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A Samhain Teaching: Born Into Life, Born Into Death

Posted on:  Oct 27, 2017 @ 10:31 Posted in:  Sabbats

The natural world and our human psyches turn toward the mysteries of death at Samhain. Cold and darkness descend upon the land, and the wild world shifts into decay and a death-like sleep. In many cultures, this time of year is marked by offerings and rituals to honor the dead, our beloved ancestors.

Death strips us to the basics: every breath is a miracle not to be wasted; every life is precious, sacred; and love, at the end of all things, is what remains.

Usually we don’t like to think about death. Most of us run as fast as we can from the frightening specter that decline and death conjure in us. It is the ultimate irony that the moment we are born into life, with our very first breath, we are also born into death. And we must live every moment, every breath, knowing that we will die, and that everything around us, all that we love and cherish, will eventually come to decay, to death, to dust.

Samhain teaches us that there is no hiding from death. It comes in the falling of leaves, the lengthening darkness and the cold grip of Winter. It comes in our remembrances of our beloved ancestors that have passed on. It comes in the wrenching of our heart as we witness a dear one slip from this world into the next. It comes with the graying at our temples, the sagging of our flesh and the unstoppable march toward our last breath.

And death comes with gifts in hand if we have the courage to show up raw and naked to our pain, losses and fears.

Death strips us to the basics:
that every breath is a miracle not to be wasted;
that each person, each creature and life form, is worthy, precious, sacred;
that life is oh so hard and oh so exquisite;
that pain and loss help us remember what we cherish most;
and that love, at the end of all things, is what remains.

Love is death’s most precious gift to us. Love, not money, possessions, career, social esteem and the many other alluring outer trappings of life, is the balm that soothes us in the face of death. Love is what connects us to those who have passed on. Love calls us to reach out and hold each other in our grief. Love is what joins us heart to heart and soul to soul to another. Love is our best offering from our Deep Self to the world.

Samhain is a time to contemplate the mysteries of death, not from a place of fear and resistance, but from an acceptance of death as a teacher and guide for the living. Yes we are born into life and born into death, and it is this very, inescapable fact that makes every moment so precious, fragile and bittersweet beautiful.

Death isn’t a summons to fear, it is an invitation to love, deeply, wildly, joyfully. And when death seeks us out at the end of our days, let our last breath be a prayer to love.

Excerpt from: A Path of She Book of Sabbats: A Journey of Soul Across the Seasons. Available in ebook and paperback--visit the Path Store.

Photo Credit: freestocks.org on Unsplash

Season of the Sacred Feminine: The Wild Winds of Change [podcast]

Posted on:  May 14, 2017 @ 13:13 Posted in:  Goddess, Podcasts

There are mysteries afoot, strong, beautiful counter-forces that whisper in our ears: the season of humanity is shifting. The Goddess is awakening within and without.

Photo Credit: Drew Coffman on  Unsplash

Our Whole, Holy Womanhood: A Death and Life Story

Posted on:  Feb 19, 2017 @ 20:43 Posted in:  Goddess

I was born into a world that didn’t teach me what it means to be a woman in accordance with my true, sacred feminine nature and power. Instead, it made me see my womanhood as weak, small and inferior, meant to serve and please others. It taught me that power was an outside force, defined and imposed by others, that belonged to the realm of men.

Though I started my adult life on the wrong track, seeking my place and power in a masculine-defined world as an educated, career-focused business woman, my deeper Self had another plan that set me on the path of reclaiming the lost fragments of my whole, holy womanhood.

Our whole, holy womanhood is powerful, with the ability to hold the light, dark, life, death, beauty and wounding of our personal story and shared humanity.

I did feminist graduate studies, ran my own gender-equity consulting business, read countless books on women’s ways and Goddess theology, spent countless hours in therapy and personal development, moved away from the city to a small, rugged island to reconnect with Nature, practiced magic, went to witchcamp, and became a priestess, dreamer and daughter of the Goddess.

Still something essential was missing, connected to the dark, death powers of my sacred feminine nature. This is the story of when this precious fragment returned to me.

It’s the early hours on the day of the Winter Solstice. I jolt awake with the word “miscarriage” screaming in my brain. I dash to the bathroom to find blood coming from me that isn’t supposed to be there at week eleven in my pregnancy. My partner soothes me, and calms me down enough to take me to the hospital. Later that morning, an ultrasound confirms that our baby has died — a child we had consciously conceived and desperately wanted.

Our midwife gives us a choice: to stay in the hospital for a procedure or to let things run their course at home. I’ve been down this road before, having miscarried five years earlier. No one had told me then that thirty percent of first-time pregnancies end in miscarriage, nor prepared and coached me for this eventuality. We had gone the hospital route, and the experience had been disorienting and disempowering. This time would be differently; I would tend my own miscarriage.   

In the darkest hours of the night, in the turning before the new dawn, my womb begins to convulse, releasing the dead life within. For hours, with each release, I collect the tissues of our child in a one-quart mason jar, not knowing which would have been his perfect face, his beating heart, his tiny body, his reaching hands, and his sweet toes. There are no eyes for me to close, or lips for me to kiss goodbye. This indistinguishable flesh, mixed with my life-giving blood, is all my partner and I have to mourn and bury.

In the midst of my keening grief, I remember myself — witch, priestess, wise woman — Holy Whore, Holy Reaper — midwife to both life and death moments with the powers of creation and destruction within my living womb.

The “read more” link below will take you to the SageWoman Blog page.

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When Death Arrives On Our Doorstep: A Samhain Primer for These Times [podcast]

Posted on:  Nov 13, 2016 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Podcasts, Sabbats

Be the sacred witness who honors the stuff of life — the angst, longings, beauty, horror, struggle, and triumphs — as the crucible of our greater becoming.

Photo Credit: Shellyse Szakacs

When Death Arrives On Our Doorstep: A Samhain Primer for These Times

Posted on:  Nov 12, 2016 @ 11:25 Posted in:  Sabbats

Listen to the Podcast.

My friend comes home after an evening of dancing and moving energy with her activist friends.  She’s exhausted from an intense week of community gatherings — first a Samhain ritual in honor of the beloved dead, with so many passing this year and so much collective grief in the air, and now tonight, a passionate, full-embodied group prayer for peace and justice.

Be the sacred witness who honors the stuff of life — the angst, longings, beauty, horror, struggle, and triumphs — as the crucible of our greater becoming.

All of this was a preparation for what awaits her. Death has arrived on her doorstep.

Two four-point bucks, with their antlers impossibly locked, are wound together in a huge piece of seine fishnet. Her car headlights illuminate them in the darkness. She bears sacred witness to these beautiful wild beings, heart wide open and broken, as they thrash violently all over her property for an hour, unable to free themselves.

The bucks are exhausted, terrified. Fortunately she has a friend who is a gentle hunter. When he arrives, he’s able to take clean shots, killing the bucks instantly and saving them from an agonizing death. Strangely, in their dying the second stag lands on the first. In death, the combatants lie serenely on top of each other, like a pair of sleeping cats.

As sacred witness and gentle hunter, these two friends speak to the fallen bucks, pray for them, and mourn their passing.

The image of the bucks and the story I’ve just shared, in the words of my friend, appear in my Facebook feed. I stop what I’m doing, my heart wide open and broken, understanding that these bucks have gifted my friend, our community, this world, with a powerful vision that speaks to the tumultuous change of these times.

I too have been sacred witness this week, at our local Samhain ritual. In this role, I sat veiled and silent, dropped into the deep dream of our magic, watching between the worlds as the names of the dead were spoken, and our community danced a spiral in honor of the blessed newborn.

Here I saw the dead, not just from our community but a thousand souls drawn to our ritual fire, making their crossing in the light of our honoring and love. And as our spiral dance built to a peak of energy, my body became a birthing mama as a thousand newborns passed through me, through our magic, into the world.

Another powerful vision that speaks to these times: a thousand deaths for a thousand births — we are living an epic death-rebirth moment.

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