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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in death

 

O, yes, it is nearly Samhain. Oya is crashing north- and westward, Her winds clearing the path, driving the waters ahead of Her. And I am composing an invocation of the Morrighan and have purchased a perfect, fat pomegranate. It is so tempting to tear it open and taste the sweet wild seed-fruits, to quench my thirst as Persephone did and doom myself to a dual-life. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
"Death came suddenly and it was mercilessly painful. You are aware you have passed: you can hear the keening of the women in your family, taste the metal of the oboloi in your mouth. You are no longer cold, or hot, and there is no pain. Sensation is for the living, and your memories start to fade already. You are no longer part of the living. You are dead, and your guide is waiting for you. 
 
Hermes Psychopompos, the winged guide of the newly dead, descends and takes your hand. Below you is the ocean: Oceanos' divine body. You used to watch it glisten in Helios' bright rays, but today, everything is dull and lifeless. You are speeding west, guided by the blessed Immortal. Below you, you can see land again and a mighty river. The land draws you down, and you stand on the ground without feeling it. It is here that Hermes Psychopompos leaves you, in the capable hands of Kharon, on the bank of the river Acheron. 
 
The ferryman looks old and ageless at the same time. He holds out his hand, but you can't understand what he wants from you. Then, his hand closes around a coin, and he steps aside to let you into his boat. Without moving, you are suddenly on the boat, looking to the shore where shadowy figures of the dead gather, longing to make the journey with you. But they have no coin to hand over, and are forced to wander the bank of the Kokytos river year after year, until the ferryman takes pity on them. Today is not their day.
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Two fascinating insights deepen our understanding of death and Samhain, which honors its sacred dimension.  In one of his essays on nature poet Gary Snyder made a point I have never forgotten. 

An ecosystem is a kind of mandala in which there are multiple relations that are all-powerful and instructive.  Each figure in the mandala – a little mouse or bird (or little god or demon figure) – has an important position and a role to play.  Though ecosystems can be described as hierarchical in terms of energy flow, from the standpoint of the whole all of its members are equal.

   . . . We are all guests at the feast, and we are also the meal!  All of biological nature can be seen as an enormous puja, a ceremony of offering and sharing.

As I was finishing a chapter in my forthcoming book, Faultlines, I encountered a compatible observation by Carl von Essen regarding what he called the “hunter’s trance.”  Von Essen wrote 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I thought I’d share this poem I wrote a couple of years ago. It was inspired by Pinkola Estes’ telling of the La Loba story–the woman who sings over the bones.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Warrior's Grief

I ease my students into Beowulf by having them read the Anglo-Saxon poem 'The Wanderer' first. It's a great introduction to the warrior ethos that the longer narrative celebrates, but in a short form. It's a poem about grief but the first thing we'll notice is that the loss mourned isn't a partner, child or parent, but the narrator's leader.

Wyrd bið ful aræd!       Fate always goes as it must!

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    We don't hear enough about the sanctity and beauty of the warrior ethic from these traditions. You know how much I love "Beowulf"
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, my dear. This piece actually motivated me to kick off a series on Hávamál, so I hope you'll find that appealing as well
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Really great information here. Lots to take in and consider.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, Hunter.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The season of death

Ear (Ground) is loathsome to all men,
yet certainly the body will be set upon there,
the corpse grows cold, the soil accepts its pale bedfellow;
leaves fall, pleasures depart, men cease to be. 

 - Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    Er, and in my comment above, I meant to type "he."
  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    Theresa and Rose, thank you both so much for your condolences! And Rose, thank you for sharing the pics of Sunshine; what a pret
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    Here's a link to my FB album for Sunshine. In case you want to see him. I've even got bitty kitten pics! https://www.facebook.co
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    I had a cat, Sunshine, whom I had to put to sleep because of aggression. He behaved like a crazy kitty in pain. But no docs could
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    My sympathies for your loss of (physical) Pringle. It's good to know that she still makes her presence felt. She sounds like a lov

Early Fall is upon us, and the year’s Wheel turns from harvest into the darkening time leading to Samhain. This reminds us that one great distinction between modern NeoPaganism and most contemporary religions is our different relationship to death. For the monotheistic traditions death entered into the world as a consequence of sin. As I understand Buddhism, death is one of many forms taken by suffering, and suffering is evidence something is amiss with embodied existence. The secular modern ‘religion’ of scientism hopes someday to enable us to achieve immortality, perhaps as consciousness encased within a computer.

Today many of the deceased are painted to look as if they are still alive, ‘sleeping,’ and their bodies buried in ornate caskets with comfy cushions to protect them for as long as possible from finding physical oneness with the earth. We mourn the loss of loved ones but we mourn from within a different context than do those who see death as a misfortune.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Natalie Reed
    Natalie Reed says #
    Gus - couldn't agree more. Humans were built to eat meat, too much evidence to go into here, but in a nutshell, we wouldn't be hum
  • Amy Wolf
    Amy Wolf says #
    Hi Alan: Thanks. Congenital honesty, a flaw esp in wicca and online. Usually when there's an option of "username", that's what get
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    The arguments you brought up about farming are also maintained by Jainists, who do not plow for exactly that reason. Good articl
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Theresa- That is why I used "scientism" - the faith/ideology that all knowledge comes from science and can be demonstrated or disc
  • Amy Wolf
    Amy Wolf says #
    Nice of Witches and Pagans to use my real name after asking for a username...ok... Here's my comment: I wish those of us concerned

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