“When we sit with the multiple rejections of our kinship with Nature, we’re left to investigate why. I explain to my students that this lack of connection is the broken path to our present, and in the gap of that brokenness is every cultural wound we experience. It is the heart of our disconnection from and devaluing of each other. It is the colonized projection of the individual, which justifies taking no responsibility for relationship. It is our inability to make the connection between the agency of our toaster, our cousin, and consumerism. It is our traumatic separation from the wisdom of our Ancestors and the disrespect of elders and descendants. It is the advent of trauma itself. It is why we can’t function without modern conveniences even while sitting with the harm they create. It is why we don’t know how to survive in the wild. When we sit with these rejections we also find little to no space held for our Sacred Selves. When we can’t locate our sacredness in that gap, we realize that our settler-centric systems and institutions intentionally propagate the brokenness, and our unconscious biases as folx raised in those systems set us up to, in turn, unconsciously exacerbate the wound.

I tell them that until we make these biases conscious, our best efforts are still breaking the path. Until our models of care include all bone, soil, water, air, and fungi, we’re still breaking the path. After the shock, denial, grief, and humiliation, their heartbreak around that realization and commitment to tending the spirited path gives way to the ancient call of the wild: embody, be, do.”

In the Danger of Death Sessions with Kelley Harrell

This book is the one I wished to read from the time I was about 14 years old. I started to realize that even though I had a wonderful elder who taught me that everything was alive, I was unable to assimilate that awareness and my experience of souls into the demands of everyday life. As an adult I didn’t have anyone who could help me weave that way of being into how to hold down a day job, maintain a household in settler economy, survive systems that really do want me dead. This book helped me understand why it’s that way and what we have to do to change it. From Elder to Ancestor is the owners’ manual of soul-in-form that I’ve craved all of my life, and it comes out June 2024. It’s available for pre-order now.

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Originally published on Soul Intent Arts.

S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.

I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula held by Tuscarora, Woccon, and Sissipihaw land. 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 several books on soul work and runes, and when moved 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.

#beyourcommunity ~ #youareecosystem

elder well, die well, ancestor well


A black wood-grained background with the Elder Futhark in a circle and the words "What in the Wyrd," "Soul Intent Arts"
The Spirited Path Soul Tending Intensive
Reawakening with the Runes mini class

Elder Well

To bear your unique gift to the world.

Die Well

To leave the planet better than you found it.

Ancestor Well

So that your descendants never elder alone.