Dancing With Death

Death. It is a word that strikes fear in many hearts. To many it is an ending and it is eternal. To others it is a new beginning. Your beliefs, thoughts and feelings dictate which one you adhere to.

It wasn’t so long ago that our ancestors were intimately familiar with death. They prepared the fallen, they prayed over their bodies, they dug their graves or they put them on a pyre, sent them out on the water and burned them. In our society today we are disconnected from such things. We are seldom present at someone’s death and if we are we are affected deeply, yet, we do not understand why. We find it traumatic. Normally, the body of the dead is taken elsewhere, prepared for burial or cremation and a ceremony is held to honor the person who is now gone. Those left behind are left with an emptiness that can take years to go away. I have always said that I am a selfish person. I am selfish because although I know that the one that is gone is not so far away they are not physically here for me to laugh with, cry with, hold, touch. I can no longer enjoy their physical presence and I always want them back so I can do all of those things with them once again.

My beliefs are that death is not an ending but rather a new beginning. Our soul is eternal. We leave our physical bodies behind but we move into a new dimension where we are no longer the human that those left behind remember. Rather we are pure love, pure energy and we are free of the daily grind in which those of us here call living. I very seldom cry for the dead, instead I cry for the living, those that are left behind. I cry because we are left to continue on without the one we loved. To find our way without their laughter, smile, and hugs.

In my “about me” section of this blog I talk about being gifted with walking the dead to the gates. My dance with death began many years ago, although I did not realize it at the time. As I have walked my path I have made it a practice to light a candle for those that are in the process of crossing over. I say a prayer and I light the candle asking that their journey be filled with love and that their crossing be filled with ease. I also ask that the light of the candle be a guide for them to the otherside. I have done this for nearly 20 years. My family knows that if there is a candle on the mantle and it is lit that it is not to be extinguished nor touched. The candle burns until their Spirit has crossed. I always did this out of love. Love for the friends that came to me and told me they were losing a loved one. Love for the friends that were crossing. I was never instructed on how to do this or that I should do this, I simply followed my heart and my intuition.

Thinking back over the years I see now that my dance with death began way before I recognized what it was. The turning point was when my father died. I was utterly and completely devastated. I could write a whole blog just on how remarkable my dad was as a human. He was not perfect in any way but he was a remarkable human who made a huge difference in my life. When he died my whole world shifted. I had already been in my shamanic training for a couple of years and one of the things I was taught was how to communicate with loved ones that had crossed. I know that sounds weird and I know that it isn’t really something that can be taught but during my training the ability became something I could do. I couldn’t do it with my dad. There was to much pain. To much loss. I didn’t want to see him or hear his voice again because that would make the loss fresh and new again and losing him was by far one of the most difficult things I have endured in my life.

Then my father in law died. I attended his death. Literally. I took care of him during the last week of his life. 24 hours a day my husband and I took care of him until his last breath. I was actually the one that walked into the room after his last breath. I said my good-byes and then went and told my husband that his dad was gone. As I was walking into his room, just outside his door, I was shown a very clear vision of a white light. I was filled with it and at the same time I was filled with a feeling of complete and utter peace. I knew before I got to the bed that he was gone. There was no question in my mind.

During my training we are taught a death ritual. I knew that my father in law was going to die so when we were preparing to go stay with him I took the items I would need. After his death, with the permission of both his son and wife, I performed the ritual. It was life changing on many levels. I am not going to share all that happened during that ritual but I will tell you that it opened my world up and I began my dance with death fully and completely. My life has not been my own since that fateful day.

Samhain is a holy day in the pagan path. It is a day when the veil between the worlds is thin and most often practicing pagans honor their dead. A month after my father in law died it was Samhain. I decided that to honor my ancestors I would journey. Little did I know that I would open wounds that had not healed and heal them all in one journey. On this journey I finally came face to face with my dad. It literally rocked my world. It was one of the most amazing, heart wrenching, fulfilling meetings I have ever had in the Spirit world. He gave me a lot of things to think about and he gave me messages for my mom. From that moment forward there was no doubt in my mind that my dance with death would be what my journey in life would be about.

In our society death is symbolized by the grim reaper. It strikes fear in many hearts. In my work death is a woman, dressed in a white flowing dress. Her hair is raven black, her face glows in beauty and her hands are the most amazing hands I have ever seen. Her fingers glow with a silver and purplish color. They can heal a soul with a touch and they can take a soul. She is pure beauty.

Shortly after meeting Her for the first time I was told that my job is to walk people to the gate. I didn’t understand at first. Then I had friends die. I began to understand very quickly. I would receive a feeling or what I call a “knowing” that someone had died and then I would receive a phone call that indeed that person had passed. I would immediately be pulled to an iron gate. I can see it as plainly as I see my computer screen. I would stand in front of the gate and there would be a gentle breeze. The direction in which the breeze was blowing would be the path I would walk down. I would walk the path and there I would find the person that had just passed. I would take their hand and walk them to the gate. At the gate I would tell them the message that I have been given for them personally and then I would stand and listen to all that they had to say.

Some say that they are not ready to go, their work is not done. Others are happy to be leaving. Those that are not ready to go I sit with. I explain that although they do not feel that it is their time Spirit has other things for them to do and indeed they need to walk through the gate. I then listen to their messages for their loved ones. I have yet to walk someone over that does not leave a message for those left behind. Some of us left behind want to hear the message and others don’t believe or just can’t handle it. Either way I honor the living’s decision on whether to deliver the messages.

Once the messages are given I walk them to the gate. I hold their hand until they are ready to walk through. Usually I can see a beautiful array of lights on the other side of the gate. For me this is very comforting. I know that those lights are our ancestors standing there waiting to greet us. Eventually one light shines brighter than the others and I can hear a whisper and I know that it is time. As the soul crosses through the gate it is the most amazing sound of joy and feeling of peace that anyone could possibly feel. I am honored to be a part of the process.

When my husband was diagnosed with cancer I became his caretaker. Being a caretaker is exhausting work. It is rewarding in many ways because there are memories that would never have been made had I not been taking care of him but taking on the role of caretaker is not for the weak. You literally watch the person you love slowly fade away. Their light becomes weaker day in and day out. Your heart breaks and re-breaks over and over again. It is a pain filled journey as you slowly say good bye to the one you love.

I was blessed in the fact that my husband carried the same beliefs as me regarding death. He did not fight it when the time came. There was no reason to hold on when he knew that he wasn’t going to just cease being but rather he was off to start a new adventure.

I experienced things that I never thought I would experience through his process. Some good and some confusing but overall it was a beautiful experience. He was surrounded by people who loved him. He absolutely knew that he was loved and for him, that was huge. I believe it was one of his main life lessons.

Upon his death we all said our good-byes. In my home we honor our ancestors. Without them we would not be here. They are important to everyone in our home. My husband now joined the rank of ancestor. We believe that our ancestors guide us and protect us. We believe they are always walking with us and in turn we with them.

Because our ancestors honored their dead we felt it necessary to do the same for Mike. We loved him while he was here and we knew that he would never leave us but his physical body was all that was left to represent his journey on this earth. I chose to wash him. I used essential oils and water and washed his body in preparation for him leaving from head to toe. I combed his hair and then it was time to dress him. Our son picked his clothes that he would be cremated in and he stepped forward to dress his dad. Once his body was ready the crematorium took him away to be cremated.

I have shared this story with many people and usually the reaction is always the same, “I don’t think I could do that.” For me it was all about honoring the man that was such an integral part of my life for so many years. I would not have done anything different and I do not find it strange to have done it. It was a pure act of love on both my part and our son’s part. It was our last act of honor to him.

Over the last 11 months we have found many ways to honor Mike. He now walks with us and we know he is near. For me he is slowly fading away. This is not a bad thing it is a healing thing. It is time for me to move forward and he has brought me much healing over the last four months to enable me to do so. He will, however, continue to be with our son until they meet again.

I was honored by Spirit to walk my husband to the gate. It was life changing and intense because so many emotions flowed through me but how beautiful it is to see the one you love embraced by those that have gone before him. My dad was the one that waited for him and met him through the gate. I and everyone around during his death had little doubt who was there to greet him. We all knew, we all felt it.

My point in writing this post was not really to make it about me but rather to share my experience with death. I dance with death daily. She is always present and She is always showing me new things that I have yet to experience. I have a very intimate relationship with Her and I no longer fear Her.

This is the reason for this writing, death is not something to fear. It is not the end it is a new beginning and the more you embrace death the more beauty you find in life. Dancing with death is an experience that many are to afraid to embark on. We are disconnected from the death that surrounds us yet it is truly one of the most beautiful dances one can share.

May your dance with death be filled with the beauty and understanding of the precious life you live.

In Her Service,

Sage

Within The Cauldron

At the bottom of Cerridwen’s Cauldron it is dark. There is no light. Transformation happens within Her cauldron. It is never easy. It is never a walk in the park and it takes determination to peel the layers away so when you emerge from the darkness you are no longer the person who entered.

I have been within this Cauldron many times over the years but never like I have been in the last year and a half. It has been the darkest, most treacherous, heart wrenching, earth shattering trip within the Cauldron I have ever experienced and I am thankful.

Cerridwen is my patron Goddess. Many fear Her. I adore Her. She has guided me, taught me, loved me, knocked me on my ass, held my hand and always made sure that I knew that no matter what She is here. To many She is the Hag, to me She is the beauty that resides within this world. Not the beauty that we think of when we see a pretty picture, no, the beauty that lies deep within each of us. The beauty we are afraid to share because we carry so much pain and are afraid to love.

Fear is a nasty beast. We all have it. Most of us are afraid to open ourselves up to others for fear that we will once again be hurt. I have been dealing with this on a very personal level for a while now. It is hard to trust others with your heart. It is hard to trust yourself. The emotion of love is hard because so many times there is loss attached to it. Love itself is not painful. In fact, it is one of the purest, most amazing energies in the world but the emotion we attach to it can and does hurt. Usually because we attach expectations to it and when those expectations are not met we incur hurt.

In our society we tend to affiliate love with sex, passion, relationships. In reality love is an energy that flows throughout the Universe on a continuous basis. We feel it flowing every time we sit in nature. We walk away filled with a sense of wonder and peace, to me this is love. It is abundant and it is beautiful. We just misuse the word and we have redefined it’s meaning in a way that we now believe that love hurts.

As I have been working on emerging out of the Cauldron it has been a long, arduous trip. I have struggled with being without my husband, my best friend. I have struggled to find what makes me happy. It is funny how so many times you find happiness within another and when they are no longer here you no longer know what makes you happy. It is a journey of rediscovering yourself. Somehow you lost yourself in the love and the relationship with another. I have struggled with finding my footing, with my inner and outer beauty, to open my heart again, with trusting others, with letting go. I have struggled with life itself. I have searched for the blessings in life and I have found many. I continue to stay focused on the blessings all while struggling with my inner self.

I am not good with compliments. I can give them and mean them with all of my heart but receiving them is something I have struggled with for a long while. When someone tells me that I am awesome my first thought is that I am nothing special. When someone tells me I am beautiful it creates a reaction within that makes me cry. I don’t see it. I know that within I am a good person. I always strive to do the right thing. I always give all of myself but I have never considered myself to be anything but a normal person just trying to get through life. I can be a pretty sarcastic person (I know this is a defense mechanism) and when someone tells me I am beautiful my first reaction is “here let me loan you my glasses.”

I am learning. I am working on accepting the view that others have of me. In the process I am finding me again. I am finding that person that has been within for so long, the woman who knows what love is and is willing to give her all. I am finding me again. It isn’t easy. It is a daily struggle. Not because I don’t feel worthy but rather because I have to find my boundaries and not give up on myself.

Over the last four months I have started to dream again. There is great pain, at times, in dreaming. You see things you want and you strive to make them happen and when they fail you feel as though you are back in the bottom of the cauldron. It is dark, you fight to catch your breath, you scratch your way out and you emerge once again, changed. It has been a daily happening for me. At some point in every day I find myself thrown into the Cauldron again. I can hear Cerridwen cackling through the whole process and yet somehow when I emerge She is standing there telling me “Girl you got this and I am holding you up.” Transformation is painful.

Today, the Cauldron is deep and dark. Today, I struggle with letting go of another dream. Today, I let go. Today, I stand in the knowledge that I have done my best and my best was not good enough. Today, I realized that if you have to fight to make something happen that should happen easily then it just isn’t what it should be and you have to let go. Today, I am changed once again. Today, I let the love of the Goddess, the love of Spirit flow through me and show me the beauty of this world. It brings me strength. It gives me hope and ultimately it helps me emerge a new person. I am falling in love with this person I am becoming.

Shedding the old is not easy. It is our comfort zone. It is how we know to be. Yet, many times if we really look, those old ways bring pain, old comfortable pain. Letting it all go and stepping out of our comfort zone is not an easy way of being. You find yourself in awkward situations, you find yourself searching for how you feel about someone or something and the answers aren’t always clear at first. The world seems murky. With time though clarity comes and you see everything in a different light, your perspective has shifted and life is new and fresh again.

I know that each day I find something new within. I find that I can do all of the things I dream of doing. I can have the life I see in my visions. I can and I will. The Cauldron is dark and deep but Emergence is bright and beautiful. Soon Resolution will be here and the cycle will begin again, but for today, my trip to the bottom of the Cauldron has brought me into an emergence that is new, scary and exhilarating all at the same time. Letting go and becoming is a journey and my journey has really just begun. I see it, feel it and know it. I am embracing it and allowing the love to flow. Cerridwen is holding me up and showing me a beautiful new world, flawed and beautiful, just like me.

In Her Service,

Sage

This thing called life…

Let me start by saying I walk a shamanic path.  I have been following a pagan path for over twenty years and a few years ago everything shifted.  I was called out by the powers that be and in turn my world shifted along with how I do things.  It isn’t that there is such a large stretch to go from one path to the other but it seems that there is a large group of people that just have an issue with the word shaman.  So here I am following my shamanic path, if you don’t like it, oh well, it is what it is but ultimately it works for me on more levels than you can imagine.

With that out of the way, this last year has been a rough, heartbreaking, liberating, growing, in your face type of year for me.  It started with my husband going through chemo and fighting cancer, then losing the battle (do you really lose a battle or do you just move onto something better?) and me walking him over to the other side.

I am blessed because that is my greatest calling on this path, walking others over to the other side. It just happened one day and here I am, showing up and doing this whether I wanted to or not.  I think of it as a deep, abiding gift that Spirit bestows on me.  How could I not?  I mean, seriously, holding someone’s hand, hearing their final messages for their loved one’s, telling them how very loved they are, seeing them walk through that gate, knowing that their soul just went to pure love, how could that not be considered a gift? Believe me it is heart wrenching and beautiful all at once.  Especially when it is someone you truly love.

Onto today.  A couple of months ago I found an old love.  He tore my heart out and rocked my world in ways that I never thought possible.  It was a gift.  How can so much pain be a gift?  It was a gift because his actions forced me to grieve.  When Mike died I just didn’t.  I had to be strong for everyone around me.  I had to be strong to just get through my days.  Don’t get me wrong, I cried, a lot!  But I didn’t really grieve all that I had lost.  My best friend, my way of life, his laughter, his smile, all of the things that just made him, him and us, us.  I just didn’t.

Here I am 7 months later and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The pain is beyond words.  I don’t want to get out of bed.  I don’t want to eat.  Hell, I am not even sure I want to live anymore.  All because one person walked in and made me dream again.  One person made me laugh again.  One person brought me hope that somewhere out in this world there was still love.  Then that one person threw it all away. It opened all of my wounds up, the loss of my sons, my daughter, so many that I have loved and lost, my husband, what I perceived as my life. It hurt like nothing I have ever experienced before.  I do not think that I have ever cried as much as I cried those three weeks.  I don’t think I have known such pain, ever.

Grieving is not for sissy’s!  Real grief doesn’t just go away.  You just learn to live with it.  You learn to befriend it and find ways that you can walk with it rather than through it.  I learned this while grieving for my husband, the old love, the life I no longer have and the life I thought I would have.  Promises broken.  Grief shows up.  Life stops for a moment and then it starts to move again.

One day I woke up and had this all engulfing vision of me leaving.  Being who I am my first thought was “I don’t ever run so why would I run?” But that wasn’t it. Each day that all engulfing vision filled my soul, over and over again.  It just wouldn’t go away.  I could see it as clearly as I see my hands typing these words. I did what I always do, I took it to Spirit.  All was confirmed.  I was to leave, hit the road jack and don’t ya come back.  A new adventure!

That has been a couple of months or so now and I can’t say that I don’t waiver or that I don’t doubt.  I wake up some mornings and think “Oh my Goddess what the hell am I doing?  I am leaving everything and everyone I love behind to get into my car and just drive.  No destination, no real plans.  Just go!?”

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. She so wisely pointed out that I was not leaving everyone I love behind but rather going to see other people I love and share some of my time with them.  I can’t tell you how comforting that thought was and still is.

On the mornings that I wake up with doubt I sit with it.  I try to understand why the doubt is there.  This morning I realized that part of this is in the “letting go” of what I thought and hoped my life would be.  The other part is just me being human and as another friend pointed out this morning it is also “ego” wanting to stay in it’s comfort zone.

We get so wrapped up in our lives.  We have our families, our children, our friends.  We never want to lose any of them.  We hold onto our lives out of fear that we may lose someone or something.  We get stuck in our own little worlds.  We never want anything to change.  Our jobs are secure so we do the same things day in and day out and we call it living.  I know I did.  When Mike was still alive our lives were filled with love, laughter and a bit of normalcy.  Then he died and nothing felt right anymore.  We moved to a new house.  We have done everything we can to find “normal” again.  Then I realized that normal is not where I need to be.

I need to expand.  I need my heart to feel the mountains, oceans, trees, the dirt under my feet and the road under my wheels. I need those moments that take my breath away, like when I went to Oregon and on the drive there I saw the wonder of nature and Spirit. I need to see people that I love and care for, nurture those friendships and love them in ways I can’t from afar.  Hug them. laugh with them and just be.  I need to let Spirit guide me fully and in all things just as I have for what feels like forever.

This is no longer a “want” it is a deep seeded “need.”  It is a demand from Spirit to learn to be me again and to let life happen on it’s own terms.  I will find me in ways that I didn’t know existed.  I will open myself up more than I dreamed possible.  These are the things I am shown.  Yet, I am human and this thing we call life says that I am crazy and doubt seeps in.  I refuse to let it take control.  So here I go on an adventure that there is no destination to.  Here I go trusting that all will be exactly what it is suppose to be and I will be led to be exactly where I am suppose to be at the right moment.  Here I go learning to live, love, and laugh again.  Here I go living this thing we call life.

In a few months life is changing and I am embracing it to the fullest!  I just have to get the “normal” stuff taken care of first.  In the mean time I am loving those that are here and being me each moment of each day.  This thing called life is such a remarkable journey, don’t you think?