Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Death Song

My friend is dying, and I am seeking advice on how to be with the power and sadness of her passing. I look through the Journey Oracle divination cards, letting any card come into my attention. I ask the most beautiful to choose themselves.

I think we all have taken a wrong turn in this modern culture that hides from death, and so we do not know how to be open and prepared to meet Death consciously. We may know we will stand in the light, but few of us know how to be in the dark ravine that leads to that vista.

I believe none of us want to suffer the often unbearable pain of terminal illness, yet there must be another way to get there, than to be made unconscious with sedatives in the name of comfort. What do the folk ways of our ancestors tell us about making a good death? Surely there was a time before our fear when we knew, and had help knowing, how to curl into a new seed.

During my time with Martin Prechtel at Bolad’s Kitchen, he told a story of how in Santiago Atitlan, neighbors would stop a pregnant lady in the village street to sing to the child in her belly. The baby would hear the community singing this same song as she was being born, and again the singing would hold her as an old woman when she was dying. Maybe we can begin to remember how to help those we love to die by remembering to sing to them—not just once but continuously so the song becomes a boat on a river of breath, carrying them into the view of friends and creatures with kindly eyes, on the other side.