How To Scatter Ashes

Jul 1, 2012 | 5 comments

The top of Sandia Mountain, on the eastern side of Albuquerque, is a popular place for ash scattering. I’m guessing the cremated remains of hundreds of people must be scattered up there.

Seeking relief from the 100-plus degree heat in Albuquerque, my husband and I went up to the crest for a cool 74 degree respite. While up there, I recorded this video with tips on what to do and not do when ash scattering.

How to Scatter Ashes

Ash Scattering Tips

  1. Cremated remains of an entire human body comprise 3-5 pounds of gritty calcium, about a coffee can’s worth. Avoid dumping it all in one spot.
  2. Scatter the remains in different directions, using a trowel, a cup, or your hand. Cremated remains are sterile, you don’t have to worry about germs or microbes.
  3. Unless you want to have ashes in your face, turn your back to the prevailing wind.
  4. You can scatter on your own land or other private land with the owner’s permission.
  5. On public land, it’s not against the law and it’s mostly a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation. While there are no cremation scattering police, avoid scattering in front of a park ranger.
  6. If you wish to obtain a permit for scattering in any of the national parks, search for the appropriate National Park website for more information. You can get permits to scatter in specific national parks, such as for Mt. Rainier and the Grand Canyon, by searching on the NPS website.
  7. Don’t erect a marker on the scattering spot. That is against the rules.
  8. On a boat, to avoid ashes in your face, keep the ashes contained in a biodegradable vessel that will dissolve in water. There are many options, such as paper, cardboard, woven grass, Himalayan rock salt, even wrapping the remains in large leaves.
  9. You may want to bring ceremony into the scattering with readings of poetry, psalms or prayers to recite before, during or after the scattering.
  10. As noted in an earlier blog post, avoid scattering on tribal lands. Cremation and human remains scattering is offensive to many Native Americans and taboo.
Ash Scattering on Sandia Mountain

Gail Rubin demonstrates scattering techniques on Sandia Mountain

Note: The western face of Sandia Mountain is considered sacred to the Sandia Pueblo tribe. Show your respect by keeping any scattering to the eastern side of the mountain. My demonstration on the western cliff side with garden dirt does not mean you should scatter on the western side.

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