On Sunday 16th October the seed of SOULand landed on a moist sacred ground in Dartington, Devon, England. Suicide was our main guest of honour. She demanded to be heard. I spoke for her in deep yet fumbling ways, still unfamiliar with the gravitas of her words. It was the soft launch of SOULand.
Later on that day a conversation arose among our holding team. We realised with awe that we all had a member of our family who died of suicide. Our grand fathers, father and cousin... Having myself attempted to go to the other side many times, a familiar doorway opened up, an invitation was made one with a different waxed seal. This time it was not to follow suicide to the abyss but rather to deeply listen. As we followed the trail of our conversation we started seeing a new story emerge about Suicide. A new relationship became visible, one that included the sweet and painful realisation that perhaps the 1 million people who died last year in this manner were actually all calling for a Rite of Passage - an Initiation from one state of being a human to an other more mature state. Perhaps these people's life were not to be wasted at all if we could hear their call today and act on it by offering what they longed for.
As someone who also experienced the edges of that call I know that there is confusion at that threshold between a ‘part of us’ needing dying with the ‘whole ‘ of us needing dying. Suicide has been held captive for much to long. Can we set her free so she can tell Her Story, so she can share with us the Medicine of her Longing for us Human to mature into Soulful Human Beings again. Beings that remember how to listen to rivers and crows for the answers when crisis and heartaches occur. Humans who are guided by initiated sisters or brothers that contain and accompany them through the next stages of Being fully Alive and in service to all of Life.
To really look and seat with suicide’s new story is a very hard place to get to or to welcome home. Our deep time memory seems to get activated when these longing are released and heard. That illumination brings to light and into our bones a deep grief of not being met by the Village, by initiated people and by our wild lands. We have to feel the emptiness and the no one alive enough to respond to our call. So we carry on as ghost and zombies amnesiacs, wondering in unclear mazes, confused about the meaning and purpose of what we deeply sense is a profoundly precious and sacred experience.
In these times of great crisis, repetitive descents and massif thresholds, we are instead given medications and 6 weeks of counselling. Are we just being pacified? At worst we are locked up. We are taken even further away from our rivers, our trees, our village to be between white walls in a psychiatric wards where one is offered an increasingly large palette of pills and pathologies. Is that our way to find a place to belong I wonder? Being Bipolar, Manic Depressive or have Anxiety Disorder...they all sound like names of tribes to me. I flirted with them all myself for many years, almost giving up my Soul’s calling just to belong and have a shared language. I am grateful that Soul had my back, that she kept pushing me to the rivers, the mountains and to the people who offered a soulful container, more imaginative, beautiful and infused with mystery and sensuality.
Who can bring us to the Wild lands and Waters so we could be Initiated into the next part of the Longing of who we know we could become?...our society has become a Soul’s landfill where concrete suffocates not only a potential forest but also the Soul of the humans living on top of it. We cannot hear and listen to the resonance in our longing. ... We desperately seek anyone who seem to hold a thread of that ancient knowing. Indigenous and Aboriginal wisdom is deeply longed for by many. They have of course much to offer in the way of remembering and listening. However Soul’s language belongs to place. The river Dart here where I live has a different Song than the Seine in Paris or the Kelb in Lebanon.
I am starting to feel the massif gravitas of this SOULand call to Pray and Honour our people who died of Suicide. As we approach the Day of the Dead, Samhain and All Saints... Suicide is one of the most taboo subject and experience as a human being in our 'society'. Suicide not only mirrors the state of our relationship to life and death it also calls us to look at the state of our human species experiencing the state of our world. WHat happened to our imagination? We are after all the only species that is consciously and with real commitment attempting an on mass suicide of our whole species by destroying our Home, our host and our support system, Mother Earth. No other species destroy willingly the organism that sustains them.
Even though I am looking at the dark side of Life I am far from a pessimist, on the contrary. To look at Suicide with new eyes can change the story and bring forth a new way of Making and Initiating the World of our Longing.
The story that placed itself at the fire side of my heart is that each person who have died of suicide or have attempted suicide were calling for an Initiation into a more mature phase of their Life. Initiation always hold a part of death, the death of the part of self that does not resonate with the Soul of the Earth and the seasons of a life. I cannot stop seeing that our whole Human Family is Calling for an Initiatory Rite of Passage into Adulthood and Elderhood. The resistance is immense as we walk further and further away from a relationship to Death and accept our Life to be as small, as tamed, as controlled and disempowered as the fear mongers want us to buy.
To Make and Initiate the World of our Longing we will need us to transform what stops us. It will invite the composting of all that is outgrown into a fertile Soil and Soul , to make an offering of our Initiated Self to a world in crisis. We are at the edge of the biggest call for Initiation. I call for all the initiated ones to offer and share their knowledge and wisdom to who seek it. I call for all the people who died os Suicide to be honoured for their immense teachings in the sacrifice of their life so perhaps we could save the only one we can save...
This Sunday 30th Oct there will be a Grief Composting Circle dedicated to the 1 million who died os Suicide. We will Honour their Soul in Thanks giving. We will Pray for their family and friends to release any shame, anger and fear.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1147011542057244/ to join the Facebook Event. Feel free to join us where ever you live, to share your stories and pass on the invitation.
Azul for SOULand
SOULand’s vision is to Initiate and Make the World of our Longing one Human Soul at a time.
On Sunday 16th October a seed landed on a moist fertile ground in a little Village Hall in Dartington, England.
How to bring words from such depth of experience ? Can water speak?
'Take them to me - water said, take them to me and they will heal…'
A Seed is needed with your prayers, your gold thread will be woven onto the Talking piece of your Village please come in you are so welcome in SOULand
Walk and kneel through the 5 Gates:
The first GATE of GRIEF: What we love we will loose - calls an INITIATION into the mystery of death and into the gratitude of our capacity to love within that mystery.
The second GATE of GRIEF: The Places That Have Not Known Love - calls for an INITIATION into the mystery of adulthood and into the GRATITUDE of being able to welcome back home to our Soul all that has been outcast and sent into exile.
The third GATE of GRIEF: The Sorrows of the World - calls for the INITIATION into the immutable bond with all of creation and with deep GRATITUDE that we Belong to our Living World
The fourth GATE of GRIEF: What We Expected and Did Not Receive - calls for an INITIATION into our Deep Time lineage and into the GRATITUDE of Remembering Who we are and Where we come from.
The fifth GATE of GRIEF: Ancestral Grief - calls for an INITIATION into Elderhood and into the GRATITUDE that we can Restore and Renegotiate our family tree.
SOULand presents its emerging programme to Initiate and Make the world of our Longing through a Village offering regular Rites of Passage, Rituals, Ceremonies, eARTh and Initiatory Practices for the restoring of our Earth’s Soul, one Human Soul at a time...
Thank you for being here part of your Village of SOULand
If you would like to be part of Initiating SOULand conatct Azul-Valerie Thome: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOULand has a Facebook page and is on www.azulvaleriethome.weebly.com
Dear you 6 days to go...
I would love to offer you a quote from Martin Pretchell as a starter before the main course: An invitation to see and hear the first step of SOULand on Sunday 16th October in Dartington.
“I had drunk so deeply of grief and innocently gambled so hard with fate and irony that a special kind of vision was gathering in my eyes, not entirely clear just yet. This was the same look people saw in your eyes when you have died for beauty and come to live accepting nature as life with no promise of paradise, and mad at people who couldn't see that.”
― Martin Prechtel,
A new vision has 'gathered in my eyes', one that is called SOULand. One that is woven into my Masters in Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College.
A vision now landed on my lap of a Place and a School for the Homecoming of Soul. A Place and a Programme of Collective Grief Work, of Initiatory Practices of regular Rite of Passage, the Accompaniment of our Dying world. A place where we Make together the World of our Longing through eARTh, Beauty, Sacred Arts, Dance, Ceremonies and Rituals that acknowledge the need of our Soul as Earth in our time of profound crisis and thresholds.
I will present the Vision in a space with a Black Yurt. Cloth dyed in turmeric are becoming flags of an emerging programme, 5 Gates are being build his week for the event each one held in Gratitude, Grief and Initiatory Invitation. Come!
SUNDAY 16th OCTOBER- Dartington Village Hall (Cott Road)
10:00 to 12:30: Open Space and eARTh exhibition BOOK and more info (Free): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/souland-earth-an-open-day-of…
11:00 : Presentation of SOULand by Azul-Valerie Thome
13:30 to 16:30: eARTh: Making the World of our Longing. BOOK and more info (£29) all tools and material included
'To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.'
Feel free to pass this on.
SOULand Exhibition & e.ART.h Workshops and Azul-Valerie Thome
Thanking Titiane Ha for her wonderful help and contribution this week
A large part of the emerging offering of SOULand is a Journey of Initiatory Practices weaving Grief Work, Accompaniment of what is Dying in our World and the Making of the World of our Longing. One of the thread is an enlivening collaboration with Francis Weller and the 5 Gates of Grief he has offered to our world. We are just beginning the active dreaming of creating Gates within Gates... the 5 Gates of GRIEF also opening 5 Gates of INITIATORY JOURNEYS: See below for a little bit more info. This piece of Work will be opened up a little more on the 16th Oct with SOULand Exhibition & e.ART.h Workshops and our Grief Composting Circles
The First Gate of GRIEF: Everything We Love, We Will Lose – This is life’s most difficult but essential teaching: everything is a gift but nothing lasts. To accept this fact is to live on life’s terms and not try to deny the simple truth of loss. Everything that we love, we will lose; no exceptions. Grief says that I dared to love, that someone has touched my life.
PROPOSITION: Gates of INITIATION: Initiation into the mystery of Death
1 - Thanks that I can Love
The Second Gate of GRIEF: The Places That Have Not Known Love – These are the parts of us that we have wrapped in shame and banished to the farthest shores of our lives. Because we hold them in contempt and refuse to allow them the light of day, we also deny them the healing salve of community. What we perceive as defective about ourselves, we also experience as loss. But we cannot grieve for something that we define as outside the circle of worth. We are chronically sensing the presence of sorrow but are unable to truly grieve because we feel in our body that this piece of who we are is unworthy of grief. Grieving, by its very nature, confirms worth. I am worth crying over: My losses matter.
PROPOSITION: GATE of INITIATION: Initiation into the mystery of Adulthood
2 - Thanks that I can Feel my emotions
The Third Gate of GRIEF: The Sorrows of the World – Whether we consciously recognize it or not, our psyches note the daily diminishment of species, habitats and cultures. Much of the grief we carry is not personal, but communal. It is not possible to walk down the street and not feel the collective sorrows of homelessness or the sorrows of economic insanity. It takes everything we have to deny the sorrows of the world. Walking through this door brings us into the room of the great grief of the world.
PROPOSITION:GATE of INITIATION into the immutable bond with all of creation
3 - Thanks that I Belong to our world
The Fourth Gate of GRIEF: What We Expected and Did Not Receive – This entry into sorrow calls forward the things that we may never even realize we have lost. Long centuries of intimate, communal living have programmed our indigenous souls to anticipate being welcomed in the world, to experience what our ancestors knew as their birthright – the container of the village. We are born expecting a rich and sensuous relationship with the earth and communal rituals that keep us in connection with the sacred. Their absence in our lives haunts us, even if we can’t give them a name, and we feel their loss as an ache, a vague sadness. I feel perpetually in exile because I was never welcomed into the world.
PROPOSITION: GATE of INITIATION into our deep time lineage, our DNA
4 - Thanks that I Remember who we are
The Fifth Gate of GRIEF: Ancestral Grief – This is old grief we carry in our bodies from sorrows experienced by our ancestors. It also carries the weight of our abuses of the indigenous cultures on this land. This grief is so immense it is hard to reconcile. The long shadow of this violence persists in our psyches. And – whether we know it or not – we also grieve the loss of the ancestors. We no longer look to them as a source of connection with the invisible powers in the world. This loss of our connection to the land, language, imagination, rituals, songs, and stories of our ancestors has made us all homeless. Again, I am in exile because of something I cannot even name.
PROPOSITION: GATE of INITIATION into our Elderhood
5 - Thanks that I can Restore who I come from
There is still 2 months to the time when I will present an eARTh Installation on these new 5 Gates and a paper of this work to Schumacher College as part of my Masters Thesis. I am curious to see what will present itself. Meanwhile jin us on the 16th Oct for a preview and an exhibition.
I met a man living by the river last month. His home was a blue tent by which he rolled a cigarette made of many endings. His attention to making that cigarette resembled affection. I was attracted to this little scene, intuitively longing to join in it. I sat near by watching and sensing the soul of that mysterious settler that seem to live beside what I know.
However I chose to ‘leave’ him, even though he did not know that. But I knew I had abandoned him. To look at this 'outcast' was to close to heart, way to activating for a terror of mine of ending as a bag woman.
Let’s pretend this exiled fragment was outside my self. I walked away brushing it all off I thought.
My feet became heavier and heavier. My bag filled with picnic food screamed to be shared. A thick invisible ocean made walking away almost impossible. I could have carried on back ‘home’ with great effort.
A voice started talking inside of me : ‘ You have a great opportunity here to do something for someone else, to get out of your feeling of ‘sorryness’ and alchemise a great fear. Turn back, seat on the bench near this man and see what happens. Do not turn back!’
I did turn round knowing and trusting the source of that voice. I did seat on the bench while observing that man, whose personal boundaries mixed with mine created a sort of intimacy, perhaps because he lives in public spaces. Only today i can name as such... A whole flock of emotions and doubts battered their winds around my heart. What to do now not to bring my ‘superior saviour’ and to perhaps bring shame to his plot of land. I did not want to meet him with anything but a stripped me, as he presented himself to me. I dropped within and got up to meet...
-‘Hi I am Azul, how are you?’
-‘ Real good, thank you. You?
-‘ Good talking to you and I am wondering if you are hungry and wanted to share my lunch on the bench, there?’ I mumbled.
-‘ That would be wonderful, he said’
A inner landscape was irremediably transformed by this meeting. My world, in the next hour, was to become a little bit restored. As we talked of our lives, listened with heart, laughed out loud, ate with gusto and even cried together, this kind man called Graham and I became close.
He had lived 15 years in the streets and river shores of Devon. His two grown up children did not understand. He knew love and pain, fear and courage. Someone even wrote a book about him that he did not wish to read. He wanted to keep the sense he had of himself intact, as a protective shield. He loved the opened goat cheese that he ate with a spoon. He did not wish to scare me if he had a knife he said.
-“So what is your story dear? I am glad you stopped by’: Graham said
I cried, he gave me space...
Something I think called humility dropped quite heavily on my shoulders so humanity could have a seat to. She was wrapping both of us in the realities of being humans. The realities that create links and weave us together in a sweet silky rough clothe.
I could also write a book about him after only an hour shared together. It would be about bringing back the outcasts ones in our own heart and soul...one at a time.
River of Words and Images by Azul Thomé: