On the 14th October at 15:40 my mother France died in Paris after a very long addiction related illness. She is called France like her country due to being born in 1945, a marking through the women of the end of the second World War. I wonder how this impacted her life...
...This post is not actually about my mother's life. It is about the precious gifts and deep mystery that were woven into our last few weeks together with the privilege to accompany her all the way to her death and what has happened since as we approach the 40th day and night since her death landing on the 23rd Nov... This post cab be read as a story that also refers to our dying structures and eco systems...
The first 3 Thresholds I am feeling into are our Conception, 9 months Gestation in our Mother's Womb and our Birth. I will write about my findings and reflections in an other blog post. I could not talk about death without inviting Life to have a seat.
So when my mother decided that she did not want to be kept alive by brutal means of prolonging life her mask was taken off. We were told it would take 2 or 3 days for her to go. It took 4 weeks... a brutal and cruel journey for all.
The first Death Threshold presented itself: How to accompany to her death the very same being who brought me to Life? It was a hard, pain-full and complicated relationship between my mother and I since conception. The stories were many that could take me away from this sacred invitation. The invitation to hold her hands, massage her feet and sing her soulsongs as she crossed.
I cancelled everything planned 'knowing' that I would stay to the end. The separation stories vanished into ether. All I knew is that as the eldest of her three children I had the role to accompany here to her last breath. I had no idea of what would happen, nothing in my bringing up neither my culture contained and guided me .
Intuition and instinct took a front seat. The mind calmed down. Soul and her deep waters guided my moves and choices. I let her.
But then as I kept placing the blue print of an intact culture onto the Parisien system was an immense grief to experience. The brutality that comes from the disconnection with other than humans, the land, water, beauty, songs and village ripped me apart. I was shredded into a million threads...
I started weaving mother a belt, a WomBelt and a bridge. It was I understand today a way to calm and mend. 5 belts were eventually woven with the same bols of wool... one for each member of my family.
The crows made their appearance outside the window. Good company. I went to the river, la Seine, to bring Water to her room secretly placed under her bed with little stones. I started sleeping there during the last 10 nights sensing that to be alone as we die is not humane. I did not know how to become a whole village how could I ?
My family were going through their own ways and paths that were not replacing the intact earth based culture that my bones and marrow sensuously and intensely began to remember. The weaving became coherent.
Second Threshold appeared ~ What do we do with our dead ?
Death took my mother when she was alone 40 days ago. I arrived 5 minutes later. The air was thick and expelled me from her room. It took me a short while to touch her dead body. I refused to be scared of Death. Death longs to be met and matter. I was not familiar with dead ones.
She looked very beautiful, free. I caressed her hair, felt her temperature change, put a bit of lipstick on her lips as she would have wanted.
In Paris you rent a space for burying your dead, 10, 30, 50 years depending how much money one has or not. When 10 years pass the body is moved along. Cremation being cheeper and more convenient it has become the prefered way . Even our dead do not touch soil anymore.
So mother went to a big fridge in a grotesque blue plastic shirt while we worked out what to do, how much we could spend and who we were when death turned up. Death brings up a strong mirror to what binds us and what scatters us further apart. Death also calls for remembering the deepest humane way, the original way of the longest gold thread connecting us to our 2000 generation ancestry.
There again the poverty of our culture, when it comes to rite of passage, initiations, rituals and ceremonies, hit me very hard. I hang on to the few threads gathered in the last few years of awakening my animist and studying ancient earth wisdom ways...sanity must be found somewhere. With only a few thread to create a frame we can start weaving again what resonate to our world today while being held by all that have been here before... I held the Dagara people threads, the threads of the ones who are still breathing as one with other sentient beings.
My Mother was in a fridge alone... it is a BIG business the business of death. her body does not belong to us??? We cannot take it away because we do not have a strong religious recognisable tradition. I am not able to convince or inspire my family to have a wake for her at home in her bed with her clothes...
I reached out to my chosen village. By email and phone I called for presence, for knowledge to create a frame on which to add the threads of deep memory that would otherwise fall on concrete like so much does now days.
My mother stays in her blue plastic dress alone in Paris's largest fridges... A bit of me dies with her. I am so sorry Maman. What ever you did, who ever you have betrayed and hurt in your living state no-one deserves such in-humane set up. Human's roots come from 'ground'. Humus roots come from 'Soil'. Each in-humane acts takes away a bit of our own humanity. Fierce love is required then, one woven with passion and compassion and much imagination. To then create a shrine with the prayers and praises of an intact culture's guidance matters.
Third Threshold ~ What do we do for the crossing of our dead to becoming ancestors
In many traditions there is a 40 days crossing after the death for the crossing of Soul. I had to make a choice and then bring form to that choice while listening carefully to what wanted to happen.
There again I felt alone within my immediate circles . Our amnesia being real, a night mare visited my days, what was I to do with my dead mother? What can I do to stay a human and feel humanity flowing in my veins?
It is told that our tears become the river on which the soul make her way on a boat to the other side where the Ancestors await for our return. We the living ones make our Ancestors happen. It is the tears, the grief, the stories, the shrines, the yearly celebration, the photo albums and the compassion for our humanity that weaves a passage.
Each morning I sing diving into the unknown praying grace and soul will catch me with at least one thread, the same one that connects me with 2000 generation behind her. I sang and drummed to my ancestors. Asked them to start singing and drumming day and night so my mother would hear them and feel their joy and readiness to see her again soon.
I sang and drummed for the living ones with a lit candles each night so my mother would not be lost as she did while alive. 4o days and nights from the 14th October takes me as I said Ito the 23rd November , the birth date of my son...all the gateways are opening for a deeper remembering and weaving of the world of our longing. May it be so...
This path of remembering our sacred ways is woven with total lostness, deep grief and singing gratitude. My sense is that without it our Soul and our Sanity will perish totally.
Mother thank you for letting me accompanying you to your death and beyond. Thank you for the 3 Thresholds that were revealed and remembered. It informs my work of how to accompany what is dying in our world, how to lay it down, how to show gratitude and grief and how to weave them back to ancestry.
1- How to accompany the dying?
2- What do we do with our dead?
3- What do the living need to do for our dead to bring ancestors back to work with us.
Tomorrow I will go to the sea once more to see your ancestors welcome you on the shore where you can sort our what needs resolve and help the living ones to mend and serve Life, Death, Love and Grief. I will also celebrate my son's 25th bEARTHday... <3
May it be so.
Some links you might like to read:
ACCESSING THE WISDOM OF OUR ANCESTORS: An Interview with Sobonfu Some'
Ancestralizing our Dead by Malidoma Some
WATER has an important message for humanity, according to Azul-Valerie Thome, animist and founder of SOULand: Making the World of our Longing One Maturing Soul at a Time...
Animist is the world’s oldest known belief system, predating even paganism. It is the belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Azul told Reconnect that water has been speaking to her for the last two years. She said:
“It is time for me to take a leap of faith and share one of water’s messages with you. Because nothing else matters more to me right now than giving voice to something other than humans. This is an excerpt of the message…
“All of us; soil, water, plants, air, animals and all ancestors are calling you humans, to us... so we can save your species. We know and have known for a while that you do not have much time left if you do not wake up to your birthright belonging to earth and come home soon, real, real soon. We keep dying, we keep giving away our lives to shake you up from a deep and very long amnesia. Once you can allow the truth and quality of such love to permeate through your traumatised being and desolate soul you will wake up from a life time of anaesthesia to your immense grief and capacity for love.”
The full message is available at: http://www.souland.org/conversations-with-grief-and-water.html
with responses from Jon Young, Francis Weller, Pat Mc Cabe, Manda Scott and others
Azul admits to being “shattered” by the messages, filled with “spiralling loneliness” and of fearing the reaction of others. Despite this, she feels compelled to speak out, saying: “There is something emerging in our dying world that deserves to be courted and longed for...new words...new context and tribes are forming... can you hear them? I know that I am not alone listening to our new world with a living imagination and longing soul.”
Azul is inviting people who share her beliefs and sensitivities to stay in touch and share their stories. She is also offering to act an animist mentor. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)7765257517. www.souland.org
Article written by Kate Philbin at Reconnect. Thank you! Azul
What would your life’s narrative become if you were told that our entire species had 4 years and 3 months left and that the carrier of this message was Water? No one likes to talk about death, life, grief and love very much. Let alone enter a conversation with Water without sensing madness whirling and winking at soul near by...
You might engage with the possible myth that the backbone or our existence on Earth is being shattered. We are well aware of our systems collapsing, to be transmuted perhaps into unknown and dreaded ‘becomings’. That might have something to do with more of us ‘hearing’ and entering conversations with other than humans offering all a new sensitivity of beingness.
Water has been speaking to me for the last 2 years. Time for me to take a leap of faith and share one of her messages with you. Because nothing else matters more to me right now than giving voice to other than humans:
(...All of us; Soil, Water, Plants, Air, Animals and all Ancestors are Calling you Humans, to Us... so we can Save your species. We know and have known for a while that you do not have much time left if you do not wake up to your birthright Belonging to Earth and come Home soon, real real soon. We keep dying, we keep Giving Away our Lives to shake you up from a deep and very long amnesia. Once you can allow the truth and quality of such Love to permeate through your traumatised being and desolate soul you will wake up from a life time of anesthesia to your immense grief and capacity for Love....) Full message here
with responses from Jon Young, Francis Weller, Pat Mc Cabe, Manda Scott and others : http://www.souland.org/conversations-with-grief-and-water.html
When Water entrusted me with the above I felt shattered by a depth of intimacy with life fully intertwined with a spiralling loneliness rarely experienced before. The terror of possible deadly marginalisation twinned with the bone memory of our European women genocide still running its trauma in our veins. I feared being pathologised as i had been before when younger i heard other beings or labelled as a witch or a shaman?! .... neither I desire to wear as a cloak.
There is something emerging in our dying world that deserves to be courted and longed for...new words...new context and tribes are forming... can you hear them?
To be ‘hearing’ other sensuous beings has nowhere to land and root in the new ‘yet to be formed’ indigene. Not yet...I know that I am not alone listening to our new world with a living imagination and soul.
Stay in touch, share your stories or need an animist mentor contact me Azul-Valerie Thome: email@example.com. +44 (0)7765257517. www.souland.org
SOULand: Making the World of our Longing One Maturing Soul at a Time...
'Telling the Bees' about the Life Cairn Totnes and Remembrance Day for Extinct Species 30th Nov 2017 ...
''Telling the Bees' The telling of the bees is a traditional European custom in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper's lives, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns in the household. If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not "put into mourning" then it was believed a penalty would be paid, such as the bees might leave their hive, stop producing honey, or die. The custom has been most widely noted in England but also recorded in Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and the United States.'
Could there be something of great importance and value in this Tell? The Bees are disappearing, our grieving skills are almost nonexistant in our 'patronised and inflamed world'. The Web and Hive of our rightful relationship between species have withered away, the communication is in a dis-animated and relentless storms. The Bees are not told much anymore and they are disappearing as we keep forgetting who to talk to about our Grief ….so they don't come back...
Let's Tell the few Bees left of our sorrow and grief, of our gratitude and longings, loves and news again....<3
I have been offering Bee Pollen in all rituals and ceremonies lately calling us to become Hives ... Bees have not given up on us... I have not given up on your Great Teachings and Astonishing Gifts of Love, Wisdom and Spiritual awakening, I bow to you Sun beings...
Please join us on 30th November 2017 if you are touched by the 6th massive extinction of Life on Earth and want to Give Away your gifts, broken hearts and talents to creating our first Life Cairn in Totnes.
Artists, singers, musicians, children, elders, mothers, fathers, lovers of all sorts and all two, three and four legged welcome !
30th November 2017
We need to find a piece of land preferably by the River Dart accessible by All ...All the time... to place and care for our Life Cairn ♥
Memorials for species rendered extinct at human hands: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life_Cairn
'Grief is not a form of negotiation with Death, it is a courageous, generous and beautiful Love letter to Life'.
In grief and deep gratitude
OUR FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/1773741646245298/?ti=icl
OUR SOULand PAGE: http://www.souland.org/life-cairn-in-totnes.html
Other Links :
Azul Thome is the active visionary of SOULand: ´Making the World of our Longing one Maturing Soul at a Time ´
eARTh and the Grief Composting Circles
WomBelt: Weaving Women back into Matter
AS the seat of life, a woman’s womb is both a sacred and uniquely precious place. Azul Thome , as part of her SOULand enterprise, is inviting women to bless, heal, celebrate and protect their wombs, the wombs of other women and of Mother Earth herself in a special ceremonial weekend.
WomBelt – Weaving Women back into Matter is a two-day ritual that invites women to weave a belt, using the backstrap weaving method and incorporating the prayers and blessings of each woman present on the day. Azul said:
“Weaving a WomBelt is a rite of passage, a way back to mattering. It is a way to honour our womb and to weave women and our stories back together. We will be creating beauty, praying for one another, listening, remembering and mending. As women, we matter, we are matter, we are mater, mother, Earth.”
WomBelts are a ritual way to mark, celebrate and heal. They can be helpful at transitional times in a woman’s life – conception, birth, the start of menstruation, menopause. They are also used for healing, releasing and grief – for example, after rape/abuse, abortion, miscarriage or divorce.
“We begin the ritual by leaning into a tree like the spokes of a wheel or a web. Then we begin weaving using the ancient backstrap method. At a certain point, everyone is invited to rotate moon wise one belt to their right. We then continue weaving the next woman’s WomBelt, adding our own prayers, stories, songs and love as we go. At the end of the ceremony we complete our own WomBelt
before grounding it into the earth with our prayers.”
“The process of creating a WomBelt in the company of other women is extraordinarily healing and grounding. We are expressing that we matter, every one of us. The ceremony of weaving something from nothing is about, healing, mending what is broken, marking transition… We are honouring the many different stages of a woman’s being and celebrating the birthplace of life.”
Azul is working on weaving this vision within other women empowerment projects like TreeSisters and 1 Billion Rising .
The next WomBelt weekend ceremony is on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 September in Totnes, England
(£120 for the non residential weekend)
Azul also makes WomBelts to order between £190 to £300
.For more information call: 07765 257517 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re-Connect Magazine, July 2017
Our Pilot event/Launch just happened
River of Words and Images: A place to lay what moves, touches and inspires.