A few weeks ago I took my 11 year old daughter shopping with me with the intention of going to try
on a dress I had fallen in love with. It had the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration splashed over
a tutu and a bodice. Skeletons partying till they
dropped. I loved it. I wanted it. Sadly at 46 I no longer fit into a size 8, which was all that was left, but my 11 year was also instantly besotted and as it actually fitted her, I wrestled my envy to the ground and bought it for her instead.
At least that way I get to enjoy it as an art work. A
few weeks later we went to a party, around enlightened,alternative sort of folk. The first comment which greeted her about her newly acquired dress was, “Wow, that’s a scary dress!” Much the same as the standard response to telling folk you are about to dig your grave and get in it for the night. Having done this ceremony twice and made a point of making sure I told as many people as possible, I only met one person who was incidentally, also a plant shaman, who was enthusiastic about the prospect.
Having had cancer, more than once, I also know quite a bit about people’s responses to the prospect of being terminal. Funny that, the effect Death has on us Western people. So, fellow warriors just give yourselvesa massive pat on the back for the enormous transformative gift you
have just offered the collective. The morphogenetic field just got BRAVER. Well done guys and gals.
For anybody who isn’t entirely sure what I’m whittering on about I just got home on Tuesday from the week long Burial ceremony which Ya’acov, David and Sian have been holding at Rill Farm in Devon. Although I wasn’t that afraid, as I gathered many of my companions were, it was
nonetheless a strong, intense ceremony.
The first time I had participated in the exercise of spending a night within (and under) the Earth, it
was presented to me as an opportunity to be in conversation with the Big Mama and to really let
ourselves be known by her. As a child of around 9, my own mother was treated for a supposed psychotic breakdown, because after years of refusing her gift of being able to hear the dead’s insistence upon asking her to take messages to the living, she began to have
communications from nature, which were so powerful that they blew her rational Western conditioned state out of the water. After almost killing a Stag with her little Volkswagen beetle, one day, on her rounds as a district nurse in the
Highlands, now trees too began demanding her time and attention. It was all too much for my Dad, an avowed atheist, who called the Doctor, to have her medicated.
I took to the woods, where deprived of my mother, the trees decided that I would do instead. I consider myself hugely blessed that I have never become disconnected from the big Mother in the way so many of us have and that I have heard her call since that time, to take her messages to those with ears to hear. That she is alive, and that we are all her children.
As a result of that and my cancer, I don’t have a lot of conscious fear of death. Pain, yes. Loss, yes. But death itself, that sliding between the veils, into the next big adventure, or maybe, to blessed peace, no. It’s life rather than death, which presents me with my challenges. Really
choosing to be here, on the plane of so much of the suffering which accompanies the glorious beauty and engaging, fully.
And over the years, I guess as many of us do, I’ve distracted myself, with drugs and alcohol, with complaining and resentment about all the bloody work there is to do to promote healing. As if the healing process we call life needs me as a publicity agent anyway! I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding my own pain by engaging in the compulsive need to fix those around me. Aarrgghh! Though thankfully, that phase is well on it’s way out. Phew!
One of the last roots has been kicking an addiction to painkillers which I initially began using to treat savage migraine headaches. Kicking codeine has been a lengthy journey for me, but until last week I hadn’t managed to rid myself of my methadone like replacement of a lesser pain
killer. Shame, yes, I hear you knocking, but c’est la vie. All shadows must come into the light sometime.
I’d tagged that one as a process for the Phoenix next year, but having taken to my bed with migraine’s on two Movement Medicine modules since July 2009, it was obvious unwillingly to wait any longer. Asked to consider the effect of my life on other people, whilst buried underground, I was instantly transported back to the time of my birth, when interestingly enough I was also drugged and pulled out into life by forceps. Giving myself permission to simply stay with the fuzz and the disengagement of my entry into life, I felt initially as though I would never emerge from the fog. Talk about staying with your body. Around 3 or 4 hours later
I suddenly, spontaneously, felt awake. The ceremony continued, but in many ways that was the jewel for me.
The following day I was struck by a 3 day migraine. I allowed myself to stay in bed for over 24 hours, without taking any pain relief, which for me, in my ‘busy’, no time for weakness life, is nothing short of a miracle. I joined the community long dance for only a few short hours, before
the pain returned and went back to bed. And so it continued for the next couple of days. Fading in and out of great physical pain, but actually allowing myself to feel it. Ouch! And at the end I feel like I can actually hear my body, in my pain and suffering, as well as my great commitment
to doing what needs to be done for the world and her children every day. I feel like I am at the
beginning of learning how to listen in a whole new way. I have emerged from the bowels of the earth, anew. Is it worth facing death, pain, suffering? Too bloody right!
“May all beings be balanced between the dark and light. Rooted upon the Earth, we children of the Stars. From far below to the great beyond, our hearts, begin to glow!”
Ali Young is both a published poet and academic, with book chapters in collections on
embodiment published by
Routledge, as well as a
variety of academic papers.