It’s not uncommon for people to request that when they die their body be cremated and their ashes spread in places of their choosing. Or, the ashes are to be placed in a wooden box and kept by the lucky family member appointed to decide mom or dad’s final resting place. In many ways, along with making burials more cost effective, cremation has a very spiritual aspect to the burial ritual. But recently I came across an article about a Japanese man who practices what he refers to as the dying art of Japanese sword making. Sword making has been his lifetime occupation and now at 67, he had been working with Chinese and Japanese swords for the past 30 years. According to him sword making is a dying art because sword smithing, like many of today’s crafts, are mass produced in a day or two. But what caught my interest was when he discussed what physical qualities in the old days made a sword more able to stand up in battle. It seems that before the human bone is burnt in the cremation process, it contains phosphorus. If human bones are added in the sword making process the phosphorus will mix into the metal and after burning a while, the metal will contain the phosphorus. According to him, it is not uncommon nowadays for the relatives of a deceased person to have a sword made with the addition of their deceased ancestors bones, as a beautiful artistic way to honor the deceased person.
After reading this bones to swords phenomena, my thoughts were in two categories. First, having a sword made of parents ashes sure makes more sense than a box of ashes spread somewhere, or passed on to children where the box is set on the mantel or kept somewhere out of the way. Second, my thought was to have mom or dad’s ashes part of a sword that could be kept above the fire place and used to keep the grandchildren in line when they come to visit. I can hear it now,” If you two don’t quit chasing around this house I’m going to get Grandpa down off the mantel and have him give you a smack on the butt! Oh, the possibilities of reincarnation and a second life for Grandpa!