Stories of Spirit…Welcoming Death [the art of the Doula]

Last night at the end of my Sound Meditation class, it came to my awareness that a fellow Reiki Master, friend, and gentle healer had entered into Hospice.  She had fought the good fight with Cancer only to watch it return, this time with death as it’s companion.  The thought crossed my mind of heading straight to her house and catching a ride home later with a friend, but it had been a long day and I opted for riding home with my husband and making a quick dinner.

Waiting on dinner, I checked my Facebook messages and read “You should come sooner than later.  She seems to be holding on,  enjoying time spent with her boys, but her time is close.”

I put down my phone, packed my basket with oils, sage, my drum as well as snacks, water, and coffee.  When death calls, I never know if I will be going for a short visit or a long.  I ate quickly and got in my car, immediately tapping into my dying friend.  Before I was even out of my driveway, I was singing Spirit Song [song of the soul] and could feel the miles between us dissipate.  I was in duel reality…existing both in ordinary reality-driving my car, watching the road & the otherworlda psychic/shamanic state of existence.  In the otherworld, I was sharing space with my friend; as close as if I were sitting by her bedside.  In this state, I could see her life force and recognized that my decision to see her that evening was a good one.  I felt it as an honor and a duty, that death itself was asking me to come recognize such a beautiful soul as she transformed from body to spirit.  Her work as a healer needed to be acknowledged.

When I got to her house, I was touched by the way her family was already showing reverence.  The love in the house was palpable, and there was a somber reverence that spoke of how much they wanted to honor her in her passing.  We spoke for a few moments about creating sacred space when a loved one is passing, and soon they were walking around the house collecting photographs and special items to place on the altar in their mother/friends room.

Creating an Altar for the dying is a beautiful and thoughtful way of calling in the Ancestors to help with the transition between life and death.  I have given directions for creating an Ancestor Altar at the bottom of the article.

As her family gathered pictures and memories, I began to do Reiki on my friend and to sing gently to her.  My song was a continuation of the song I had already been singing to her during the 20-minute ride from my house to hers.  When singing the song of dying, the words are not important, in fact, I seldom sing with words at all.  The song of dying is sung with emotion and reverence for the person awaiting transition and for death itself.  As a Medium, Death is a friend of mine.  I spend much of my life between the veil, communicating with those who have transcended into death.  I have a great respect for death, and can honestly say that I love it.

By loving death, I do not mean that I love pain and suffering.  I mean that I love the act of transition.  Like birth, death is magical, it is more ‘real’ then any other experience we will have in our lives.  When we sit with death we cannot be anything but what we truly are.  We are vulnerable.

Singing to my friend, I began to loosen the strands of life that were sticky; the places she held tight to her body.  I sang and I soothed.  I could feel her life force & was aware that her death would be soon and did not believe she would live another day.  My song was joined by the soft murmurs of the others in the room.  Her children and friends joining in ‘spirit song’, guiding her soul across the veil.  As I held my tones out long, I felt her sliding on the vibration and her breath becoming slower and slower.

Then it was done, my time with her had come to pass.  She would not pass for hours still, but I felt that it was time for me to leave.  I knew she would be gone before long, but that her last hours were for deep quiet and her family alone.

I left her home at the same time as another friend, and we stopped to talk outside the house.  I spoke of how my need to visit; which had been so urgent, felt like administering last rights…kind of like “Hey there, all is well across the veil, safe travels to the Otherworld”.  In such moments, I connect deeply with my ancient self, my priestess self, the tribal shaman, volva-self.  I see this as the holiest of the work I do, for it is never something to plan on, but something that I must do when I feel it’s vibration.  When death asks me to pay a house call, I do so with great reverence for both the dying and the spirit of death alike.

We are changing the way we interact with death, we are remembering the old ways of honoring and reverence.  Families are interacting deeply with the presence of death through hospice, as well as with the art of home funerals and celebrations of life.  We are remembering the sacred and death is becoming a deeper act of healing.  Years of disassociation with death; death behind white curtains, and sterile environments, and funerals without connection to our ancestors put a serious hick-up in our ability to heal and understand death.  That is changing.  Death is an exceptional moment of Spirit.

My friend passed late this morning, and I am happy to know that her spirit is free and she is no longer burdened with a painful body.  I take heart in knowing that one of her dear friends washed and anointed her body with lavender, showing love and kindness in the ceremonial act of preparing her body for death.

Creating an Ancestor Altar for the Dying-

*You will need- a shelf (dresser, portable tray in the hospital, bookshelf, window sill), family photos of living & dead relatives, special treasures (wedding rings, holy items, crystals, etc).

Set the altar up where the dying and the people holding space can see it.  Even if your loved one is unconscious, set the altar up within their personal space.  Invite your ancestors to join you in the room, and to come aid in the passing of your loved one.

My hope is that ‘ancestor honoring’ become a regular part of death and dying.  We need to remember that we are connected on both sides of the veil.  Our Beloved Dead are waiting for us when we cross, and like our living loved ones sit by our side when we are dying, our loved ones in spirit do the same.  One saying goodbye, the other welcoming home.

I hope you enjoyed the read folks…peaceful travels to the spirit world for those who are crossing.

spreading love-salicrow

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Stories of Spirit…The Sacrifice of War (remembering my father)

Today is Veterans Day and I am thinking of my father.  His whole life or at least the life that I was witness to was enveloped around his service in Vietnam.  His thoughts, actions, and values were reflective of this pivotal time in his life, and his physical limitations were created by it.  He carried a pride that had been drilled into him by boot camp sergeants and fellow soldiers, in the essence of his being he was a Marine.

 

Growing up the child of a wounded warrior, I knew the toll of war.  My father was missing an eye, a fancy piece of glass made to resemble an eye sat where it belonged.  As a child of four, I once accidentally witnessed my father cleaning his eye.  Walking into the living room to find him with his eye in his hand and the socket drooping on his face I was horrified.  I screamed and had to be comforted by my mother.  For days I was afraid of my father, not understanding what I had witnessed.   I have found myself revisiting this moment time and time again in my memory and can’t help but think how terrible it must have been for him, knowing that his appearance had scared his own child so.

Many of my father’s wounds were visible, the glass eye being the most noticeable.  He had physical markings to show that he had been damaged beyond repair, that war had taken a great toll on him.  But he also carried many deeper wounds that were not visible to the eye, wounds that affected how he saw himself and the world around him.  These hidden wounds were far more painful than the loss of an eye, for he was haunted by his actions and the things he saw during his time of war.

Mike Emory (my father’s mentor), Grammy Brown, My father Richard, his younger brothers Teddy & Eddy.

My father grew up very poor, raised by his grandmother in the deep North Woods of New Hampshire.  He lied about his age and joined the Marine Corp at 17 so that he could send money back home to take care of her and his younger brothers.  Having grown up wandering around the woods, his skills made him a natural for reconnaissance work.  This was what eventually took his life at 62.  He did not die from the grenade that had taken his eye and left him with shrapnel in his brain, in the end, it was the exposure to high levels of chemicals (agent orange) that destroyed his body.

He was thankful for the years he had between the grenade and his death, seeing them as borrowed years.  Years that allowed him to get married, have 3 children, and many adventures.  But those years between were not all good.  Along with the physical ailments the grenade had bestowed upon him, he also lived with nightmarish memories.  In trying to escape the thoughts that plagued him, he turned to alcohol and other substances for comfort.

redemption…re-connection after 13 years of not speaking.

My father’s story, in the end, was one of redemption.  He eventually found a path healing, after many losses and many bottles.  He lost his family to his own alcoholism and then found it again through sobriety.  He found a deep spiritual center inside of himself and embraced the gifts that were his birthright, seeing himself for what he had been all along, an intuitive medicine man.

Medicine Man

My Dad’s final goodbye

My experience growing up the child of a wounded veteran shaped me as it did my father.  Living with him, his addictions, and his pain, I gained a deep understanding of the hidden anquish anyone who has seen war experiences.  This exposure has led me to work with many veterans.  I have a great respect for the price they pay, and an understanding of the wounding they carry.  I do not think there are words deep enough to express how much respect I have for those who have served.  Whether I believe in the war they fight or not, I respect the soldier.  I know that there are many reasons why they enlist, choosing to fight for their country.  For some, it is a deep feeling of patriotism (something my father also had), but for many their choosing is much more practical.  They see military service as a way out of poverty, a way to provide a better life for themselves and the ones they love.  They take the gamble, rolling on their lives and mental stability, with hopes that they will be among the lucky.

I would like to take a moment to pause and send love and healing to all of our men and women who have experienced the service of war, and I ask you to join me.  Here is what you will need…

*a candle, *a flag or item that makes represents military service to you, * photos of your own loved ones who have served

Set up a small altar with the items of memorabilia & photos & light your candle.

Focus on your Heart Chakra, directly in the center of your chest.  Take deep even breathes through your nose.  With every inhalation imagine you are filling your chest cavity with love, with every exhalation imagine sending that love to everyone who has served in the military, starting with those close to you and expanding outward.

Do this for about 5 minutes then speak clearly out loud “Thank you for your sacrifice”, and blow out the candle.

Remember not all wounds are visible, not everyone is walking around with a glass eye or a prosthetic leg.  Most of the wounds of war are buried deep within.  Support your local VFW, and Veterans home.  Buy the red poppy from the guy sitting at the grocery store today.  Hell, donate more than is convenient, after all, we can not come close to matching the donation they made.  Remember to thank them, truly and deeply for they deserve our thanks.

I would personally like to thank the men and women who have served this countries military.  I have deep respect for the sacrifices you have made and understand the price it continues to ask of you.

spreading love-salicrow

Stories of Spirit…Ancestor Honoring [staying connected to our beloved dead]

Death is one of my favorite subjects.  As a Medium I spend many hours a week talking to dead people, and much more speaking to people about the importance of mourning and honoring our dead.

Grammy Brown & my Dad ‘Richard’, two of my Beloved Dead.

Our relationship with death has in many ways been glossed over by modern media.  I believe this started in the 50’s with television and the homogenization of America.  We went from a nation that experienced death in the manner of our ancestors, deeply flavored by the many ethnicities that make up our nation, to a whitewashed ‘Leave it to Beaver’ style mourning.  Death became an organized wake or viewing hours, a funeral, and two weeks of casseroles donated by your friends and neighbors.

We let go of all of our outward signs of mourning.  Gone were the armbands, and ceremonial black dress; which now is just the standard daily uniform for a majority of folks living east of the Mississippi, leaving us with no visual signs that a person was still deeply involved in grieving their passed loved one.  Instead, like all good viewing audiences, we are supposed to follow the lead of our television leaders, and put on some lipstick, tidy our hair, and show people we were not fazed by death.  The only problem is, we are often not OK, and the lipstick doesn’t really do shit for the feelings we hold in our heart.

Death brings with it a deep melancholy, an overwhelming desire to hold/see a person one more time.  It makes us look at our regrets, and the precious moments we wish could be repeated.  Death is powerful, and we need to find a way of making the process of death and mourning sacred again.  We need to forget the television version and reach instead for the old ways, that does not hide death, but instead, show us that it is normal and that feeling ‘OK’ after the death of a loved one takes time.  We need to reclaim our relationship with our ancestors so that death no longer feels like isolation.  We need to educate ourselves about death, take it out of the closet and get to know it a little better.

Locally and nationally there is an organization known as ‘the Death Cafe’ http://deathcafe.com The Death Cafe is not a storefront, instead, it is a group gathering that sets up shop in coffee shops, libraries, and local gathering holes.  The group is open to anyone wanting to talk about death…people who are dying, people who have recently lost someone, and people just fascinated with death are all welcome.  In Vermont, we have groups in Burlington, Montpelier, Johnson, Manchester, and more…

In my work as a Medium, I often talk about the importance of keeping our dead alive in our thoughts and deeds.  This does not mean we pretend they are still alive, it means we interact with them as if they are still vital members of our family.  In my family, we speak of our dead so often, that my children could tell you stories about ancestors who died way before they were born.  They not only know the larger than life stories, but some of the simpler things, like the fact that Grammy Brown loved to smoke cigarettes, and that her father had a still on the property where he brewed moonshine back in the early 1900’s.

When the holidays come around our Beloved Dead are not forgotten.  Often a plate is put out for our ancestors, that is filled throughout the day with their favorite treats.  This tradition started with our Celtic ancestors who left our a feast for the dead on holy days, such as Halloween/Samhain.  A traditional Dumb Supper is done on or near Halloween night, some sources say as close to midnight as possible.  A table is elaborately set, as you are having a feast.  Food should be thought out, including favorites of your ancestors and loved ones.  The table is set for all living guest as well as all that are in spirit.  At the dinner, everyone remains silent, in observation of those who cannot communicate with us any longer.

Over time traditions change, as the pattern is woven with personal beliefs and additional ethnic spices.  My family, for example, is Irish Gypsy & Native American, creating a hodge-podge of hillbilly magic that is all our own…, We do not reserve the feasting of our ancestors to Halloween night alone.  They get plates at Thanksgiving, Yule and other family festivities.  We do not sit in silence, for that is something that does not exist in a loud Irish family.  Instead, we simply place a plate for our ancestors and fill it throughout the gathering.

Here is a simple way to honor your Beloved Dead; family, friends, loved ones and ancestors, this Halloween and in the upcoming season of holidays.

family altar

*Set up a small altar in a corner of the kitchen, dining room, or living room.  Place pictures of your loved ones who have crossed into Spirit on the altar, as well as small items of memorabilia that remind you of those you have lost.

*Place a plate on the altar, choose something special, perhaps something from your grandmother’s china, or a piece your sister made in pottery class.  You are giving your Beloved Dead a place of honor.

*Pick one item of food to place on the plate that you know will be appreciated by your loved one in Spirit.  Then tell others that they are welcome to leave a treat as well.

As the day goes on, the plate fills up with all sorts of goodness.  Drinks can be left beside the plate, as can smokes, after all, I know my Dad would appreciate a beer and a smoke.  Sometimes we eat whats on the plate.  Some people would frown on this saying that whatever you leave for the dead belongs to them.  But I am from poor stock, and my ancestors know that food should be eaten and appreciated by the living.  If you decide to munch from the plate of the dead, make sure to share a story as you do.  If you’re eating one of Gramma’s cherry chocolates, you damn well better be telling a story about her love of them.  If you smoking your dad’s cigarette, make sure to savor it and imagine all the times you saw him sitting on the porch having a smoke.

More then anything our Beloved Dead want to be remembered, talked about and part of our lives.  The more often we speak of them, and remember them through simple ceremonies, such as a plate at Thanksgiving, the easier it is for us to heal and feel their presence around us.  Remember our Spirits want to make contact with us, they want to reassure us that they are OK and that there is something after death.

I hope you have a fantastic Halloween season.  I will be celebrating quietly this year, with deep personal journey work and ventures into Spirit for myself.  As a Medium, it is easy to tell myself that I spend a lot of time in the Spirit world, but the truth of the matter is I am working.  I am helping others to connect to their Beloved Dead, it is not the same as honoring and connecting to my own Beloved Dead.  I hope you enjoyed the read folks, and that you find your way to connecting to those who have been lost to you through the veil of death.

spreading love-Salicrow

Stories of Spirit…Tea with Grandma (honoring the Dead)

Awhile back, I met with a family who’s matriarch was a fun, sassy, and organized gal, who also happened to be dead.  She did not let this stop her from being in charge, and took it upon herself to introduce most of the other Spirits who had come to the gathering.  Her living family was not at all surprised by this behavior, as she had been known as ‘Little Mother’ since she was a child.

The living family members who had brought me to the house, were laughing and enjoying themselves as stories were shared by their relatives in Spirit.  At one point, one of the guest became concerned that their laughter may be seen as disrespectful to their Beloved Dead and asked if this was so.  My answer was a resounding “No, not at all”.

When Spirits come to communicate with their living; through the aid of a Medium, they know that their time is limited, and they want to make the most of it.  Although it is natural to cry at such events, the Dead do not want us to remember them through tears alone.  Laughter is the heart-balm of life, and it is a great way of showing honor to those we love, who have crossed into Spirit.  When we open ourselves to the experience of Spirit Communication, we often find that it is in essence a visit with those we hold dear, and like all reunions it is filled with powerful emotions of all kinds.

Many years ago, my sister Sandy did a Psychic Reading for me; long before I started doing Mediumship professionally.  I was young and looking for direction with the various businesses I had at the time (clothing company, store, & bar).  My sister looked puzzled at first, then told me that I she didn’t see me doing any of it in 10 years, and that what she did see was unusual.  She said she saw me sitting around a kitchen table talking to the Dead, like some kind of tea party or something.

I was already working as a Psychic doing Readings for people out of my store, but at that point I was not interested in talking to the Dead for other people.  I saw it as something that I experienced for myself, something far too emotional for me to want to do it, for the public.  I saw Dead people, and chose to speak to them on occasion, but it was not yet part of my everyday life, and I was certainly not yet ready to share it with the world.

This memory came back to me, as I sat around the kitchen table, with the family of the Spirit who was nicknamed “Little Mother”, I thought of my sisters Reading.  I saw the living and the dead gathered around the table with me, and I realized that her prediction had come true, and that this was how it should be.  A gathering of people who love one another, laughing and crying, drinking tea and shooting the shit.  So what if some of the people were dead.  They were all there, fully present, enjoying each others company.  I felt a deep sense of purpose and gratitude for my life, knowing that this was what healing looked like.

When we loose someone we love dearly to death, the scarring is often overwhelming.  We can find ourselves trapped in the most painful of memories, and often unable to remember the laughter, joy, and silliness that made up the persons life.  We forget what is like to sit with them around the family table, how bossy they could be, or the weird behaviors that make them who they are.

Our Beloved Dead (family, friends, ancestors, and guides) want us to remember them for who they were, they want to be connected to us through laughter, and story telling, through songs they sang, slang they used, and recipes they made.  They miss being with us in the flesh, they miss family BBQ’s and goofy antics, they miss their favorite foods, and the smell of campfires, they miss the way they were when they were alive.  Those are the things they want us to remember them by.  They do not want to be remembered by their death alone.  They do not want to their story to be solely of cancer, car accident, old age, dementia, or heart attack.  Death is the ending of the story, it is not the story itself.

When we seek to connect with our Beloved Dead, when we find ourselves missing them, it is important to remember who they were in life.  To remember their story, who they were when they were truly living.  In this remembrance we give them honor.  We give life to their story, and we all begin to heal.

Here are a few simple ways to give honor to your Beloved Dead…

*tell stories of their life  *cook or eat their favorite foods, while thinking of them  *set up a family altar at important family gatherings, add pictures, and mementos that make you think of them  *sing their favorite songs  *visit their favorite places & spend time thinking of them  *talk to them out-loud (Spirits can see & hear us much better than we can them) 

Think of how you would like to be remembered, when you die.  Do you want your family and friends to remember you with tears alone?  Or do you want to be remembered for your life, for the things that truly make you-you?

When the only emotions we choose to embrace death with is sorrow, we loose so much of that which made the person we mourn special.  We need to open our hearts and truly remember them.

Me…I expect to be remembered by funky socks, coffee, and my adventurous spirit.  I would feel sad to think that my passing brought only tears.

I hope you enjoyed the read folks.  Now think of how you can honor and remember those you love who have passed.  How can you heal your heart, and connect more deeply with your Beloved Dead?

spreading love-salicrow

 

SACRED TRAVEL…Guided by Spirit [California Dreaming part 1. LA-Mount Shasta]

Sacred travel is not a predictable thing.  It by nature is fluid and spontaneous, led by the intuition and an openness to explore.  Unlike vacation, it does not come with perfect accommodations, gourmet meals and neatly arranged outings.  It is a thing of wonder!

A few months back, when winter was still fully in possession of the north, my sister Sandy and I began planning our spring travel.  Our plan was to teach Earth Magic in Milwaukee in the beginning of the month, and then spend the end of the month teaching about parallel lives/past lives in LA & Carlsbad.  As the plan emerged from the ether of our minds, we other magical bits starting presenting themselves, and our simple business/teaching trip soon turned into a grand adventure that would involve 2 weeks in California.  The first working, the second doing deep Earth Magic in Joshua Tree, deep in the Mojave desert.  The second part of the trip was in fact the real work, and involved 13 friends and spiritual allies heading into the desert to do sound healing.

A few weeks before we were to head to California, the ‘work’ part of our trip began to fall away.  First the folks in LA seemed unable to host an event.  This at first bothered me, as they were the reason we were heading in that direction.  They had asked us to come, and only after tickets were bought and plans were made, realized that they could not make it happen.

Now in moments like this, it is easy to get discouraged, to be pissed and start doing a hissy-fit dance.  But it was clear by this point, that we needed to be there.  There was never any thought of not going, or of changing how long we would be there, simply an understanding that we had work to do on the west coast.  This same feeling came to the surface, when our second host, the one in Carlsbad told us days before we were flying out, that they had not been able to follow through on their end.

When we boarded the plane, we were still up in the air on where we were going when we got to California.  We decided, that we would decide while in the air where it was we were suppose to go.  We had place mat markers of where we needed to be, but none of those were relevant until  early next week.  Our first 4 days of the trip were open, and itching for Spiritual guidance.

By the time we landed in LA, we knew that we would not be heading south to Carlsbad, instead we would be taking an 10 hour drive north, to Mount Shasta.  This was not a random; close your eyes and point at any place on the map, kind of decision, but instead it was a knowing that we all experienced.  One that came in boldly.  For me, it was a feeling of calling that I experienced any time I looked at the in-flight map.  I would see the dot in the northern part of California, and the name Shasta, and I would feel drawn to it.

Mount Shasta is a holy mountain, one that holds the making of pilgrimage.  Known for it’s powerful vortex energy, it is a place of high earth energy, a place where one can go to heal themselves and to do direct healing toward the Earth.  (I will write more about Shasta in the next few days, after I have spent some time exploring here).

Getting to Shasta was an adventure of it’s own, as we; my traveling companions (my sister Sandy and our friend Missy), and I, are very open to intuitive travel, and following the path that Spirit presents us with.  This kind of travel is best done with a destination in mind, but a very loose idea on how long it will take you to get there, and a sense of wonderment.  Intuitive travel means there are no wrong turns, and every place you land is an opportunity to connect with Spirit.

Leaving LA was like escaping prison.  First of all, I must be completely honest…this city did nothing for me.  I felt an instant desire to leave it, yet the city itself is a powerful vortex of energy, that really doesn’t want you to leave.

Our first experience with wacky travel and leaving LA was connected to our GPS.  No matter what we typed into it, it wanted to take us back to the car rental shop.  So we tried using the GPS’s on our phones, and this happened again, and again.  We finally got ourselves out of the city, and the GPS’s to behave at least a little bit, and started heading up the coastal highway, believing that we would travel most of the way with the beautiful Pacific Ocean as our traveling guide.  That too proved incorrect.

 

After driving for hours, mostly along the coast, Missy who was driving suddenly said “I am not sure how this happened, but I do not believe we are on Route 1 anymore.” This did not alarm us, but instead made us ask “Well, where do you suppose we are, and where are we headed?”

Again our GPS’s were of no help.  In fact, they obviously had no idea where we were.  While accessing our GPS’s (more then one), we would often find that it believed us to be in other places on the continent…including Nebraska, Maryland, and the south western tip of Mexico.  We did not seem to be track-able.

When we finally got one of the GPS’s to acknowledge our actual location, we found we had gone inland.  We plotted a new course and continued forward, not wanting to turn around and come back the way we came.  This was not a disappointment.

Shortly after going through a bum-fuck town in California we found ourselves entering a canyon.  It was breath taking.  The road wove like a snake down and around the mountains, into the valley deep below.  It was a God moment, and exceptional moment of Spirit, when the universe took our breath away.

Sandy communing with the sun, above the Canyon.

Wild shrub Sage

We drove for hours after the canyon, so thankful for the beauty we had experienced.  We relished in the memory of the sound we had created when toning on the top of the canyon, as people drove by waving @ the crazy women singing and laughing, as they stood on the edge of the canyon on a tiny pull off.

That night we landed at a roadside hotel, thankful for hot showers and the gift of being alive.  We set up our altar, with a crystal grid and powerful bits that were sacred to us as individuals and as a traveling band of gypsies.  We gave thanks to our ancestors, particularly mine and Sandy’s dad, who was ecstatic to have us in California; a state he lived in for almost 30 years.

The next day/yesterday, we woke and set intentions…mine was to get to Mount Shasta that night, which we did.  In moments like these, I generally like to be behind the wheel.  So I drove the 10 hours or so North to get us there.

Mount Shasta

Well, I am off on adventure.  I will be sharing stories from the road via Facebook live, and blogging about our vortex adventures tomorrow morning, so stay tuned folks.  It’s a hell of a ride!

spreading love-salicrow

Stories of Spirit…the Sorrow of One [mourning alone]

As a Medium; I have encountered death in many, many ways.  My first brush with death occurred when I was 3 months old, and my father’s, mother passed.  This event, was something, that showed others in my family; particularly, Grammy Brown, that I was able to see/perceive Spirits.  Since that moment, death has been a constant companion of mine.  I have had many personal losses, and have stood witness/messenger, to countless numbers of others.  There is no ‘one-way’ to experience the loss of death, for it is a multi-faceted, and generally requires us to experience it’s power over and over again; sometimes through deep sadness, sometimes through rage, sometimes through an emptiness that would challenge the vastness of space.  One thing that remains constant when it comes to death is that we all mourn alone.

No matter how much we share love of someone with another, the feeling of loss created by death is a lonely thing.  It is something that demands privacy, taking up long hours, in our mind.  It is something that shows up when we are having a great time, reminding us that something is missing, often asking us “How can you be so happy, when your Beloved Dead is not here to join you?” It speaks loudest to us when we are feeling vulnerable, or doubting ourselves, telling us that we will never find happiness again, without our beloved.  The closer we were to the death, the harder and longer it sits with us.  When enough time has gone by, and others see that we should be done mourning, death requires us to hide our sorrow, “move-on” the outside world says, but death whispers quietly in our ears “stay, don’t forget how important they were to you”.

There is no easy answer here.  I cannot bestow words of wisdom upon you, that will take away your sorrow, like the brush of a magic wand.  But I can tell you that communication helps.  Not just Spirit Communication, although in truth communication with your Beloved Dead, is one of the most powerful healing tools I know of, as it gives us the proof that they are not truly gone, but simply existing in another realm.  But not everybody is open or has the ability to make connection with their dead, so that is why good old fashioned talking about it is helpful.  Friends, counselors, and support groups help us to make peace with the sorrow of our loss, even when the others we speak to cannot fully understand our pain.  The act of sharing it, helps us to move it from the hidden realms of our mind, into the light of day where it can be cared for.

This advice is particularly important for those who have experienced a deep loss, such as that of a lover, child, or parent.  When we loose the ones we hold most dear, their death will become a constant companion of ours.  It will attend us in our every day life, and go with us to special events.  It will come around heavily, laden with emotion on the anniversary dates of their loss, and their birthdays, and anniversaries.  It will show up, when a song comes on the radio, or a childhood toy reminds us of them, when the weather is just so, and when we wake slowly from a dream in which they have come to visit.  For those most heavily hit by the loss of a loved one, death will return again, and again, and again.

So what can we do in those overwhelming moments?  What can we do to ease our pain, and find peace?

First of all we must remember we are human, and innately flawed.  We need to be patient with ourselves, and practice the art of  ‘speaking vulnerably’, which simply means talking when you feel weak.  Not everyone can do this, in fact most people stop talking about their loss, thinking that others will perceive that they should be over it by now.  It is my belief that people are generally kind.  That if we tell them we are having a hard day, and that death is speaking very loudly to us today, that we are in a deep space of mourning, they will understand, and most often seek to give us support.  The problem is, that most of us do not do this when we are feeling vulnerable, instead we batten down the hatches and prepare to ride out the storm.  In doing so, we often act in ways that are not really pleasant to ourselves or others.  We may even find ourselves lashing out, again at ourselves and others, and when it is done, we feel like an asshole, but lack the means to explain our actions.

Secondly, I recommend setting up sacred space for our Beloved Dead.  A simple shelf can be turned into an altar or shrine, with just a few items and some attention.  Place a picture of your loved one, who has crossed over, on the shelf, as well as any mementos that remind you of them.  Light a candle, and sit with them for a bit.  Even if you do not sense them, know that they are beside you.  For as a Medium, I know that our loved ones in Spirit are reaching out, trying to help us heal…even when we perceive them as having moved on, there is a part of their essence that stays connected to the ones they love.

We all mourn alone, and some of us do that more truly then others…This is most true for people who pull themselves away from the world of the living, identifying their loss as the story of their life.  It is also true for those who have loved in secret, been the other woman/man, or who have had a relationship that was hidden from the real world.  The loss in these cases can be overwhelming, and again…my answer is talk about it.  Find a friend who understands, or a counselor/healer who gets you.  But do not suffer with your loss alone.

I hope you found this article helpful, please feel free to share it, as I believe it is a message that needs to be heard, again, and again, and again.

spreading love-salicrow

 

 

 

Stories of Spirit…The Betwixt & Between [guidance from the ancestors]

familyalterAs a Medium, communication with the dead is a normal thing for me.  I spend many hours, every week in conversation with people who have crossed over.  Most of the time, I am helping the living find closure and re-connection after the death of a loved one.  I find this to be highly rewarding, and feel proud of the work that I do.  Occasionally, I am given the opportunity to take the communication a step further, out of the place of healing and into the place of growth.

This weekend, under the bright full moon my sister and I held our annual, ancestor honoring event ‘The Betwixt & Between’.   We have done it for many years and always look forward to it.  It has always been focused on honoring our Beloved Dead (family, friends, ancestors and guides), and includes direction for setting up an Ancestor altar, techniques for expanding your awareness; for personal experience with Spirit, and messages from the dead, passed on by me.  In the past the Dead we were reaching out to were coming forward to bring love and healing to their living, and it was in many ways like my Gallery Spirit communication.  This year we changed it up a bit.

Upon looking at the guest list, I was aware that the majority of people who were attending this year were people with a more advanced skill level in the area of spirit.  I saw this as an opportunity to do something extraordinary.  So instead of this being a time for people to hear from their dead grandmother; about how much she loved them and things they enjoyed doing together, it became a place of learning.  I wanted to model the traditional reasons why tribal society chose to communicate with their dead.  In most cases this was done for advice, particularly in times of great need.  People would gather in solemn respect for their Ancestors and humbly ask for direction.

21 of us gathered at Blissful Dragon Farm, in Waterford, VT.  When people arrived they were asked to walk the labyrinth to center themselves for the work at hand, and invited to tie a ribbon to the cloutie tree (prayer tree).  When the fire was ready, everyone walked through burning incense into Dragon’s Teeth Circle; the last stone circle created by Ivan McBeth this autumn, before his passing.  As each person was anointed with sacred oils, they were asked to find the stone that called to them, the place they were to set up their personal altars.

With the altars set, chairs were brought into the center of the circle close to the fire.  The stones and the family altars created a strong boundary around the participants.  By this time, people were starting to feel the energy of the space, and that of their ancestors gathering close.  We did spiritual journey work, so that everyone could reach out to their loved ones, and then showed them how the spirits were moving in on the mist.  The area inside the circle became thick with the closest ancestors and beloved dead, and the area outside the circle was filled with the many, many spirits that had shown up to hold space and be acknowledged.

The messages past were powerful.  I always feel honored, when I have the opportunity to speak for the Wisdom Keepers, who are in spirit.  Even though the messages were delivered to individuals, the wisdom was beneficial for all.  One of the first Spirits to speak was a recently departed mother.  She had made many mistakes in her life, and had a lot of struggle.  Her message was of forgiveness.  She spoke of the need for forgiveness in our world, and how often the best teachers are the ones that need the most forgiveness.  The ones who are unable to change.  I found this to be quite profound, as I have been a bit obsessed with the idea of Radical Forgiveness, lately.

Radical Forgiveness is the act of forgiving without expectation.  When it comes to forgiveness most people find themselves using the word but, a lot.  They say “I forgive you, but…”.  This is not true forgiveness.  True forgiveness comes with nothing attached, and we give it not only for the benefit of the one needing forgiveness, but for ourselves as well.  For through forgiveness, we can break the karmic chains that keep pulling us back to the same lesson over and over again.  Radical Forgiveness does not ask us to forget, or to give consent for the actions that caused the wrong, it simply asks us to let go, move on, and stop dwelling on the wrongs done.  When we hold onto such things we keep everyone involved, wound up tight in a knot of pain.

Another of the powerful bits of wisdom passed on from the Ancestors was around death itself.  The Spirit that came through was a representative of the wounded soldier.  He was a military man in life, and spoke of the healing needed when one has lived a life of war.  He said that sometimes when the body gets old, and the physical wounds endured in youth become overwhelming, all we can do is prepare for death.  He did not speak as poetically as I am speaking right now.  He was matter of fact, and to the point.  His lesson was not about giving up on life, but about facing your demons and preparing for your passage into spirit.  I found this to be a potent lesson, as my father had done just what he spoke of.  My dad was a Vietnam Vet, who spent the last 2 years of his life finding a deep spiritual practice.  He found forgiveness for himself, and a new purpose in those last years, and was ready when his time came to enter the spirit world.  Preparing for death, does not mean your death is around the corner, it means you will be ready when that time comes.  When someone has been to war, and seen and done things they regret, their soul needs to find peace.  If we do not do this in life, then that is what we will be facing when we cross over.

Two different spirits came through to talk about anger, and love.  They spoke from different perspectives on the need to let go of anger and how nothing good comes out of it.  Anger directed at another person, seldom changes them, instead it changes the one holding the anger.  We spend our days filled with this energy, and it transforms our view of life, showing us more that we can be angry with.  But again, how is that helpful, how many of you jump right up and do something for someone who is directing anger and hatred in your direction?  How do you feel when you hold such emotions?  Transforming anger into love is potent.  If you look at it from the terms of quantum theory/what we think, we create.  I know I want more love in my life and less anger.

ivandragonteethThere were many powerful messages passed, and I walked away feeling truly blessed by the experience.  The last to speak that night was my friend, Ivan McBeth, the Druid who built the stone circle we sat in.  He was so ecstatic to be there, and almost everyone present could see him clearly.  His energy was huge, and his message was sweet and beautiful.  He spoke of remembering how powerful we are.  He reminded everyone present that when we focus on the darkness we will find it in plenty, but when we focus on the light and the beautiful, kind things we are capable of, we can manifest that as well.

I believe we all chose to come in at this moment in time.  It certainly is a chaotic one, with many things to fear if we focus our lens that way.  But I also believe that this is a time of great change, which makes it a powerful time of healing.  I know I chose to be here, and that I will continue to choose to be present spreading love wherever I go.  I was deeply touched by the evenings events and thankful for the many spirits who stepped forward to share their knowledge and guidance with us.  I hope you enjoyed the read.

spreading love-salicrow