Natural Burial Grounds: Also known as nature reserve burial grounds, green or sometimes woodland burial grounds, these are cemeteries based upon a very different ethos - and one that sits peacefully within the tenets of Paganism. For here there is a perfect weave of reverence for nature (and in particular the nonhuman environment) and the Ancestors. A good natural burial ground is an ongoing expression of respect for both.The deceased are prepared without the use of embalming fluid or chemical preservatives, which are typically used to slow the process of decomposition. The body is then placed in a biodegradable coffin and laid to rest in a shallow grave, which allows the process to mimic that of composting, thus benefitting the Earth.
There are usually no headstones in a green cemetery. The goal is for the land to remain undisturbed and in its natural state.
Instead, in some cases, each body is buried with its own GPS transmitting device; this way, relatives of the deceased can navigate their way over the unmarked ground (using hand-held satellite systems) to visit their loved ones.
Are there any Natural Burial Grounds in Australia?
Australia's Natural burials grounds are located in
Further Information on International Natural and Eco Burials.
As we are all carbon-based life forms on our Holy Mother Earth, and as we are all going to eventually rest in the Earth one day, let us, as Pagan Folk who honor Her, examine the methods of our physically returning to Her. Cemeteries take up a lot of space and embalming prevents us from returning to Her for a long time: I think the ancient Celts had a good idea when they chose cremation because the ashes mix with the soil easily again, nourishing the Earth faster than metal-lined boxes!
We need Pagan cemeteries! Most states require a hefty dollar amount to start a commercial cemetery (for profit) but churches, as non-profit religious organizations, can have cemeteries as part of their real estate. Did I say organizing?
Organizing Pagans has been compared to trying to "herd cats" -- next to impossible! Rather than attempting to organize ourselves in larger and more complicated groups that can be difficult to maintain: we need to focus on many smaller groups or Pagan federally and state recognized churches, and if we don't find them: create them! No matter if we "belong" to a group, or are waiting for just the right group to appear, I believe each of us needs to choose to make commitments to Gaia now, not putting off these decisions "until" we can associate with others. If we can support each others commitments in groups: wonderful! There are many Pagans now over the age of 55, who need to make funeral arrangements and wills in advance of their physical passing. We all need to think about our own mortality and what we want to occur upon our own transition/physical passing. I had a sudden attack of Angina this spring, and this kind of event tends to awaken one's awareness of mortality. I am 44 as of this writing. I am also a retired hospice nurse.
I believe that we each, as individuals, can effectively change the way in which we bury our Beloved Dead. Do we want our non-Pagan relatives designing our funerals? Do we want our memorial place looking very much like a golfing green? Most cemetery plots do not allow trees to be planted over the dead. We need to create eco-cemeteries, and Pagan burial grounds where the wildlife habitat is expanded and augmented, where Memorial Trees are planted and we may thereby give back to the Mother, in our own passing, a gift of life to those who remain.
We need to write down our wishes, like who gets to divide our ritual working tools and who gets the chalice. We recycle and compost, we have reduced, we are re-using items instead of throwing them out; but let us take this concept further and nurture the next generations by creating beautiful Sacred Groves -- intentionally planted forests made up of memorial trees marking where our physical remains are.
If you read this and think this is a good idea: think what our grand-children may enjoy 50 years from now. Turning the Great Wheel of the Year in sacred groves all over the world, Pagan folk gather to circle amongst their ancestors trees. We are the generation to create these groves, these special living forests!
I challenge you, to write and share your dreams, and create our sacred sites !!! When Samhain rolls around again, what a wonderful thanks offering to the Goddess....your own commitment, with or without a "group"....to honor the Earth by choosing the manner in which you will return to Her one day.
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The Pacific Northwest has the Church of All Worlds' Nest of Mother Rest Sacred Grove (in Blaine, two hours north of Seattle) to thank for this community service. The paperwork to accomplish all of this took nearly three years but the results are indeed worth all the effort.
The Coordinator of the CAW Nest, Petherwin, invites folks to visit a URL address on the Web: http://www.feri.com/frand/Wicca10.html
"What this means is that the Memorial Trees can never be cut down, thereby creating the Wildlife and Nature Preserve that will continue on into future generations of Pagans, who can Turn the Wheel on Sacred Land, unmolested in their Worship Circles. We can all thank Athena and Hecate for Their help!" Petherwin said, adding, "We gratefully accept tax deductible donations to help offset the expensed incurred by hiring an attorney and asphalting the driveway of the Eco-Cemetery".
The Pagan Burial Grounds are intended for cremated remains to be either scattered or buried, with a Memorial Tree planted in a 10' x 10' area, while leaving the grass to grow to six or eight inches, allowing various wildlife much needed habitat.
The Nest has forms available to apply for "The Scott Cunningham Memorial Award," which annually grants a Memorial area to a Pagan Person with Aids or HIV+ Pagan. Write to the address below for further information.
Petherwin, a CAW Scion, will be one of the guest speakers at the ATC Pagan Leadership Conference July 24th through 26th. She will be giving information on how to work within the legal system to create Sacred Land Retreats.
PRACTISING Druids, witches and shamans are seeking a permanent burial ground in Wales, the heartland of Britain's pagan following.
The Pagan Funeral and Hospice Trust hopes to secure at least one site of half an acre in which to bury 400 followers "close to their ancestors". Some members would like to be buried near leylines or sacred stones.
Others have requested biodegradable cardboard coffins and want trees to be planted on their remains.
Claire Prout, a white witch who is the trust's national co-ordinator, said: "We will be catering for the needs of people who are looking for alternative burial arrangements.
"The whole ethos of the pagan religions is the preservation and worship of the earth, so of course our members want natural burials.
"Memorials like headstones are not everyone's cup of tea. We would prefer to be buried on a sacred site which will be preserved naturally for generations to come."
Any site will have to be easily accessible and with top-soil deep enough for burials. Once the land is in use a warden will be employed to care for the burial ground and to discourage sightseers.
Ms Prout, 36, who is a midwife in London, said: "We hope this will be the start of something much bigger. After a 10-year fight to persuade the Charity Commission that we're not Satan worshippers we've won charitable status and that will help our credibility."
On June 16, 2010, Circle Cemetery became America’s first National Pagan natural burial ground and the first contemporary Green cemetery to be platted and recorded in Wisconsin.
Circle Cemetery is a 20 acre site located at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, a 200 acre Pagan Nature sanctuary established in 1983 and located near Barneveld, Wisconsin. Circle Cemetery is owned and operated by Circle Sanctuary, a Shamanic Wiccan church that has been serving Pagans worldwide since 1974. Rev. Selena Fox, senior minister of Circle Sanctuary and founder of Circle Cemetery, is the Cemetery’s director.
Circle Cemetery was founded and dedicated as a National Pagan cemetery in 1995 shortly after Circle Sanctuary paid off the mortgage on its land. Circle Cemetery is one of the first contemporary conservation, or "Green," cemeteries to be established in North America.
For its first fifteen years, Circle Cemetery took the form of an area on a ridge top where cremains were placed and Green funerals were conducted. In 2005, Selena, along with her husband Dr. Dennis Carpenter, Circle Sanctuary church attorney Chip Brown and others in the Circle Sanctuary Community began the legal process of permitting body burials and expanding the size of the cemetery to 20 acres. Circle Sanctuary minister Rev. Nora Cedarwind Young of Washington State assisted with Green cemetery platting research.
In Spring of 2010, Selena, Dennis, and Chip took the expanded cemetery proposal before local government officials through a series of meetings. Circle Cemetery zoning was approved by the Town of Brigham Zoning Committee on April 20, by the Brigham Town Board on May 4, and the Iowa County Zoning and Planning Committee on May 26. On June 15, Circle Cemetery’s plat was approved by the Iowa County Board, and the following day the remaining official signatures were added to the plat and the plat was recorded, completing the process.
A celebration of the establishment of Circle Cemetery as a Pagan natural burial ground will be held as part of this year’s Pagan Spirit Gathering Summer Solstice festivities in Missouri as well at the Solstice Full Moon evening at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin.
For more information about Circle Cemetery and some photos, see: