We think of graveyards as a place to put our loved ones to rest, to attend funerals, and to visit and lay flowers on anniversaries, but there are some things you might not have done in a cemetery. You might want to give these a try!
(me as an historical ghost tour guide)
A lot of historic cemeteries offer tours. Why would you do this? Because they do a wonderful job. Many of them wear period costumes, take you around to the famous or infamous graves and learn a lot about the town.
Some states' cemetery associations list the cemeteries they need inventoried, but you can also check places like this one online. You can go to a cemetery that hasn't been accounted for, take photos, write down the grave information and submit it. It's a wonderful way to help out.
It sounds odd, but my friends and I sometimes do picnics in cemeteries. It's a peaceful place to lay out a blanket, have a lunch in peace and quiet and contemplate things. Plus, for the spiritual types, this can be a communion of sorts, allowing a very pleasant activity to be shared.
(January 2010 - Julie and I meet at Pioneer Cemetery to clean-up the place and have a ghost hunt and picnic! - three of these listed!)
Bring a large trash bag and a handful of flowers. Leave flowers on the graves of those long-forgotten and no longer visited because they are so long gone. Say their name out lout. Now, go around and set vases upright, pick up trash, and leave the place knowing that you attended to those who were unable to do so for themselves.
To make: Take metal wire hangers and straighten them out or you can get a 20" very heavy gauge wire. Mark it 5" in and bend it at a right angle (a vice works nice for this or countertop edge). Make two of these and you now have dowsing rods.
How to use: Hold rods lightly in hands, elbows at your waist, arms bent at 90 degree angle so forearms are parallel with ground. Do not place your thumbs over the bend in the handle. Do not grip too tightly.
Finding the dead: Walk over the grave. The rods should cross. They should uncross when walking off the gravesite.
Determining age: Standing at head of the grave, take a step towards the feet end. Count your steps. If the rods cross after 1 step, it as a baby, 3-4 steps a child, 5 steps an adolescent, 6 or more steps, an adult.
Gender of the dead: Stand in the center of the grave, hold one rod over head. If it points to the head of the grave, it is a female. If it points to the feet of the deceased, it is a male.
The fun thing about dowsing practice is going to a cemetery with others and then doing this without a glance at the headstone. Don't see the age or sex of the occupant and let others watch you do it. It can have very interesting results, though I can't say why in the world it has such accuracy.
I hope this had you thinking of graveyards in a new way. They are gorgeous memorial parks, worthy of some of your best photographs, as well....