I popped in the death van and headed north to the latest green guardians to offer natural burial services. Herland Burial Forest is nestled on a mountain slope in the State of Washington. It was a wet and gnarly drive to bring the body of Franklin and his natural oak casket to his resting place. But it was such a cool place! Herland’s approach to stewardship is to be akin to the wild life that inhabits this particular forest.
My apprentice Jane is along for the ride and she finds the concept of a natural burial forest to be Facebook worthy. She’s either been on that or her phone since we pulled out of the parlour parking lot.
I try chatting, “All living things affect their environment, always. Every action is in response to a shifting foundation. It is within this dynamic that creatures find ways to survive, and are selected for their fitness to the changing ecosystem.”
“Uh huh,” is all I get.
I gamely continue, “As the woodland develops it will become an increasingly attractive place for family and friends to visit. It is an essential leap that communities are going to have to make if they desire to understand how ecosystems operate.”
It’s like talking to my daughter about picking up her room. Somehow Jane never hears one word leave my mouth. I am a puff of evaporating smoke from a rank cigarette butt.
“So you should really be taking notes when I talk. Most things I share will either find their way onto your licensing exam or will be of practical use down the road in your mortuary life. Natural burial grounds are open to all. They are seldom linked to any one religion or belief, although individual graves can be consecrated as desired. They offer an environmentally friendly, cost effective and permanent alternative to traditional funerals, cemeteries and graveyards.”
Herland Forest is a manifestation of these values, and a way for ecologically compassionate people to make a final contribution to the next generation of Earth stewards. To keep the rolling stone moving onward, we can use our bodies as a barrier to development and also in support of ecological understanding of community and cultural evolution.
Although the burial forest is managed by a community collective, they believe that their values and world view are similar to those of the people who seek out natural burial options. The baby boom generation who came of age in the 60′s and 70′s, are credited for folks attempting to redefine the American commercial/consumer values. Boomers have also grown up in an increasingly complex technological/marketing society, a population that has en masse, lost contact with the Earth as the foundation for human life.
I am fired up, “So what do you think about this place? The giving of life and death happens simultaneously — death is the pathway to new life, all life building upon one another, creating more of a context for life. An ever evolving spiral.”
“Life and death all the time, the predator is always on the hunt. The raven is always looking for a meal. We must fill our bellies, and in turn fill the bellies of others, be it microorganisms, plants, insects, fungi, animals, whatever. All of nature is a graveyard. I’m gonna Facebook that.”