The Church of Bones: Kutná Hora

Kutna Hora. Winter 2015. There’s an eerie spirit about this place. It’s quiet and mysterious. Peace is felt in silent reverence for the dead, on flowers placed atop cemetery graves, and whispers. 40,000 skeletons of forgotten humans decorate and furnish a church that gives this small town fame. We are here to see and believe it.

The Church of Bones is a sacred place and a labor of love–made of humans, by humans, for humans–and meant to connect us with our mortality, which can feel quite unreal most of the time.

The ossuary brings us face-to-face, or skull-to-skull, with the often unspoken, imminent end of own our existence. Some would call it morbid or creepy, but there is something liberating about accepting and confronting death. When you do, everything else seems trivial; living deeply becomes paramount. If we can let go of fear, death teaches us how to live.

Outside the ossuary, life goes on normally, though everyone appears to be moving a little slower than in the world I’m used to. We wander and get coffee, but I hear a melody–at once sweet and sinister–like a dark lullaby, and run to it.

I peer through the diamond of a chain-link fence and try to catch the voices in action without being noticed. A group of women and young girls are holding hands in a circle outside behind an old building, under the shade of trees. Spinning in circles, singing, laughing, chanting together in harmony, the parallels to a coven come easily. I leave the witches to do their thing and feel convinced that Kutna Hora holds a world of magic and secrets.

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