Mainers may soon be able to leave this life in a blaze of glory, as a new measure would allow a Viking-style funeral ritual.
If passed, Maine would join Colorado as the only other state to allow the funeral ritual that is associated with Norse culture, the Sun Journal reported.
The Viking funeral pyre has been popularized by TV series and cult-classic movies, but is not widely practiced in the modern world.
The practice itself, which was an integral part of Norse funeral rites, was adopted in part because Vikings believed that the smoke would help carry the deceased into the afterlife. As part of the ritual, the body is prepared and placed upon an open-air pyre, and then cremated.
The proposal — LD 1074 — would allow nonprofits to conduct cremations by pyre, as long as the organization owns at least 20 acres. It would also restrict organizations from conducting more than one ceremony at a time, but would allow the cremated remains to be scattered on the property or in any appropriate and legal manner.
This initiative is backed by Good Ground, Great Beyond, which serves Maine’s midcoast. It strives to provide a fresh perspective on how to cope with grief after someone dies, as well as encouraging its customers to engage with the concept of death in a way that realizes the impact that each person has on the world.
“The intention for the land is to become a contemplative community sanctuary, scattering garden and space for open air cremation. Our mission is to gather minds and hearts together in ongoing and active support of making open air cremation an option available to the community,” the organization notes on its website.
A report from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Justice has found that outdoor cremations do not pose a significant health risk, and would have very little impact on carbon emissions if conducted in a woodland setting.
The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee has yet to schedule a hearing on the bill.