becoming an obsolete idea.

"We have our own consciousness i.e. the thoughts that run through our minds about our lives. We are also part of the consciousness of the other people we know. Additionally we are a part of the consciousness of the rest of humanity living and dead. Going further we are part of the consciousness of "Mother Earth". The Earth bore us and sustains us in life with the help of the Sun and the rest of the Universe and hence the idea that we are somehow separate and distinct from them is only a belief that we have become conditioned with. We have forgotten where we came from, what we are a part of and now believe ourselves to be separate and distinctly independent beings. We also now see the planet as an uncooperative force that needs to be controlled or tamed. In believing this we have, shall we say, desynchronized our minds and bodies from the planetary consciousness, the very consciousness that is the source of life here."


britton said...

Fantastic topic to cover.

I send many prayers to you and your family during this time, Ms. Lavona.


Leila Marvel said...

Wow this is a wonderful blog, I'm in love with the wicker coffin.

I came across this blog the other day, it is about forrest burial in Germany, from the Daily Undertaker's blog:

Ravens' Wing said...

Yes yes and yes again so wise - yet so crunchy!!! thanks for the John Trudeau link - forgot how much I loved him - and we really do need to evaluate how we deal with death. I had the great fortune to live near graveyards twice - and i love to tour them- how much more lovely a memorial forest- thanks for posting- and many warm thoughts for your dear sister- now dancing in the light- namaste- JoDee


Ahhh haaa! I'm cracking up! I am totally a crunchy granola hippy/goth hybrid...some how it all balances out!

Verhext said...

yes, someone was just telling me about the forest graveyards! i actually like the "freeze and chip" technique - you can mulch with it!

gosh, i just think our shells are so much not who we are, preserving them seems very obscene to me.

Acacia said...

We have become too far removed from the corporeal reality of our deaths, and I love how these "green" coffins bring the truth of our own biodegradable nature to the fore. I cared for my mother's body when she died and it was incredibly hard, and entirely right. If only the law didn't force us to encase her in concrete...she would be nourishing the gardens she loved so much. Thank you for your post, and I am sorry for your loss.

rebekamitten said...

i truly thank you so much for making me think about this!

Christie said...

Beautiful blog. I think I want one of those wicker coffins for napping. Maybe that's a little too bizarre?

x said...

Wow Im enchanted by the egg idea!

Betsy said...


I just wanted to say that I adore your blog and Etsy shop!
Every Friday I do a Weekend Links post and this week I'll be featuring your site.

Check it out here:
After that you are added to my blogroll.

Have a great weekend.

All the best!

Love, Betsy.

Renee said...

I just bought my gravesite a block from where I live. I decided on cremation. But this was sure an eye-opener.

The egg one was brilliant.

Take care of yourself. oxo


Rose said...

My heart is so heavy for you, I am so sorry for what you and your family have endured.
That was a very informative piece
above. I am a natural death advocate
and we have an organization to bring awareness to people here in the Hudson Valley. For those interested, a current book titled "Grave Matters" by Mark Harris gives details on everything you need to know from costs to laws to natural burial providers with contact information.
I will light a candle this Saturday
for her~

Anonymous said...

We just wanted to stop by and let you know how inspirational your blog is. It is apparent you put much energy into it!

On a more serious note, we have been in your exact situation...our thoughts are with you during this time.

Seraph + Slendor

Layer Cake Films said...

Hmmm, if everyone starts getting cremated or frozen that is going to be awfully hard on my cemetery dirt business. ;)



[Tara] said...

I recently discovered your blog, and it is always fascinating!! I tagged you on my blog with an award -- I hope you will stop by to accept it! Keep up the amazing posts!

Matthew said...

I would really like to ask you some questions, would you be kind enough to write to me? I know this may sound cryptic, however I would appreciate your time and particularly focused knowledge.

Lady Lavona said...

Hi Matthew!
Let me know what you have in can email me at:

Morna said...

I love this posting. I am in total agreement. Do want a green burial.

Amy said...

I'm so in love with that Capsula Mundi idea. Can't think of a better way to truly give back to Mother Earth.