A Pictorial Memoir of the Pixie Land Fairy Castle

I recently came across the Pixie Land Fairy Castle on an evening walk along the Ronan Park River Trail. (If he stays still, I might not spot him …) The Castle featured colorful flags, judiciously-placed pinecones, an array of painted stones and several fairies. Sadly, when I visited the spot last night, the Pixie Land … Read moreA Pictorial Memoir of the Pixie Land Fairy Castle

“By the River”: the Death Hotels of Varanasi

For the people of Varanasi – the holiest of India’s seven sacred cities – death is a blessing. Stretching along the banks of the river Ganges, Varanasi is a place where devout Hindus go to die in the hope of achieving moksha: freedom from the endless cycle of death and rebirth (samsara). ‘Death hotels’ provide a … Read more“By the River”: the Death Hotels of Varanasi

“My Dead Mother, the Tree That Never Was: The Psychology of ‘Green Burial’ Practices”

Jesse Bering writes for the Scientific American on the psychology of green burial practices, especially regarding the psychological mechanism of essentialism: I’ll go out on a limb here and say that even if one doesn’t believe in some ethereal or religious version of the afterlife, it’s rather difficult to escape the cognitive illusion that the … Read more“My Dead Mother, the Tree That Never Was: The Psychology of ‘Green Burial’ Practices”

“Mourning and Remembrance Without an Afterlife Safety Net”

Columnist Lincoln Andrews writes for OnlySky on the secular memorial rituals he performs for his son, Josh: As a secularist, I don’t have the faux comfort of a heavenly reunion to fall back upon. As a realist, I accept that everybody, save the very famous, is forgotten within two generations. (Got a deep reservoir of … Read more“Mourning and Remembrance Without an Afterlife Safety Net”

Imaginology

Professor Stephen Asma writes for Aeon on the potentials of a science of the imagination: Philosophers like Ernst Cassirer and psychologists like Jung focused on the ritual or visual symbol (rather than literal language) as a way of enacting meaning. Images, objects and rituals of mythopoetic cognition are imperative rather than indicative. If we’re immersed, … Read moreImaginology

‘Being the Smoke’: One Man’s Choice to Be Cremated Under the Open Sky

Ruth Graham writes for the New York Times on Dr. Philip Incao’s cremation at Crestone, Colorado, which is currently the site of the only outdoor funeral pyre in the USA: Dr. Incao’s ceremony began with family members and friends laying juniper branches and flowers on the body. Incense burned in a terra cotta pot tended … Read more‘Being the Smoke’: One Man’s Choice to Be Cremated Under the Open Sky