Sunday, February 23, 2014

Healing and Death

"…To be whole, regardless of life or death. This approach is described in a novel by Tony Hillerman where he describes a Navajo man, Chee, remembering the healing of his grandmother:

"Most of all he remembered the hataalii standing grey and thin and tall over his grandmother, holding a tortoiseshell rattle and a prayer plume of eagle feathers, chanting poetry from the emergence story, making Old Lady Many Mules one with White Shell Girl, restoring her to beauty and harmony. And restore her it had. Chee remembered staying at the old woman’s place, playing with his cousins and their sheepdogs seeing his grandmother happy again, hearing her laughter. She died of course. The disease was lung cancer, or perhaps tuberculosis, and people with such diseases died – as all people do. (Quoted in The Trickster, Magician and Grieving Man by Glen A Mazis, p. 240.)

"Because our culture has such an intense fear of death we frame our healing in terms of life. Healing however comes from the word for ‘wholeness’ and within many traditions healing does not automatically mean to live. Unless we see death as an integral and right part of life we cannot hold this view. All authentic spiritual traditions, ancient and modern, have a holy place reserved for death. Within the western traditions the magic circle is divided into two halves, one that tracks our life from birth to death and the other which tracks our existence from death to rebirth. Healing is about being whole within ourselves, integrated and complete. We can be healed and die. We can live and not be healed. Without healing though we are fragmented and splintered, in life or death. We become the unquiet dead, restless and longing. Or we become living cogs in a ravenous, ever-hungry consumerism that feeds on injustice and pain."

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