Sky Burial to a British Standard
Sky burial has a certain appeal. Who would not want to be eaten by birds? Better than those faux velvet curtains at the crem and a chipboard coffin with plastic handles. Hold on, its not quite so simple. Firstly, it’s not legal here. Secondly, chances are you will take a load of medication before your final breath and the birds would be poisoned. It’s not quite the environmental and spiritual ending some might seek. Sky burial to a British standard might be the better option.
The British Have Form
As soon as I write sky burial most people immediately think Tibet and vultures. It’s not a pleasant process as the birds need to eat all the bones and not just the meaty bits. Consequently, the entire body has to be chopped up and smashed into small pieces. People here were not short of hammers back in 2200 BC and yet chose another process, one, shall we say, less crushing. Lots of people were dying but cremation pyres needed far too much wood. Burial was discounted because, with wolves about, a deep grave was onerous when they only had picks made of antler. They needed an easier process, one that left them free to harvest, forage and hunt. They knew nothing of the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence in my photo, which also display bodies to birds in India.
Imagine how they tackled this issue? They would need an above ground body display platform, say four metres high. This would stop the wolves running off with a limb; the wolf, a quadruped now with five legs! They could then lay out the body; is that where the term lay out comes from? As a routine, the birds would expect the corpse. They could safely land upon the platform and readily take off, much heavier, when suitably gorged. That sounds like a standard but, of course, the people cannot write. Even if they could, they have no paper. If they sound unsophisticated then remember that it is us, in 2018, who pollute the skies with cremation emissions and have appallingly neglected cemeteries. The pagans managed their dead sustainably.
In my forthcoming book, My Pagan Ancestor Zuri, I explain why we find so few burials from prehistory. It’s because their disposal process, a form of sky burial, was much more efficient than ours. Was the spirit from the dead body absorbed by the birds so that it literally took flight? These pagans rendered the useless mortal flesh into ideal bird food of protein and fats. Don’t be too shocked at their ways! Our present funeral arrangements are so expensive that they are creating funeral poverty for many people. Much of that is due to avaricious business. Nonetheless, our huge population now has to dispose of over half a million bodies each year; that is too much, even for the birds.