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Present Amber: Death and Rebirth I

Present Amber
Death and Rebirth, part 1: Death and Grief 


                                                                                           

Amber Xanthy Van Cleave September 2, 1972 –

As I am moving closer to a retreat I am choreographing on the theme of Transformation: Death and Rebirth, synchronicity keeps tossing relevant material into my path for consideration.  Some examples: right now House of Aromatics is introducing a new line of anointing oils, inspired by the practice of anointing loved ones through the passage from this life; I recently participated in an anthroposophical workshop on the study of Biography, including unseen forces that shape our lives and the passage beyond; a recent issue of Lillipoh magazine was themed “Approaching The Threshold”between life and death; The Smell of Rain on Dust, a book by Martín Prechtel, resurfaced in my thoughts, with its poignant discussion of Grief and Praise; some of my friends have embarked on studies of the art of death-midwifing, hospice work, or singing for hospice patients; and certainly not least, a death in my family gave me cause for contemplation closer to my own heart.  Death seems to be “in the field”.  

There is a movement to reclaim Death as a natural part of living.  I asked Erica Guinn, creator of our anointing oils, for some references I might use to “bone up” before my retreat.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.) She led me to the website for The Order of the Good Death.  There’s loads to explore there, including links to a You Tube show called “Ask a Mortician”, links for natural and eco-friendly burial, podcasts, children’s books about death, etc.  She also pointed me to the work of Stephen Jenkinson, author of Die Wise, and to Francis Weller’s The Wild Edge of Sorrow (gatherings and book).  I also learned from her that the legalities around death could be surprising for many of us, and are not necessarily what those in the industry would readily reveal to us when the time comes to deal with the fact.  For instance, the traditional three-day vigil held over a loved-one’s body, which has been almost universally replaced by a call to authorities to come and whisk the body away.  There are deeper reasons for such a vigil, which we could miss out on if we turn over responsibility to strangers so automatically.  

Eric Scott Bresselsmith July 23, 1965 – 

Pondering the inevitable has me wanting to take a more proactive stance with regard to “having the conversation”.  It’s just part of the deal.  People I love are going to die.  I myself am going to die.  We just don’t know who will go first.  It makes sense to me to talk about it together, find out preferences, get things in writing, look into all the nooks and crannies and be a little more prepared.  An Internet search for “End of Life Planning” comes up with some ideas and checklists from various perspectives.  Yet we can never be fully prepared.  Grief as well is inevitable, and another thing I feel our modern culture does poorly.  

I have had the great privilege of working with the late Sobonfu Somé to create a version of the Dagara tribe’s grief ritual in our community in Eugene, Oregon.  This powerful work has profound healing potential that reaches back into ancestral wounds and forward to affect the lives of our descendants.  Ungrieved grief, both culturally and individually, can cause illness, depression, addiction, abuse, and can even lead to lack of empathy and violence.  Movement and release through the stages of grief clears the way for healing and opens us up to the possibility of new life and of authentic joy.  We live in a society that discourages grieving.  This in itself is compelling reason for grief!  There is also a movement to reclaim grief as both individual and community process.  Malidoma Somé  has brought grief ritual to many, and a quick Internet search (try: grief ritual) can yield clues to help find a path to the support that is right for each one of us.  I encourage you to take the first step.  We all will benefit. 
 
Love and Blessings
<3 Amber

Sisters’ Retreat: Transformation!

Dear Sisters*,

I invite you to take part in a deep, nourishing, creative process this March!

TRANSFORMATION: Death and Rebirth March 4 – 7, 2019

Monday evening to Thursday afternoon at  Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch in Boulder, Utah. 

Pilgrimage North, Winter Season, Water Element


Opening Celebration: Sowing the Seed, a wake for lives we leave behind. Each woman writes her own Eulogy before the celebration. Friends and family are invited for the opening celebration Monday evening.

This is one of a 5-part series, where each retreat has a corresponding season, element, direction, emotion, voice, time of life…  There are many varying systems for aligning these qualities; I am working with the way that I have studied (a form of Chinese medicine) as an organizing principle, because I am most familiar with it and it works.

The “pilgrimage” is in both inner and outer landscapes.  The outer movement over the land in a certain direction is both metaphorically and physically evocative.  We move with an intention to practice relationship with self and other, with the land and nature, with the Divine/Creator in all, including ourselves.

The vision is for an immersion experience: for the group to sleep and dream together/nearby as much as possible.  Lodging will be at the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch.

Contact Amber to register or for more information.Community offering price: $75 to $200 sliding scale includes lodging when you register by February 28. Food will be partial potluck, partial pack your own.

Register now with $50 to claim your space!

 

 

 

Thanks!

Amber X. Van Cleave

axanthy@gmail.com

541 232-4379

*Woman-identified, transgender, and/or gender fluid individuals who are interested in sharing this experience please contact me to discuss whether this would feel like a safe space for you.

 
Top photo: a spread from Rainbow Warrior Awaken! deck by Mara Berendt Friedman (Artist) and Trinity Harris (Author)

Disclaimer! None of the statements would be or are approved by the FDA. Not meant to diagnose or treat anything! Educate yourself by studying ethno-botany, seek out herbalists, plant a garden, learn about wild plants. Do not use internally. Keep away from heat and direct light. Keep safe from young ones. Use with Wisdom & Intention.

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