Throughout civilized history the motif of 'a journey of the departed' has played a large part the mourning of a loved one. From 'Journey on the The River Styx' to 'Viking Funeral Pyre Ships' the general concept there is a physical journey of death can be found repeatably across civilizations.
Western Culture has largely turned away from a physical representation of preparing the body for a journey. Lacking the treasures, food, and in some case slaves (thankfully) that physically accompany the body into the afterlife, western society (Judaeo-Christian) has focused on the spiritual representation of a journey; in Christianity the 'stairway to heaven' motif features prominently; Judaism is more abstract with entering a state of eternal bliss (but lacking the self-awareness as in Christianity's heaven.)
Given our world-wide shared cultural history of the physical token of the journey into the afterlife, it is no surprise this motif is re-asserting itself again in the form of ash scattering ceremonies. From scattering cremains (cremation ash) by air, sea or land the act of scattering ash has, I would assert, its roots in an undercurrent of the need to help send dearly beloved onto their next journey.
As you read the following guide to scattering cremation ash, please keep us, Spirit Pieces, in mind if you wish to make a beautiful art memorial of your loved one. We only use a small fraction of ash leaving plenty left for the actual scattering ceremony.
Casting of cremation ashes is the most common type of ash scattering due to its relative ease and applicability. Pretty much anywhere you can stand and move your arm, you can scatter your loved ones ashes to the wind. From casting of ashes on a beach to doing so in a baseball stadium, there are endless permutations of how you can send your loved ones on the wind.
Some aspects of scattering ashes this way you should be aware of. Cremains are crushed bone from what's left after the actual cremation. It is not uniform in size; some pieces of cremains are light as dust (and will carry far on the wind) and some are coarse and will immediately fall to the ground.
Trenching of Cremation Ash involves digging a shallow trench and placing the ashes in the trench, then covering with soil and ideally placing markers on top. Some people simply pour the cremains into the trench, others use a bio-degradable urn for the ashes. Trenching is the closest to traditional burial among the services and some people prefer it as it is a nice compromise with traditional burial.
Some more common trenching occurs along the ocean where people make a trench at low tide and have the ashes presumably wash out to see at next high tide. Other people might make a trench along a sentimental stand of trees or other natural green area; this is a favored way to intern ashes at green cemeteries.
Raking of ashes is much like it sounds like; cremation ashes are scattered on loose soil and then literally raked into the soil. Exposed to the air and elements, the cremation ashes break down much faster into the soil and can be quickly taken up by whatever is growing locally. Often ashes are raked into flower gardens or on the topsoil in forests or other natural locales such as a national park. If raking ashes into the soil, be sure to get permission of the landowner first.
From scattering cremation ash in the Ganges to scattering ash by sea, ash scattering services on the water are among the more popular and iconic ways scattering occurs. This may occur in various ways. For some, scattering ash on an ocean beach, a roaring stream, or a peaceful lake is best handled individually and discretely. Others prefer a more involved service out at sea. In this case, the funeral party books a ship (often promoted as offering sea-based ash scattering services) and have half-day journey relatively far off-sea where the scattering takes place.
Scattering ashes by air is one of the less common, yet still well known, ways to scatter the ashes of your loved ones over the land. As actually BEING in the air isn't for everyone, services providing scattering by air offer both passenger and pilot only scattering services. This manifestation of ash scattering is most suitable for those that have an attachment to a larger physical area of land; be it a national forest, a strip of beach or the like.
What we listed above are the more *common* types of ash scattering services. With that said, there are a myriad of alternative ash scattering services that fit every need and want. This ranges from shotgun shells filled with cremation ashes to hot air balloons. Below are some of the various services we've identified in the 'alt ash scattering service space.'
Holy Smokes will take cremains from both people and pets and add it to rife, shotgun and pistol cartridges. About one pound of cremains will be enough for 250 shotgun shells (a single case.) It was started by two former state law enforcement offers back in 2008. http://myholysmoke.com/
Eternal Ascent Society adds cremation ashes to 5 foot biodegradable balloons which are then filled with Helium. The balloons are sent off on their journey up to 30,000 feet. At that point the balloon (or more appropriately the rubber) will freeze and shatter; releasing the ash at great heights. Naturally the exact place of the scattering will happen is variable so be comfortable with that. http://eternalascent.com/
You read that right, they'll fly you're loved ones ashes into frigging space! A few grams of cremains is put into a stainless steel vial and strapped aboard a real-life rocket as a secondary payload. Several offerings are available, from a short orbital hop to deep space. This is the perfect way to celebrate the life of someone who loved outer space and/or science fiction. http://celestis.com/