Sail forth – steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless O Soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the
seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!
~ Walt Whitman, from Passage to India
During this time of Corona Virus I have been paying close attention to the psycho-spiritual meaning for us collectively and the sense that many of us have of it being a descent (into the underworld), an initiatory journey. But what does this mean? It means that the usual patterns and activities of our known human experience are left behind, even lost forever. It means we encounter challenges and uncertainties that have never before been faced and that within this there is an ordeal of some kind. In order for the initiation to fully take-hold there needs to be an internal shift, a movement out of one life stage into the next, a shift in consciousness whereby the psyche lands in a different orientation from which it is accustomed. Something needs to die. Some part of ourselves needs to experience a death. And so, there are sacrifices.
I believe this to be the exact same process that, as individuals, some of us go through if we participate in rites of passage ceremonies, or some kind of solo quest/vigil. These ancient practices were/are there for a reason and now I am seeing how the specific process of the ceremonies is being mirrored in this collective journey we are currently on. And there is a difference right now.
In this instance actual deaths, physical sacrifices are happening. People are dying and, due to social distancing, they are often dying alone and funerals are often not being attended. I have had concerns about this for some time. My concern is that the souls, the lives of these people are not being honored and acknowledged in a way that makes meaning or offers healing for them or their loved ones as they pass over to the ‘seas of God’ as Whitman puts it. People are simply not allowed, in most instances, to physically be present and something profoundly healing can be lost in that. In a culture that does not give space for grief there is even less space for grief to be felt and expressed. The celebration and the honoring of lives and the continuing prayers and offerings of support for the passing souls feels, to me, like an imperative right now.
One morning a few days ago I found myself digging a grave for all those people who have already died and also for the ones who will die during the pandemic. The deaths do not need to have been from Corona Virus for there are many deaths happening, as there always are.
I go there each day to be in ceremony. I offer something into the grave. I sing, I pray, I beat stone and bone together, I decorate and clear the area. For the souls to pass in a good way I offer something (usually a feather) to the stream that flows through the land. On the second or third day I heard myself saying, “Safe passage” as I made this offering to the flowing water. The words have stayed with me. In my deep imagination I see a vessel on the water making its way through the passage of time and space and taking with it the souls who have left the bodies. I offer them deep peace, and for them to return to Source, to Love, to their original and true state. I reassure them they will not be forgotten. I don’t know in my head what these words really mean and I’m ok with that. What I do know is that I feel something strong and true in me as I speak them, or even as I type them here. The feeling is clear and full of love and for me, that is enough.
What would it be if we all offered ourselves and each other the ‘safe passage’ that is our original birth or death rites? (or rights?). It’s what all of us deserve, no matter who we are, where we’re from or how we’ve lived our lives. I believe the way in which we move into the next realm of existence is vital for our planetary health and collective psyche’s evolution. It feels important at this time to ancestralize each other well. To fully engage in our personal living and dying as if all of us matter is to offer that full engagement to each other’s living and dying and therefore to the Whole.
There is not only the actual death of individuals, there is the collective death of a way of existing that many of us now believe is no longer tenable. Letting go of what needs to die will be hard, impossible for some. For others it will feel like the most natural thing in the world, a moment their soul has been waiting for for some time (even if they/we didn’t know it previously). The ability, or willingness, to stay present to what is dying in us, or what needs to die, is as vital as the willingness to honor the passing another’s soul after physical death has taken place.
Some of us may already be experiencing our own personal dying of parts of ourselves and shifts in our psyche and it is good if we can stay present to that process. It will mean that how we show up in the world afterwards will be different. The outward expression of this shift will be the gift we have to offer to life as a result of the inner journey we are now on. Again, this completely mirrors the rites of passage ceremonies that some of us offer; we cross a threshold, from one realm of reality into another (in this case the middle world of life as we know it and into the underworld where the deep imagination gets worked and we become more receptive to the Otherness, or a deeper conversation with the Mystery). We go down, in, under. We meet ourselves (and in the case of a quest ceremony, the other-than-humans as well) in ways we have never done before. Then we return to life with the gifts of the journey and a way of being in service that is more about the Whole, the larger community than about just us. And this time in certainly not just about ‘me’ and ‘mine’.
So, even if our actual deaths are always alone, shall we offer each other engagement and support in our psycho-spiritual dying so that there is some chance of a safe passage to take place?
Guidance for Safe Passage
In response to this personal inquiry and as a Rites of Passage guide and threshold midwife I am deeply interested in how to support you through this descent moment that we are all in, to explore alongside you ‘what or who needs to die?‘ or ‘what or who has died that I need to mark?‘. How can we make this transition more conscious and find deeper meaning for the collective good?
This could look like 1-1.5 hour sessions on the phone or online where I will listen and offer reflections and also assignments ~ processes to support a descent of the soul, a ‘dying’ process that will create the conditions for a safe and honorable rites of passage to take place. My deep longing is that this will, in turn, support you to embody whatever life needs you to be in the next chapter that all of us will enter into after the collective descent.
For all enquiries contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org