Odd Funeral Rites

In Latin and Greek literature, they refer to something called the Charon's Obol. This is a coin placed into the mouth of the deceased to pay the ferryman for crossing the river Styx in the underworld.

Sati, the outlawed practice of a wife throwing herself on her husband's funeral pyre was probably one of the extremes, but then so was burying servants with the Egyptian kings. How about a Viking Funeral of putting the body in a boat, setting it afire and pushing it out to sea? In India there was a practice of leaving the dead atop of towers for the birds to eat.

From here: The latest technology in funeral services is that of Swedish marine biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, who in 1999 patented the "ecological funeral," a meticulous cryotechnological process that does all the work of decomposition so that you won’t have to. The process begins with the reduction of the corpse to a fine powder that makes your dead self healthier for the environment. Next, scientists extract the leftover metals and send them off to be recycled – meaning that in your next life part of you may just be a Volkswagen Beetle. Finally, the remains are ready to be sent back into Earth – and you can be sure that Earth will be glad to have you, thanks to your biodegradable casket.

Reads on the subject:

There's an interesting book called Archaeology of Death: Charon's Obol that explains more on this intriguing practice.

Cemetery Stories: Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse After Death by Katherine Ramsland is an excellent book.

If you love graveyards and statuary, there is only one book to own. I study mine often and am fascinated with world-wide graves and amazing beauty. Beautiful Death by Dean Koontz (author) and David Robinson (photography) is a book I highly recommend to all people who love graveyards. It's a coffee table book your guests won't be able to put down.


  1. I think I want a viking funeral. ODIN !!!!

  2. Yeah, the viking funeral is my dream. I had just planned on giving away my organs, being cremated and divide the ashes between friends and family and let them decide where they want parts of me to be that have meaning to them or to me. Still, some of the ideas are pretty creative these days including being part of a sea reef or being mummified and put in a cave.

  3. Love this post! Hubby wants the Viking funeral, but I want to be made into diamonds. Oh yes, they do that. I will be the least vapid diamond in existence. ; )

  4. I think Viking Funerals are amazing. And if I could legally do it, I would... stupid rules....
    but, you know, I'd be dead, so I wouldn't go to jail for it....hmmmmmm.....


  5. Kateri, I've thought about that too, but as talented as I am, I can't light myself on fire and shove myself off into the water in a boat when I'm dead, so some living person is going to jail for it. Perhaps I should just pay some creepy neighbor to do it when the times comes and let him take the risk. I'm laughing my ass off thinking about the poor forensics dude who has to determine if I was dead when I was lit on fire or alive. Then, when he discovers I'm dead, he's like "why did this dude light this gal on fire after she was dead and shove her out into a lake filled with water?"

  6. Great post!

    I LOVE cemeteries!!!

    I want that book!!



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