The human mindset of separation from the Earth is so complete that even the dead are not allowed to return to her. Instead the body is embalmed like an Egyptian pharaoh, and then placed in a casket. The flesh, even in its need to disintegrate, to become soil, to feed the Earth, to return to her that which rightfully belongs to her, is instead sealed in a box with a rubber gasket and welded seams and then buried in the Earth.
Of course, nowadays many people are eschewing this practice, either because it is financially prohibitive or because they want to return their bodies to the Earth, either in a simple pine box, or in the grains of ash. It is a sign that the mindset is shifting in the deepest corners.
The return of the body to the Earth is an essential ritual. Your body belongs to the Earth in this moment, now, as you are breathing, and it belongs to the Earth when your breath leaves you.
To attempt to circumvent this transaction with embalming and welded-seam caskets is an absurdity. More than an absurdity, it is a subversion of the sacred relationship between the human being and Earth. The transaction is incomplete, misunderstood. The patriarchal mindset has not touched upon it. And science cannot either.
We have, in this long stretch of recorded history, denigrated the body and uplifted the spirit. The spirit is permanent, the essence of who we think we are, the thing that continues on after we have left the body. And the body is the vessel of the spirit, the container, the thing that will rot, cease to exist, the thing that holds us, betrays us, the thing that will not last. This is what the patriarchal mindset has held for centuries.
The damage this ideology has held upon the human experience of our great mysteries is deep and undeniable. We live in a world of duality. Both aspects must be honored. Honoring the spirit while denigrating the body is a misinterpretation of our experience. The body is equally sacred and beautiful and honorable because it will die. The body does not betray us, it brings us in sacred relationship with the Earth. We need to know we are in sacred relationship with the Earth, our great Mother, the matrix of all that we experience.
In this knowing we may marvel in our well-made existence, but more profoundly, we may know viscerally, powerfully, completely, that in life, we belong to Her, this Earth under our feet, this dark black soil, this salty ocean. And in that belonging the whole of her creation becomes our family: the roses and the oaks, the bluebirds and the crows, the leaping deer, the trickster coyote, the schools of fish, the great whales, singing, singing, singing.