Exploring the Symbolism of Scattering Ashes

Scattering the remains of your loved ones can be a powerful act of letting go. But even more than that, it can also be a meaningful representation of sowing new seeds in the spirit of moving forward and celebrating the infinite nature of life itself. Read through this quick overview on exploring the symbolism of scattering ashes and gain more insight into this beautiful funerary practice.

Moving Forward

There’s rich symbolism behind our need to say goodbye to the deceased through ceremonial gestures. However, there’s power in the custom of scattering the ashes of the deceased. And perhaps the most apparent symbol behind this meaningful ritual is letting go of what you lost in the pursuit of moving forward.

And for some people, scattering ashes can be much more poignant than a traditional burial. It lends those grieving the ability to choose where their loved ones will find their final resting place, rather than confining them to going to a specific location. In any case, scattering the deceased’s ashes can be a potent gesture that symbolizes the act of moving forward.


In another context, the act of scattering ashes can also represent the sowing of seeds. In a tangible sense, the physical movements involved with scattering ashes closely resemble the gestures associated with sowing new seeds. In a spiritual sense, when one plants new seedlings, it’s a welcoming invitation for a new, vibrant entity to burst forth from the corporeal death of a seed. So, whether you’re casting the ashes out onto land or water, the act serves as a powerful representation of your loved one returning to the earth so that they can rise again as something new and beautiful.


In exploring the symbolism of scattering ashes, you’ll likely discover that when you cast them over a body of water, scattering these remains becomes a striking metaphor for the infinite nature of life’s cycles. If you take a moment to contemplate this idea, you’ll realize that water is constantly in a state of death and rebirth. It drops down from the sky, collecting in oceans, streams, and even puddles. It quenches the thirst of plants, animals, humans, and even the earth.

Then, it evaporates and goes to the sky once more to start the whole process again. And in a lot of ways, this mimics the beautiful, cyclical nature of life. Overall, scattering ashes over water is a prevailing symbol of life coming full circle. You don’t need to look at death as an ending. Instead, it can mark a new beginning for those moving on to the next steps in their lives.

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Written by Leigh Ann Newman

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