Bones are extremely alluring and sexy. They hold us together and they connect us to the Earth. Magaly Guerrero, of “Pagan Culture,” is sponsoring the blog party:
In accordance with our current MO, The Barbed Pentacle is showing up late to the party (we didn’t even RSVP!). However, we have such a boner for Magaly and the up coming Beltane season, that we’ll be posting bone related posts even after the party is over.
As I said earlier, bones connect our physical beings to the Earth. This is most easily seen when a body is cremated. According to Greg at The Cremation Society of Charlotte (www.csofcharlotte.com), the cremains that a mourner receives is nothing more than ground up bones. There are no clothes, no cadaver container, no hair or finger nails–none of those things are in the “ashes”. It costs $75 to run the cremater for one cadaver That’s only $25 more than it takes to fire a kiln full of pottery.
After firing a cadaver at 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 1/2 hours, there is nothing left but a cadavers skeletal structure. The temperature of the cremater and the amount of time that it is run is dictated by each state. Typically the temperature mandated is between 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and 1,600 degrees. A cadaver’s bones are then placed into a big blender-like machine and crushed.
Greg said that all crematoriums strive to produce a fine sand consistency, but that if a crematorium’s equipment is old, there may be small white chunks left in the cremains.
When someone is cremated, their ashes are usually kept in an urn as a morbid memento or scattered into the wild (which, by the way, in many areas you are suppose to get a permit to do–something about public health).
However, some people incorporate a deceased’s ashes into their own body, either by ingestion or inhalation. The first time that I heard about this, I thought it was a weird anomaly, something borrowed from a more exotic culture. But over the years, anecdotal evidence suggests that this is becoming a more accepted practice along the fringes of American culture.
The first story that I heard of inhaling cremains was about the cremains of Mad Dog. Mad Dog was a Hell’s Angel that wore a piece of his scalp that he had lost in a motorcycle accident on his belt as a weird sort of coup. When Mad Dog died (by accident, on purpose, or bad health–I don’t remember), his club rolled his cremains into a big blunt and passed him around. Mad Dog was smoked in the early 80′s. While the practice certainly wasn’t mainstream then, now it’s fairly common to hear some hipster exclaim, “Man if I go, I want to be baked into brownies!” or some such nonsense. The concept has even appeared on South Park.
Inhaling or ingesting cremains is probably not safe and I would assume it’s probably not legal. However, it does give you a lot to think about. When I tried my cremains, I was at the appropriately named La Playa de los Muertos in Sayulita, Mexico.
My companions and I climbed out onto the rocks and drank some of the cremains in rum and pineapple juice and then we smoked them as well. For the most part, the cremains dissolve in liquid. There’s not as much to strain with your teeth as you might think. With smoking them, the cremains remain in your mouth longer since they get sucked into your mouth when you inhale. Even if you put the cremains mainly toward the lit end of whatever you’re smoking, it still happens. It’s gritty and gives a new meaning to “a duster”.
If you decide that you want to ingest or inhale cremains, there are a few things that you should consider. First, once it happens, there’s no going back. While I’m not sure that partaking in cremains makes you a cannibal, you are taking what’s left of a human being into your body. Kind of like a very personal calcium supplement. Next, you need to consider your method of ingestion or inhalation. Of course, I should urge you to consider legal methods, but you’re already considering taking a dead, burnt up human into your body! The last thing that you should consider doing is grinding up any bone fragments with a mortar and pestle. Enjoy your calcium!
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