When the time comes for our spirit to leave the body the shell that remains is returned to the four elements: fire, earth, wind, and water. Many choose cremation as a way of giving the body over to fire, transforming it into ash. The ashes can then be scattered to the winds, the sea, a beautiful woodland floor. It gives some comfort to know that the remains of our loved ones will be surrounded and embraced by beauty. Part of the process may include a period of time for holding the ashes in a sacred container either indefinitely or until the time feels right to disperse them. Funerary urns have been used throughout history to protect and honor cremated remains of humans as well as animals. The urns can be kept in the home or garden, placed in a niche at a mausoleum, buried in the earth or carried to distant places. A funerary vessel offers the option of combining ashes of two loved ones or dividing ashes into smaller containers for extended family members to have and cherish.
Modern day urns can be a work of beauty and craftsmanship. A gallery in Graton California called FUNERIA works with various artisans to create beautiful urns of heirloom quality. The term “urn” or “vessel” is used to describe vases, bottles, boxes, cabinets, canisters or anything that qualifies as a funerary container for ashes. The vessels can be designed and personalized to be a reflection of the unique qualities an individual had in life. On the FUNERIA website they pose an intriguing question: “What will your urn look like?”. It’s an invitation to think creatively about the vessel you could design for yourself. Do you have a favorite artist or style that would best represent you? For material would you choose metal, glass, wood or clay? What shape, color, texture would your urn have? What visual story would you want it to tell about your life? Would it have a serious and thought provoking appearance or display your whimsical and playful side? Do you see it in your mind’s eye…. what could you imagine for your own beautiful resting place?
To see a portfolio of urns created by artists and artisans: