Living with Death as a Companion to Life
A year ago I was taken closer to death than I have ever been. Either through the terrifying physical and spiritual collapse I experienced or by my own choice because I felt I just could not face what I was being asked to live into, to see. I so wanted to go home, the big Home. I “knew” somewhere in there that I was being initiated, and that being forced to face my demons, all my hidden fears and illusions, all at once would make me more True, but the nature of an initiation is that it is total - the comfort of perspective is a very rare glimpse. My community and my family saved me. I understand now what it really means for a priestess to be of one heart with the community she serves. I owe my life to the ones who loved and protected and held me, so many of you, and so in the deepest way, we are woven.
So for me now this is what it’s like to live with death as a companion for an even more honest life. I confess, I don’t know what I thought it would be to be more intimately initiated by death, but I may have imagined it would leave me feeling more…….awesome? Mostly it’s very present. My most cherished fantasies have been annihilated and I know how deep the fear on either side of the present moment can be. It doesn’t ask for me to be anything special. It asks for me to be brave. And to pray. A whole lot.
As I’m approaching the beginning of the third cycle of Her Mystery School, I wonder why I feel irritated when I’m referred to as a successful “fempreneur” and almost strangely unseen when what I offer is referred to as “women’s empowerment work.” These are meant to be compliments.
But this is not my business. It’s a calling. In a way that I mostly love and sometimes fear, it’s not about me living “the life of my dreams.” Her Mystery School not about being a powerful woman who always knows what to do. It’s about the reality that we live in a Mystery that can be as devastating as it is ecstatic, and we often don’t know what to do, and we are often tragically isolated and alone in that experience. It’s about recovering the lost wisdom of a deep feminine ancestry that supersedes even ancient culture because it precedes culture. It lives in the female body and teaches us how to sit down in the power of whatever is upwelling in the moment and become one with that power. It can be grief, the ecstasy of the sexual fire, devastation, inspiration, it is everything. She is everything. And the way She moves, touches others, restores peace, and calls us forward is a kind of salvation that is not simply false hope.
Her Mystery School isn’t just for women either. At some point we’ll create offerings for men as well, but that’s not what I mean. Woman in the fullness of what she was created to be stewards life and the power that lives in her for the good of ALL. Anything happening out there that creates separation may have a measure of value and truth but it lacks its root if it emasculates, criticizes, generalizes, or fails to uphold and call forward the beauty, heart and generosity that lives or is hidden in most men.
When I came home from my pilgrimage last year barely able to walk, my spirit wandering way too far from home, and my heart in agony, my community could only hold me so much. I had to learn how to hold myself. So I joined Her Mystery School as a student. She met me in my aloneness, in the intimacy of my own very difficult and private relationship to what was actually alive in me. If I had to name one of the great gifts given through this whole experience, it’s that I had the supremely rare journey of being returned to intimacy with my own soul, to my incorruptible feminine current, by my own voice, speaking true mercies to me that I didn’t even remember ever saying.
This is not a marketing plug for my “spirit based business.” This is me saying I’ve poured everything good and true I’ve ever been graced to receive into this school, and I will continue to do so. I’m not going anywhere and neither is She. It’s on a sliding scale donation basis because I will never gentrify this work. Ever. It’s now or never, all hands on deck if we are to find the mercy of life’s intimate beauty while the world all around us becomes increasingly bewildered by its own transformation. I want all of you who are called with me and beside me, and the bullshit of socio-economic distortions has no place here. Her Mystery School is a ministry, with the greater intention of raising a donation based temple where trustworthy priestesses can continue to offer the soul sanctuary they’ve offered for millennia.
Please don’t ask me what happened last year. This is Facebook. It’s a rarity for me to share anything that is this personal here anyway. I survived, I will continue to recover, I am still very held. But I guess this is what happens at 4 in the morning when my cat wakes me up with a poor little squeaky mouse offering (don’t worry I saved him) and I read Alex King-Harris gorgeous sober writing about death and my heart gets moving. I just want you to know that I’m with you and that Her Mystery School is here for you if you want to take shelter and draw strength from Her. We are five pillars strong now - Deonesea La Fey, Jamila Suzanne, Jasmine Patten, Cynthia Sophia and myself, - and there are women of heart woven in all over the world, some of them entering their third year with the school.
So, that’s my Her Mystery School testimonial. The teachings, the practices, and the women restored me to life and kept me anchored when I had lost all sense of myself, all peace, all orientation to anything familiar. I love Her.