Natural Burial: An Introduction
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 after death to rejoin the elements, to use what remains of a life to regenerate new life.
Conserving land through the perpetual endowment of natural burial grounds is an exciting and growing movement to protect and nourish landscapes across North America. We are certified by the Green Burial Council as a Conservation Burial Ground, and a founding member of the Conservation Burial Alliance. Choosing natural burial is a way of saying YES to the transformation of the death care industry and the reclamation of a simple and ancient practice. Returning our bodies to nature after we die honors the Earth, the deceased, and the families and friends who 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!
Our low density burial sites are 20 x 20 ft in size, which allows us to find the perfect spot in the forest without compromising root systems or native plants.
We encourage people who are pre-planning to come out and choose their own place in the forest, although we are happy to choose sites remotely as well.
We also host burials at need, although because we prepare grave places by hand, the scheduling of a burial may depend upon weather factors and preparation time.
The body is wrapped in a biodegradeable shroud or simple casket or basket, and then is lowered into a 3-4 foot deep grave place, which our stewards prepare by hand with pickaxes and shovels and love, and decorate with forest and garden elements.
Family and friends often choose to actively participate in the burial service, the closing of the grave, and decorating of the burial mound, which can be a deep act of service and meaning. This allows community to authentically engage and honor the unique spirit and personality of the person they are burying, and to perform the ancient human duty of laying a loved one's body to rest in the earth.
All goes onward
and outward, nothing
collapses, and to die is different from what
—Walt Whitman, Song to Myself
A site reservation marker
Beginning to prepare a grave place
Site preparation depends on the earth we are working with, and can take between 3-12 hours of work.
A fall oak leaf mandala prepared by founding WEMP steward Jade Scherer.
Sage from nearby Rock Creek, wolf lichen from the forest, and rose petals from the garden.
Elcampagne, sweet peas, borage, and sunflowers from the Ekone garden.
A shroud burial
Family making beauty during a burial.
some grave mound decoration
burial mound near the meadow