One of my ride or die past life friends walked out of her apartment and climbed into my eighteen year old car, Lucy, which used to belong to my beloved Grandma Lu. My fall semester playlist was on in the background. Before setting off on our spiritual field trip to see Marianne Williamson in Manhattan, John of God at Omega Institute, and a few days recuperating at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Blue Cliff Monastery, we pulled cards from Sonia Choquette’s Ask Your Guides Oracle Cards deck.
I pulled the Death card.
Immediately I wanted to put it back and choose again. Don’t make me do this, life, please. I want what I want when I want it, and the trope of ego-smashing, life-surrendering, faith-walking death is not my first thought on the “I want it” list. Deep breathe. I trust life. Fine, yes, I accept.
I’ve always been fascinated by death. When I was a little kid growing up in an atheist household before I had a spiritual awakening, I thought that death was just like going under anesthesia, all of a sudden there is nothing, no more feeling, an end to consciousness. Sometimes I fantasized about that relief. Sometimes I was terrified that if there wasn’t anything in death, than there wasn’t any meaning to life.
Now I believe that we exist before taking human form and that we exist after this experience of incarnation. I once heard James Van Praagh say that spirits like it when we say that we simply “drop the body” when a physical death transition happens. That resonates with me. In addition to dropping the body, there are so many other ways to explore the concept of death in life.
I’ve grown up in a four season climate on the east coast of the United States. I was born in the autumn and have always had an affinity for this time of year when the veils between worlds become especially thin. My due date to be born was on Halloween, October 31, and my mom’s water broke that day. My birthday is November 3, an ominous time to arrive, journeying through the days of the dead to life on planet Earth.
In this season the trees turn orange, yellow, red, and brown. You know this part of the story. On the outside the trees look like they are dying, but they aren’t. The leaves have served their purpose for the season, the plants will hibernate and conserve resources for the winter, and then they’ll bloom again come spring. Our seasons of (not dropping the body) death during incarnated life can mirror the predictability of these tree teachers.
The season of death is a shadow period. Now is a time to grieve, honor, and let go of who we were and what we used to want. Moving through this energetic time of death we can engage in rituals, make ceremony together, and lean into discernment practices about what we desire for the next chapters of life that will arrive after these appropriate seasonal and coming of age deaths.
This particular season of death is asking me to surrender more deeply to a higher power, to enjoying my present life just as it is right now, and to accept that I’m a “weird” witchy artist (again) and it’s safe to be me this time around. As I let go of fantasy, shame, and worry that I’m not going to get what I want, I’m leaning into the truth that the universe only trades up.
Life, I know you have our backs, show us what you’ve got as we walk through this season of death.