The White Eagle Nature Preserve Cemetery is essentially a nature preserve where death nourishes life. Throughout history, the burial of human remains has mostly functioned in this way . . . recycling nutrients back to the Earth – green burial is simple in its purpose. The modern cemetery is a different story however, functioning as a way to prevent the human body from returning naturally to the Earth. Isn’t this afterlife separation from nature a perfect mirror of our modern world’s alienation from Nature which is destroying the planet? Each year America’s 22,500 cemeteries bury approximately:
- 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid (mostly formaldehyde)
- 104,272 tons of steel for caskets and vaults, enough to build another Golden Gate Bridge!
- 2,700 tons of copper and bronze for more caskets
- 30 plus million board feet of hardwoods
- 1,636,000 tons of concrete . . . enough for a 2-lane road between San Francisco and Phoenix!
It’s no wonder cremation has become so popular! Once you learn the facts, who wants to be buried in a modern cemetery? Cremation has its problems, however. Besides being a cold, industrial process done by strangers, cremation requires a fair amount of fuel and pumps a large range of waste products into the environment: vaporized mercury from dental fillings, dioxins which can cause cancer, etc.. If you plan to be cremated, ask your nearest crematory whether they use filters and have taken steps to become energy efficient. Let them know you are interested in greener cremation.
Natural burial at White Eagle is simply the return to what was once standard practice in this country. The goal then and now is the same: allow the body at death to rejoin the elements that gave it birth, to use what remains of a life to regenerate new life. Our burial sites are big and spacious, approximately 20 x 20 ft in size, little, wild, intact ecosystems which one can get acquainted with while alive and know they will nourish when they pass on. The large size of these sites allows us to find the perfect spot between a rock, a bush, a tree or a stand of native grass or wildflowers to create a grave like Ray’s below, lined with a herringbone pattern of sage, an act of beauty we like to do when time allows. We believe that in choosing natural burial one chooses to help end the separation between human and nature. And since we will have no separate sections for various religions as many cemeteries do . . . it is also a way of ending the separation that exists between cultures, races and belief systems, which are the root cause of war.
Conserving land through the perpetual endowment of natural burial grounds is an exciting and growing movement to protect and nourish damaged landscapes across North America. The Green Burial Council has taken a leadership role in this movement and we are certified by them as a Conservation Burial Ground, the greenest a green cemetery can be! We are the only one in the Pacific Northwest. Choosing natural burial is a way of saying YES to the transformation of the death care industry and the reclamation of a lost, simple and ancient practice. Returning our bodies to nature after we die honors the Earth, the deceased and the families and friends that love them both.
How we choose to deal with our body upon death is the final choice we make on Earth. We welcome a visit to White Eagle to see if this is a choice you would like to make!
“All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, and to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier.”
~ Walt Whitman, Song to Myself.
Sunrise over the White Eagle meadow, the wild cemetery sanctuary where no one is buried.