Today I want to speak about death. It is not something that occurs once in your lifetime, but over and over again throughout your days. Death is something we hate to allow and look at in our society, but it really is a part of life and it is here to stay. The easier time we have understanding, embracing and allowing death, the more joy, freedom and growth there is in store for us. So much of our pain and suffering comes from our resistance to death.
For me, the symbol of death is largely connected to serpent. Recently I found myself giggling as I made the connection to the serpent in the Adam and Eve story - how we have been low-key taught to fear transformation and personal power. Serpent Medicine often invokes intense fear, but only because it provides the catalyst for deep and meaningful change. In Medicine work, a serpent journey can be one of endless fear and terror if we fight it. The serpent asks us to allow ourselves to be devoured, to let go of old constructs and beliefs. This letting go is a very scary thing. We are asked to let go of old versions of ourselves that are rooted in fear and those versions need to move on so that our true selves can step in - the version of us that is in it's full power. Every death we endure puts us closer to our true self and closer to alignment with what we are here to do.
A few months ago I had this mind-blowing session with my favorite Seer. She is someone I meet with every few months to talk about what's coming up and it is where I go to get a little comfort in knowing that I am not alone. During this session, I could sense that I was about to go through a major life shift and I needed some support and validation for what I was experiencing. I didn't tell her this specifically - I only shared that I was looking for guidance in the general sense. However, validation and support was indeed what I got. This magical woman told me immediately that I was in the process of being swallowed by the serpent and that right behind her was death, waiting to catch everything that was falling away. My only job for the foreseeable future is to rest, surrender, nourish myself and allow all that I no longer need to fall away. I am being asked to allow myself to die so that I could be reborn. She shared many other wonderful things that have already come to fruition, but today we are going to stick to the conversation around death.
I immediately began following her instructions - I put most of my work and my clients on hold, I have been spending days in bed wrapped in my favorite blankets or in the woods sitting beneath the trees, pouring with pain, grief, and rage. I have been doing my best to be kind and gentle with myself, sticking to nourishing activities. Each day that I allow for this process and stillness to take place, more gold nuggets come falling through the cracks.
What does this look like from a practical standpoint? I am going to walk us through the recent months to demonstrate how death looks in real time. It can be a deeply painful and disorienting experience. I hope that in sharing this, it may be helpful to others. Some days have literally been so bad that I feel the need for psychiatric intervention - just to give you an idea about the intensity. The key is to maintain hope and just keep going.
As this process started, I began to feel the urge to cut my hair. It sounds so cliché, but really, women are wonderfully magical creatures who are so in tune with what is happening in and around them. Cutting the hair both symbolizes the letting go of the past, but can also initiate/facilitate the death process. By cutting off our hair, we are telling spirit that we are ready for transformation, we are ready to let go of the past.
Side note: Instead of honoring these beautiful intuitive abilities we have as women, we tend to poke fun at them. They become a joke or cliché. We've gotta stop doing that.
I can't speak for other women, of course, but cutting my hair has been a crazy intense process for me. I was fully prepared to shave my head entirely, but decided to instead pursue a lifelong dream - getting a mohawk. Initially this process felt empowering and brought up some intense warrior energy. I am finding a deep connection to a past life self who was literally a female warrior and have been channeling her in during this time of inner struggle. She holds a fierceness that I previously did not have and I am grateful to tap into it. She has also helped me channel some intense feminine rage - the timing of which is not lost on me in the time of around Roe v. Wade and countless Netflix documentaries highlighting the abuse of women in various cults. It has pulled rage out from deep within myself about moments that I have allowed men in my life to impose their beliefs on me around sex, being a dutiful wife, etc. or flat out abuse me. This rage was a lot to hold, but it was needing to be processed so I could move forward.
Since that initial cutting, my process has been quite different. Now when I get my hair touched up or altered, I come home to look in the mirror and just lose my shit. I have shouting in my head;
"You are ugly and foolish for cutting your hair."
"What are you, a Teenager? It is not appropriate to rebel like this. You're a grown ass woman."
"You are so fat. Now that your hair is gone, everyone can see how fat and ugly you are."
"You are not feminine and you are not beautiful. You are making yourself ugly."
The crying that comes in these moments is visceral, it comes from this deep pit in my being. Sometimes there is anger and moments of violent out bursting. There is so much shame, rage and judgment deep in those pits as well. All of these things were already here, they were not caused by the haircut - they were just buried or hidden behind my hair. When the hair was released, the emotions came up for processing and release.
The second thing I did in this process was pierce my Septum. I had been having visions of myself with a ring in my nose and knew it was something I needed to do even though my body historically rejects anything inserted into it. The day after this piercing was completed, I felt this stream of energy circulating in my body, traveling upwards and moving front to back in a giant loop. It felt like I had opened a gate that was previously closed, something I needed to help facilitate what was coming. This was probably the easiest part of my death process so far (lol). This piercing feels deeply spiritual and empowering in ways I cannot explain.
Then the separation began between myself and my husband. I was being moved to spend our nights sleeping separately, doing activities separately, and even taking significant physical space from one another. The fighting reached an unbearable level and I felt like I was losing my best friend. We deeply discussed separating and I opened a separate bank account in preparation of having to support myself. One day it feels like we are on the verge of divorce, living in two entirely different dimensions, and the next we are more connected than ever. It was madness and we we were unable to find a therapist to help us move through it. I now know it is because all of our deep attachment strings are finally starting to snap and fall away.
Not only am I dying, but so is my marriage, because it has encompassed such a big aspect of me up until this point. Yet the foundation our relationship was built on is one built of obligation, trauma, and fear. I chose him out of fear of being a single parent and he chose me out of trauma. There is so much love there too, but you get the picture. That foundation is being demolished and the pain of it is sometimes unbearable. As a result of this death, we are being offered the opportunity to choose - either we let the crumbling foundation of our previously unhealthy relationship fall away and we look at our own trauma so we can rebuild the foundation - or we let it crash on down and move on in separate directions. It is clear which one is the "easier" route, but what we both want is also clear.
Two months after that started crashing down, an old client of mine offered to work with us (for free) as part of her educational practicum as a couples counselor. It turns out that this woman carries some profound Relationship Medicine. Surprise! I am watching our relationship being transformed in ways I never thought possible and profound healing is coming for both of us in the process. What a magnificent thing to have that fall into our laps! It is a reminder that when you let things fall away, the universe is always ready to catch and hold you through it.
Then there is Africa. Through this death process I am seeing how many things I haven't said "yes" to in my life for reasons based in fear or judgment. Africa called me when I was a little kid - the continent itself and the gorillas specifically. As a Medicine Woman, these callings to other places are so important - we must listen to them always. When you are called to a place, there is Medicine for you there. For me, I have been called to different places in the world for new plant medicines, for attunement, for personal healing, to retrieve soul parts, or to be activated. Africa was my original/first calling, but it was one I had long since stored away because it felt like a silly child's dream.
As soon as I started to consider a trip to Africa, my mother's voice rang loud and clear in my head. "That's dangerous, you can't go alone!" " That's too expensive" "That's silly". My mom is an absolutely wonderful person, don't get me wrong, but as a little kid I internalized so many phrases that she probably said unconsciously and based in her own trauma. No wonder I hadn't yet made time to visit Africa.. what was I waiting for?
And so I booked a trip to Africa.
As soon as this happened, things really began to churn. When I go to my power place to meet my guides (a Shamanic practice I engage in regularly), they have departed. They tell me there is something "bigger" coming and that my time with them is done. Most days I am completely unable to access that space because I am so deep in the transformation process. When I do, I can see that my power place is being demolished and a new one is coming through more clearly - it is an African Jungle. The energy moving up and through me has shifted into something base level, primal and deep. It feels like pure power. I am receiving messages that I am coming home to ancestors when I come to Africa - not human ancestors, but ones that are much deeper. I do not have any physical bloodlines that originate in the area of Africa that calls to me, but my heart and soul knows that my people are there. In some deep profound way, I know that my time in Africa is going to change my life forever.
Finally, incoming is the death of Sacred Heart, the incredible organization that I built from nothing. This organization is but an extension of myself, and one that has too been built on a wonky foundation. This death process has probably been the most challenging due to the heavy involvement of my ego. And ego death is the fucking worst. Having to break a commercial lease, risking litigation, and announcing this closure publicly, after being so proud of myself for how far I have come, has been agonizing on many levels. But its time to let it die so it can be reborn. It's time to let go of any ego attachment to what Sacred Heart looks like or what it's here to do.
There have been many indications that this tower was falling and I am glad I listened to them before I was *forced* to let it die. This can look like pure catastrophe if surrendering isn't done when it's being asked of you. Surrendering is so much easier.
First, 1:1 Ceremony is no longer my jam and it isn't in line with what I am here to do as a healer/shaman/human at this point. It had it's place for me for several years, but it was time to move on last year. When that message became clear, I should have stopped offering it entirely in the organization, but I wanted so badly to give me Facilitators the chance to do this work and I was trying to figure out how to pay our $12k rent. You see where the faulty foundation is coming into play? We helped so many people through this offering, and I ultimately regret nothing, but I am seeing clearly where the foundation was weak.
Second, I was trying to provide too much to the community right off my back instead of offering things that felt good to me and stopping things once they no longer felt good. I pushed myself to burnout trying to offer something to everyone at all times.
In my head, as I write this, I hear "but I just want to help as many people as possible". Eck, what an unhealthy mindset that is. Through this process I am reminded that you can only help people by being the truest and fullest version of yourself - coming into your own alignment. Hosting multiple community events on my own every week was not in alignment for me.
What feels aligned to me right now is my weekend long Ceremony and that is what I am focusing on from this point forward until I am called to do something different. The truth is that the energy/spirit/Medicine I work with requires a weekend-long container, 48+ hour support and a very specific setting. When I do anything less, I am not fulfilling my role as a Medicine Woman to the best of my ability. When I do these weekend Ceremonies, I feel so much joy and energy flow through me and so much profound change in every person who chooses to sit.
These are the things we should focus on in our work - working from a place of pleasure instead of a place of pressure. Doing what feels good instead of doing what feels draining. What a profound lesson this has taught me - I true life lesson that will forever change how I approach my work.
And so Sacred Heart is closing it's [physical] doors at the end of August. The weekend Ceremonies and occasional community events, as I feel called to do them, will resume on Meetup. Otherwise Sacred Heart is temporarily retreating to go through it's own death and rebirth. This organization has shown and taught me so much about myself and allowed me and my team to help so many people. I am beyond grateful for all of those experiences and 100% do not regret any of it. But again, it's time to let it die and I am surrendering to that the best way I know how.
Today I am still deep in the death process. I know there is so much more to come, likely months of it if we are being honest. In sharing my process openly and from a space of vulnerability, I am expressing intense gratitude and reverence for death, Serpent Medicine and all the lessons I have learned leading up to this process. Thank you for listening and hearing what I have to say.