To Die

The other night, Tiw’s Dag, I woke in the middle of the night from a powerful dream. My Seiðr mentor’s recording (she is a singer, musician and performance artist as well as a shamanic practitioner) of Farvel Gamle Rokken, which is a stunningly beautiful song, can be heard in the dream. She and I and another woman whom I could not see were all going to a burial chamber to die. K is telling me about a process where our bodies will be cleaned with Vitamin D and it makes the dying person almost feel alive again. We are experiencing this and witnessing it at the same time. I see that K has gone before me, I see how her body is prepared and how she is ready to sleep and she is at once wholly ready for it and wholly sad to leave all she has known. She lies down and is in a dark cave-like atmosphere that is moist, quiet, and has just the barest light illuminating from somewhere. I see her lying there for a long time and I experience it. Suddenly, she breathes another huge breath and wakes, she tells me she’s not quite ready and will wait for me. She tells me all about her ceremony and I tell her I want the same ceremony, only I’m worried that there will be no one to give it for me. I want to join her at this time rather than die alone. She jumps and dances in the dim light singing. She somehow shoots off three arrows from a bow that is larger than life, massive, into the sky which is not a sky but the grey walls of this enormous, yet enclosed space which feels both vast and cosy. After we rejoice about what small life we have left in us, we look down the cavern at all those that lie there and we know we can’t fight it forever. We lie down and are covered with wet shrouds. She continues to hum Farvel Gamle Rokken as she drifts out of consciousness.

You might already know or guess how superstitious I am if you read my blog. I have very strong feelings about voicing certain things casually, death being one of those subjects that I am careful about. However, that is usually in a casual situation. I do not joke about death, usually (although there are certainly times for light humor about a dark aspect) and will not utter words that could be construed as curses. To speak its name…that is a slippery thing. And to voice a wish it on another is, in my opinion, a complex curse upon the one who wishes it as well as the one intended. But it has a different flavor when approached in this manner, as one of the great mysteries I wish to understand. Although there is folklore about not speaking the contents of a nightmare or a dream of ill-omen. It’s all in the feeling of the dream, though. I’ve certainly had dreams where the feeling was clearly omen-ish, and those I might not be so quick to share. I really wanted to share this one here because this dream experience was unbelievably profound. I awoke from this dream not with fear or terror, but with a knowing. A comfort, almost. This dream helped me, in a sense as close as I can probably get aside from actual death, to experience this transition. Even though the imagery of it sounds incredibly disturbing, and especially since someone I care about is featured so directly. I keep coming back to the lore about dream imagery as being representations of our inner selves, our souls, or of concepts that because they are ineffable, they may present themselves in ways that are easier for us to understand. This dream was so vivid, so visceral, and so utterly foreign, and yet, familiar in a very eerie way. My ideas about death have changed a thousand-fold, I think, from just a number of years ago, and now even more so after this dream experience. It gets less scary the more I contemplate it and try to understand its mystery and wisdom.

These dreams in the middle of the night (as I’ve discussed before) are important to me because they seem to be archetypal dreams, images and concepts that are human and not merely individual in nature. They are also some of the most instructive dreams for me, teaching me about very difficult to grasp ideas, like death, paradox, and the nature of the cosmos. I am glad to have experienced this in a non-terrifying way. Not that the concept isn’t still scary, of course, but it’s getting closer to understanding the process of metamorphosis. It’s like in that ecstatic posture book, many of the postures are meant to teach about the mysteries of death and intense transformation. Again, the concept of dismemberment comes up again, which I know sounds really horrifying, and it certainly gave me pause to read about some of the experiences people have with some of these postures. But just like my dream, the people reported that these experiences were restorative, regenerative, understanding, feeling liberated through pain. It is a strange thing, but I guess the closest I can come to compare it to something we understand is childbirth, or even working out. Something that can create very uncomfortable or downright horrible pain, but that brings us to a pleasant end. To me, childbirth has got to be the best example of paradox that I’ve ever heard. It’s hard for me to grok the whole concept of having one’s netherparts being ripped open and being happy about it!

It’s a crazy freaking world, man!

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