The « right return to the Source » for the Living after death?

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Humusation, the natural process of human composting, is a burial method that is inspired by the wonderful model of the forest. It opens the doors to a just return to nature and to other lives after our passage on earth. At our death, if our body is humusated, it will become, at the end of a natural metamorphosis of 12 months, a fertile soil ready to regenerate soils impoverished by human activity. Our body then becomes, not a destroyer, but a creator of resources… 

IN CONCRETE TERMS, HOW DOES HUMUSATION WORK? 

The first step is to welcome the body. Covered with a shroud, the mortal remains are laid out on a cooled stretcher in order to avoid the use of polluting substances for its preservation. Apart from this technical detail, everything is done as for a conventional funeral. 

The second step is humusation. The body is placed on a cozy bed of 20 cm of fine wood shavings, right on the ground, and then covered with about 2 other cubic meters of the same plant mixture, soaked with rainwater. The burial takes the form of a plant mound. A memorial plaque allows relatives to know where to come and pay their respects for one year. 

The third step is the symbiosis of the body and the earth. The « humusers » — the microfauna that lives aerobically only in the first 10 to 15 centimeters of the soil — come to carry out the metamorphosis of all the cells of the human remains into humus… as they have done for the leaves, the branches, the dead game as well as their dejections for millions of years in the forests. The undergrowth still smells of humus and the trees do not need fertilizers or chemical pesticides to grow. Inside the mound, the temperature reaches about 60 degrees, killing all pathogens. So there is no health risk! The humusation of a single human body will make the space self-fertile to plant 100 trees! Moreover, humusers render harmless all chemical and toxic molecules present in the body of the deceased by splitting their molecular chains… 

The fourth stage is the rebirth. Twelve months later, once the mourning process has been completed, the moment of passage to the space of remembrance can give rise to a symbolic celebration of the continuity of life… Some of the humus obtained will be used to make the space where the tree will grow self-fertile, in front of which loved ones will be able to pay their respects in a Remembrance Wood set up in each commune. The rest of the humus will be used to regenerate damaged soils in agroforestry. 

AN IMMINENT REALITY? 

For more than 6 years, the concept of humusation has been spreading thanks to the Metamorphosis Foundation for Dying and Giving Life. 

More than a hundred people in Belgium, France and Switzerland, who were already enthusiastic about composting their organic waste, were inspired by his publications to experiment with the principles of humusation — successfully and without exception — on their pets or livestock… from parrots to horses! 

To scientifically validate the humusation process, UCLouvain has started experiments on pigs since the end of 2018. Their report published at the end of November 2020(1) only shows that they did not follow the Foundation’s protocol and therefore cannot draw any conclusions regarding humusation. What can be read in the background is that humusation cannot be done anywhere, in any way and especially not by anyone… As the Foundation clearly advocates(2)!

Successful humusation requires, among other things: a mound built on living soil; fine, waterlogged mulch with a good carbon/nitrogen ratio (brown and green); sufficient moisture at all times; good aeration; and a twelve-month cycle. It is described in the book, Advocacy for Humusation, and on the website www.humusation.org.

On March 5, 2021, the concept was presented to Environment Minister Céline Tellier in a formal setting. It is important to remember that all the steps taken by the Foundation are the exclusive work of volunteers without any profit motive. Humusation is endorsed by an internationally renowned committee of compost experts and is supported by a growing number of people… simply because it re-enchants death and has essential environmental benefits for the future of present and future generations. You don’t need to be a great scientist to see this evidence… This is pure common sense! 

More than 50,000 people have signed the online petitions(3). Nearly 5,000 people have sent their Last Will and Testament to their local elected officials in support of humusation. It is very clear that there is a growing refusal among the population to choose between the grave and the oven. Nearly 350 of them have even taken at least a 250 € share in the cooperative in order to finance the infrastructure of the pilot center near Rochefort. They will welcome with dignity, during the farewell ceremony, the families of the deceased who have donated their bodies to validate the humusation. 

Waiting and waiting again before the political green light to launch these tests, is it not taking the risk that some people come to organize themselves to bypass the law and to implement what nature commands them… so much the slowness of the political authorities seems to them a total denial of democracy? 

The protocol of the Metamorphosis Foundation, sent to the cabinet of the local authorities in Wallonia in October 2020, allows to launch the experiments in view of the legalization of humusation, in full safety, in the respect of the rules of hygiene and in agreement with the families. This is, no more and no less than what has already been authorized on 6 human remains, as of June 2018 for the Recompose team in Seattle(4).

CAPITALIST LOGIC OR POLITICAL SLOWNESS? 

Why so many obstacles? The reason that seems to justify the stop for humusation of the administration of the Local Authorities and its Minister, Christophe Collignon, in Wallonia, is the will to make profitable the infrastructures of the crematoriums that could, at little cost, accommodate an annex room to organize aquamation. It is, according to the minister, an environmentally responsible practice… It consists of putting the naked body of the deceased in 300/400 liters of water with potassium hydroxide, in a pressurized pan at more or less 100 degrees for a few hours to dissolve the flesh. The resulting foul brown soup has no other option than to be flushed down the drain with all its inevitable pollution. What about respect for the deceased? As for the bones, bleached, they are reduced to powder to be given to the family in an urn… as for the cremation. This technique is derived from the rendering of animal corpses and no citizen has ever expressed the will to demand such a burial method. 

A GLIMMER OF HOPE? 

Minister Tellier suggested that the environmental impacts of conventional burial and incineration be measured and compared to those of humusation. This is an opportunity to finally tell the truth about the current burial methods, to demystify the greenwashing and to disclose the figures of the horror that the oven and the grave represent at the ecological level… 

To integrate humusation into our lives is to choose rebirth, to choose not to limit nature but to imitate it… and to live in perfect harmony with it. We have a collective duty to claim the right to return to the humus… from the roots to the tree tops. 

What’s next? See you in the next issue… 

Sandrine Wilson and Bertrand Vanbelle, ambassadors for humusation. 

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