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Peace Forest – Burials and Sources

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I went for our Sunday afternoon walk to a forest directly north of the city of Berne, the Bremgartenwald. She wanted to see the Glasbrunnen, a source in the midst of the forest said to be a power-spot. First I was a bit skeptical, for the ring highway goes along the forest and I also expected lots of city people going for a walk there.

Stone cat near the forester’s station

However, after having crossed the highway bridge the sounds of the cars soon faded away. We passed along a “duck pond” full of duck weeds, but without any ducks around (only a heron).

We crossed another parking for the larger part of the forest. At the entrance there was a signpost telling that this forest is now also a “peace forest”, a “Friedwald“: There is an initiative to create places in forests, where the authorities permit that you place the ashes from cremations. The foresters reserve part of the forest, and when you want they mark a tree for you where you can have a tree of your own to bury the ashes and have a memorial place. They guarantee that the place will be kept intact for several decades.

A very good idea, though not cheap, but they use the money for the forests. There are now 60 peace forests in Switzerland. Friends of mine had just buried the ashes of their father just in a “normal” forest, in an early morning ceremony…

On the way to the Glasbrunnen we saw people with bottles or jerrycans coming from the source. And the folks I had expected: Joggers or Nordic-walkers running with strained faces, i-pods in the ears to close out the silence of the forest. And cyclists on racing bikes, eyes straight ahead – using the forest as a substitute for a racetrack: “Sport is good for your health, sport is good for your health, sport…”

The source itself is located in a little vale with a brook running through. Children were playing at the creek and dogs were having a bath in the water trough, but jumped out when we came. There was a magic spell around the place, with the high trees and the murmuring well. Someone had put flowers over the spout, like from a little water ceremony:

We drank some water, it tasted very fresh and soft. We sat on a bench for a short meditation. The evening sun sprinkled spots of light through the trees, and sometimes there were steps from people filling their bottles with living water.

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