Symbols - What does heaven look like
The skeleton is not in many cultures looked on with such dread as it is in western society.
It takes its symbolism from bone.
By extension, therefore a skeleton is the body reduced to the essentials of soul and form – almost to what we were given at birth. It is thus also a symbol of rebirth [see Types of spiritual experience].
Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy
As we shall see when we come to study the shaman’s costume, in the spiritual horizon of hunters and herdsmen bone represents the very source of life, both human and animal.
To reduce oneself to the skeleton condition is equivalent to re-entering the womb of this primordial life, that is, to a complete renewal, a mystic rebirth.
On the other hand, in certain Central Asian meditations that are Buddhistic and Tantric in origin or at least in structure, reduction to the skeleton condition has, rather, an ascetic and metaphysical value – anticipating the work of time, reducing life by thought to what it really is, an ephemeral illusion in perpetual transformation
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