Ashes may be imposed on the heads of participants in the Ash Wednesday service as a sign of mortality and penitence. The ashes are imposed with the words, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (BCP, p. 265). Ashes are typically imposed by inscribing a cross on the forehead. The imposition of ashes has been practiced on Ash Wednesday since the ninth century.
Imposition of Ashes
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.