I am outside near a bunch of people. Then a man goes up to a woman and hugs her. Another woman goes to a woman and hugs her. I realize they are doing this because they are working with the individual helping them with issues of relationship. The woman comes up to me and touches me on the shoulder I am scared and feel uncertain. Another woman comes up and touches my arm. I think what are they doing I am not sure I like this. Then another woman and another woman and they circle me just touching me.
Darkness slowly absorbs the late afternoon horizon as I stand watch over my friend who has chosen to walk the death march as a ceremony of death and birth. Anxiety rises as I too ready myself for the same walk. Prior to this day months of groundwork both in body and spirit have taken place to prepare for this ceremony. I was undeterred in this endeavor, thinking it would be a cakewalk because I have participated in a death ritual before. But now this ceremony seems charged with an unusually potent type of energy. Now after standing watch over my grove members a silent panic begins to overtake me. Breathing slowly I settled back into the task at hand, guarding my friend who now lies in wait to be reborn.
Earlier that day our grove journeyed together for guidance to design the death ceremony. For me it was a surprise and honor to be given the role of watcher/guardian of each person who walked with death. I became the guardian... sitting with each person in the dying experience, in their burial experience. Feeling the weight of responsibility, the need to hold the container quietly and do right by each person. Drumming each into death and then sit, stand, hold, pray, into the threshold of the ground which opens to the sacred seed planted in each of us and welcoming, uncovering and rejoicing in the birth that was to bring new life to each. Along with the earth burial there was the sky burial, a place of waiting for spirit to come from the sky and earth to nourish on the body while letting the air decay the old so the new can find a way home. So much questioning and doubt would surface in my ability to be a guardian/watcher each time a member of my grove was laid to rest. And as the witnesses spoke their words of honor and quietly left me with the dead I reach within for the strength of presence.
Watching over each person was such an honor, I witnessed the old making way for the new, a letting go and opening, prayers enfold and senses heighten. I am sitting and standing holding watch over you as you step through. Feeling the weight and the gift of the holding. Energy released in that place of the land. The crow fly’s, the raven knows, seeing them, watching them all. And then they are done and they come for me.
My time now came to die.
Standing I wait fear tightening the body as it overcomes me. Shaking, the body sharpens to the knowing and yet begins to sink into the grayness of death…..Let go. They prepare me for the grave. Cleansing me I feel the cloth washing my face and arms with gentle strokes reassuring me in some way. An experience of being cared for I struggle to let in. Seconds later I am standing on the edge being lower into the dirt and clay of the mother. The damp soil against my back welcomes me and still fear rises up. Okay so I am not dead, will I still be able to breath? A white cloth is draped over me as requested, while someone places a snorkel tube in my mouth and pulls the rest of the sheet over my head. I begin to take deep breaths, feeling the movement of the air passing through the tube to me and out again. All my expectations, wanting to die right, be strong plunge me into a hole of despair about my life. A moment of panic, will the air come back, will someone without realizing cover the snorkel hole and suffocate me. My trust goes out the window or should I say the grave for a brief second. How do I trust, how do I let go, how do I let myself breath, in and out, in and out..the air is there for me. Relief spreads out over my body and I realize I am okay, until the dirt starts to slam against my legs, torso and head. I feel the dirt as it pushes against my body, filling the place of connection to the atmosphere. I notice how even though my guardians maybe taking care in covering me with the brown clay of her skin it definitely feels like I am being buried. The last shovel full is thrown over my head extinguishing the last bit of light from above. Always fighting aren’t you a voice whispers in the wind and then I see her face.
The blackness of death, the pressure of the earth’s soil pressing down against me begins to call me back to her. I have stepped into the in between, the threshold of still being alive and yet calling to the death for acknowledgment.
In the distance whispered words spoken flutter in the wind my desires, my eulogy.
I will surrender to what I believe is possible
A voice gesturing towards wanting
I will surrender to the wild primal essence
Hands embraced, fingers dance intertwined
I will surrender to a life wrapped in uncertainty
Head pressured against skin soften by age
I will surrender to the light ignited by the pain
Wet lips savor the taste of intimate passion
I will surrender to a love that may not be known?
Bodies in contact converging to the sound of a single note
Cradled in the caress of a beloved.
Breathe…breath. what next, my song… quiet in my song..
Twinkle Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are. Why that song, I am supposed to find my death and birth song. Twinkle Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are…what is the rest of the song. But that song already exists. Feeling the heaviness grow more and more, pressure uneven across my body pushing down on me, suffocating me, entombing me. What is left God? Hang on all you have to do is breath. Breathe, just breath feeling the dirt on top of me. Remember the dream, visualize the women each touching me; remember those who love me…hold that as I drift further away. Pushing down on me, on me on me. What is left? It seems as though all that is left is my neck and head that is all I feel. The rest entombed, dirt thrown upon. There is nowhere to go but be right here for how long, I don’t know. Breathe…. My eyes are closed but why, I open them to darkness. And then close. What is left right now but me? What is this experience? Letting go, letting go. Trancing out. Feeling heavy, dirt pushes against me.
“Remember just be with the landscape and don’t worry about anything else”. Words I hear in the distance. Twinkle, Twinkle little star how I wonder what you are up above the sky so high twinkle twinkle little star. Why that song. I feel okay being right here. I don’t want to get out. How long has it been? Just breathe. I feel so little, spacey. Just be here, feel the dirt stay here, feeling everything holding me.
Getting comfortable, wanting to slow down. Words, images, a hairy man like yeti comes into my vision on the right. I see the sunset and rise… Bear is here what else. Breathe, just breath, biting down can’t move my arms but I don’t care. I just want to stay here, don’t need to move, feel okay in a way. The pressure holding me down, moving me down, don’t want to leave. How long have I been here, a lifetime, pushing me down, just hold me. Silence, complete silence is here. Do I want to die, is that why I don’t want to get out? I am not sure. Are they waiting for me, but who is really waiting? I remember her words from the email, is there something to come back too. Sink into nothingness and just be here without thought and wait until you are ready. Let yourself sink be still in this place of confinement. There is nothing else that matters except this moment as you breath.
I know I need to get out, but I don’t want too. It is time and in my resistance no, yes, no, yes, I start to reach up, feeling the pull back as my arm reaches up, I can’t move, push harder, I am weak, I can’t get up. I can’t breathe. I panic, the sheet won’t move because it is too heavy. Oh shit I can breath as the snorkel leaves my mouth, need air. The weight of the dirt on the sheet, on the body shuffles around but not off. And then I heard his voice, he is there, yanking, pushing, and reaching for me. And then the breath, the cool air, okay, now I am okay, tugging the rest away, and hauling myself up I can do this. He reaches me and draws me up with the help of others. I rise to a celebration of my awakening, to another day. I speak the words of the journey, sip the nectar of the earth and share the seeds of my birth that I planted within.
It is time to begin again as the cycle turns.
What is in a death, the simple act of saying yes to a birth? What is in the acknowledgment of the darkness the simple act of saying yes to awakening? What is it to recognize the dream’s wisdom, the simple act of beholding the love? What is in the dirt and stones, what is in the water and air, what comes from the fire? The simple knowing that, I have been held by the mother. The simple teaching that I had to die in her embrace to know the ancient pure love that is offer. It is to remember this first love that with awaken me to all love.
And the journey here started with a dream.