Lewise, after I posted early in September about planetary soul loss, many more have shared their similar messages with me. First off, thank you for standing bravely in your work. Thank you for talking with me. Thank you for what you do here.
In the dialogue that has opened, several people expressed a need to learn more about deathwalking. I feel it’s important to note that while shamans are trained as deathwalkers, we all bear responsibility to tend death, by which I mean, to create a healthy consciousness in life so that we die well, to be able to identify when someone has not died “well,” to draw upon the resources available to release those who have not died well.
Do you have to be a shaman/volva/vitki to do these things? No, in short. I knew I was a deathwalker before I understood soul tending. Likewise, students have come to me with raw skills of deathwalking, who didn’t desire pursuing full shamanic training. Under most circumstances, I wouldn’t advise trekking the path of deathwalker without a full range of soul tending skills. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and I am not the keeper of the rule. Discuss.
What is deathwalking? One of the most credible people I know to answer that question is Kirstin Madden, the author of Shamanic Guide to Death and Dying. She’s not only a true deathwalker, but a compassionate teacher of how to love and live fully. What I learned from her years ago was to let go of my fear of the death realms, and to realize we’ve spent all our lives among them, already. There’s no division. Once we know that, our ability to be effective in life and death becomes radically within our power.
Deathwalking, from my perspective, is making sure that a being leaving (or that has left) form has closure on the life that came before leaving, that the being is escorted to the threshold of What Comes Next, is at peace with going beyond that threshold into the next destiny, and leaving the being in the place to do just that on its own terms.
Deathwalking is, in short, spiritual hospice.
Whatever needs to be done to move the dying or deceased to a point of peaceful progression to the next place, it is done. Their place is no longer in the formed realm, and we hold space to escort them from it.
Depending on the role and involvement of the deathwalker, deathwalking can comprise more specific work, such as helping someone n who is preparing for death to know how to navigate it, to counsel surviving family, to re-balance or clear family lines after death, to commend elderhood, to close the energy field of the deceased.
How these things are accomplished is where training in deathwork comes in. Much of it comes down to opening the conversation, and movement is generated in that release. So often acknowledgement is enough to shift a death dynamic. “What do you need?” “How can I help?” “It’s going to be okay.” “Would you like company?” It’s when mere conversation doesn’t open release that specific skills are needed.
While many of us may have an affinity to engaging or even working with the dead, it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily functional in it, or at peace with it. I find deathwork more than any other aspect of my path challenges my beliefs, my perceptions of Self and the world around me, and sometimes my own sanity. For that reason, again, training in how to be this role and still get through the everyday can go a long way in deepening ability as a deathwalker.
Beyond deathwalking the soul from the formed realm, there is also the consideration of web of lineage in which the soul is entwined. Ideally we all die reconciled of our traumas–those we endured, those we dealt. We often aren’t though, and the impact of those traumas affects the ability to move on and the burden carried by the living. When trauma goes unresolved over generations, it becomes handed down, just as much as family and community strengths and gifts. In order to truly be free of lineage trauma, we must bring that reconciliation as part of the deathwalk, which also involves engagement of living loved ones.
Deathwalkers don’t just see the dead. They feel their grief, their pain (physical, emotional, psychological), they somatically experience their deaths. This is the point that training in counseling technique and having various modalities of healing under your belt make a huge difference between someone who intuitively is aware of the dead, and someone who walks effectively and healthily among them–and back. No matter how much affinity you have with the dead, I’ve never met anyone who just knew how to deal with the emotional and psychological baggage it stirs, or how to deal with resistant dead. Again I say, find a mentor.
The tension between what we believe and what we experience is no more tested or destroyed than in deathwork.
In the context that I’ve discussed deathwalking of late, it’s not been about working with individuals, but regarding irreversible changes the planet is going through, and how we can all engage our unique roles to serve Her needs. Most of the time, deathwalking references people, less frequently places/spaces. Animals, birds, elements, trees… rarely have I ever had to assist a being of those families, though it has happened. Nature, by and large, knows what to do with itself, and it does it. Interestingly, those that have required deathwalking needed it as the result of some human aberration of their norm. The being was so knocked off trajectory by some human act, that it couldn’t get back on its own. So why would a planet have become in need of deathwalking, or soul custodianship?
Why wouldn’t it?
In this context, I’m not talking about Nature, or the trees, or a region. Rather, I mean we are coming to a time that deathwalking the soul of Midgard, or part of Her soul, is upon us. The direction I’ve been given in how we can do that is for each of us to claim our intimate relationship with the land we live on. We do it through our immediate Nature Allies. Whether that’s the front yard, a nearby park, or an entire region, get out and step up. Call in the spirit of that land, and ask what it needs. Learn if there are Land Elders, and if so, engage them. Ask what the relationship to each other should be. Ask how to bless that relationship daily, in concrete, doable rituals, then do them.
This interaction may not seem very deathwalky. For those of us not used to this both worlds discourse, it has to start somewhere. By opening the dialogue with the local Land Elders and home spirits, we create the opportunity for intimate awareness of what the land needs, which is a direct conduit to tending the planet’s soul. I’m confident that by opening this relationship with the local land spirits, the deeper picture of what’s happening with the planet and personal role with those spirits will come.
Again, to those of you who have responded to my writing about the planet’s needs now, thank you.
To those of you who didn’t believe you could, though feel the call, what do you need? How can I help? It’s going to be okay. Would you like company?