Excerpt from chapter two of my upcoming book, From Elder to Ancestor – Nature Kinship for All Seasons of Life

Repairing the Human-Nature Relationship

Engaging the Resources to Reconcile Our Separation from Nature

In the half-month of Berkana, March 2020, just before North Carolina went into pandemic lockdown, I saw Billie Eilish perform in Raleigh. It was the last show she performed on her preempted tour. I was concerned about going, though I felt deeply pulled to do so without understanding why. However, late in the performance, as Billie played a piano solo I left my body. I’ve had visions off and on through my life, and every time they have shocked me. This one was no different.

         I found myself in a black-and-white meadow just edging thick forest. An aspect of Billie danced there. After a few seconds she told me to follow her and took off running. I ran after her, and eventually we came to an enormous cliff face. The cliff was higher than any peak I’ve ever seen and was hundreds, if not thousands, of feet wide, but most remarkable were the many colors, textures, and focuses of artwork carved into it. It looked like a blocked quilt, top to bottom, with each square-ish section a different color and hosting unique drawings and styles of artwork. Most curious was that the figures etched into the colorful blocks were alive and animated, much like the introduction to The Brady Bunch TV show. The figures weren’t static or playing out a loop over and over. Rather, each square represented a different culture with unique skills and teachings, and their spot on the cliff face marked their embodied commitment to bear them forward. The cliff looked like a prehistoric rendering of every culture that has ever existed.

         This vision spanned two of Billie’s songs, though it played out in mere seconds of Other. It showed me a slow, calm display of the distilled convergence of every earthly wisdom tradition that has ever been. Every culture’s wisdom was compressed into a single representation, holding space on that cliff face for all of humanity, all of the Earth family.

         I cried in the middle of the concert as I sat with the understanding that all of these traditions were woven together in a pivotal pandemic moment to reinforce and reboot Earth through their distinct cultural narrative for the first time ever. The tapestry of their narratives was ancient, though I knew they had chosen that moment to come together as one human-person community to reaffirm and conjoin traditions for the current needs of the planet, to present possibility and caring to humanity, and course correct for the thousands of years that we haven’t actively done these things as a collective. It was like a sacred computer software system restore point for all of humanity, delivered by none other than our well Ancestors.

         They were shoring up humanity’s long-forgotten planetary frithgard that has existed since the dawn of humanity, and maybe before. They showed us our key resource to tend the broken path. They showed us that we can reengage it and that it is our job to do so. And we have to do it now.

From Elder to Ancestor by S. Kelley Harrell
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S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.

I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula. For the last 25+ years, through Soul Intent Arts I’ve helped others to ethically build thriving spiritual paths as fit, embodied elders, who upon death become wise, capable Ancestors. My work is Nature-based, and focuses soul tending through the Elder Futhark runes, animism, ancestral healing, and deathwork. I’m author of Runic Book of Days, and I host the podcast, What in the Wyrd. I also write The Weekly Rune as a celebration of the Elder Futhark in season. Full bio.

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