Honoring Tahlequah's process and giving thanks for the powerful medicine her grief sojourn has become. This past Saturday, August 11 the world learned that, after 17 days of holding vigil and carrying her baby over 1000 miles across the ocean, Tahlequah released her beloved and let the her baby's body fall to the sea floor.
And, just as Tahlequah's family rallied and held space for her process, community gathered around my partner and I this past August 11 in our backyard oasis created in honor of our first born sun Kali Ra. In this sacred and protected space my partner and I welcomed old friends and new faces. Side by side we facilitated ceremony and celebrated the spirit of our beloved Kali Ra. Kali would have been 2 years old August 11.
With Kali's navigation and assistance I have stepped back into my soul work as transition priestess. The greatest of tragedies has itself rebirthed me with renewed purpose and vision. I am passionate about this reclamation, working hard to make family directed funerals, home funerals and the transformative experience of "after death vigiling" more accessible to families in New York State.
Unbeknownst to many, NYS has some of the most oppressive funeral laws in the country. We are one of only a handful of states that by law require that a "licensed funeral director" be contracted to "supervise" all after death care, transport and disposition of the deceased. Accessing alternatives to the funeral industry's often impersonal and hollowed out services is a serious challenge in NYS.
It's not the most reasonable expectation to imagine that funeral directors, whose business it is to sell expensive coffins and perform unnecessary, invasive, environmentally problematic embalming procedures, will be the very same ones to voluntarily "supervise" persons like myself as I facilitate *family-directed*, chemical-free after death care, decorating of handmade coffins and green burial/disposition... If I held my breath waiting for that miracle I'd be writing this piece from a much more interesting perspective.
Not suprisingly, NYS funeral laws are written to protect the big business of funeral industry. The community (understood as the "funeral consumer") often suffers the devastating consequences of parasitic capitalism and profiteering, victim to funeral firms which literally feed off our dead and the vulnerability of the bereft. This paradigm will no longer be accepted. We rise together to take back this sacred work and return to our rightful station at the threshold.
When my own sun Kali Ra transitioned back into the arms of our ancestors at just four days old, he was wheeled away and into the refrigeration unit of the hospital morgue, where his body lay alone. My partner and I were ushered upstairs with empty arms to my hospital room. I didn't know my rights or my options 2 years ago. I grieve not having taken the opportunity to hold my baby's precious body and spending even just one night with him in my arms.
The experience of perinatal demise in my life continues to be a fierce initiation and catalyst for remembrance and reclamation of the sacred. I endeavor to allow this heart break to be the fuel that drives me and to let these tears clear a path of service to others navigating transition ♡
As I always say, "Momma knows what Momma needs." Tahlequah showed us what her grief process looked like. Her family demonstrated what it means to hold space. As a community we have forgotten how to do this for one another. Let us embrace the wisdom keepers and welcome the return of this knowledge.
IT IS OUR DUTY to remember how to hold sacred grief space as a commUNITY. My intention for this powerful new moon/solar eclipse is that my two legged family open to the grief medicine mother Tahlequah has shared.
☆♡ JAI MA!! ♡☆
The following discusses the death of a baby. My beloved sun Kali Ra Iman. When you re-read the title of this piece, your knee jerk reaction may be one of disbelief and contempt for the statement "I will be not grieve for you." How could a mother not grieve the death of her firstborn son?! Deep breath, friends. Here we go...Read More
My heart is broken open for every mother denied the opportunity to move through her grief with intuition as her compass. After enduring the death of a child the very last thing a family needs is for the sacred time of caring for their dead to be stripped from them as well… [O]ur society has forgotten how to hold space for a mother's grief. Instead we have become proficient at dictating the parameters of her experience.Read More
Most traditionally trained doulas accept the confines of the old paradigm "scope" that spares no expense in driving home the importance of “non-advocacy.” Yet, Rigidity in birthwork is as useful as coffin nails, and often with the very same effect. The pelvic girdle knows this truth well-- Seemingly concrete in composition, it is by nature designed to give and make way for burgeoning mystery.Read More
Tragedy is life’s proposal to honor our union with her “for better or worse.” Our broken heart is an invitation to say "YES" to life on her terms, independent of our desire for how she ought to be. By honoring her darkness and depth we choose to dance with life, no matter how risqué the cut of her gown.Read More
My vision for this project is firmly rooted in the knowledge that truth telling is the fiercest and most potent medicine-- A medicine that the sacred Mother urges us to release to the world at this time. I aspire to gather our sacred stories of trauma and transformation and assemble them as a collection, with intent to eventually offer the medicine within as a paperback bolus injection of fierce truth, administered to a world crying out for the nourishment of authenticity.Read More
We must become fluent in the long lost language of solidarity. We must be willing to toil in solitude until the memory of camaraderie returns to our collective. We are in dire need of a refresher course on the import of disobedience and the necessity of disruption. Brick by brick or by devastating blow, we must devour every structure and system of bondage before us and within, paying special attention to the ones we cosigned and helped to erect.Read More
It is in silent contemplation that our soul speaks loudest. We breach our own impenetrable defenses when we begin to doubt our resilience and the unbreakable nature of Spirit. However, when we remain steadfast in honoring our true essence, our power is impervious. Vampires relish at our forgetfulness, and feed on the fear that seeps from the cracks it creates.Read More
Patriarchy is a shapeshifter, able to manifest in many of the conventional ways-- Through silencing, coercion, spoliation of medical records and outright obstetric violence. However, the patriarchy is insidious and can be extremely cunning. Unbeknownst to us, it silently creeps into the concealed crevices of our splintered sisterhood. To my dismay and sheer terror, I found one of the most secreted and sinister forms of patriarchy indwelling within our beloved natural birth movement.Read More
Letting my darkness light the way, I endeavor to continue on this priestess path with pure intention. I strive to open more and more to the gifts of nature and every emotion that erupts as a result. No matter how "unacceptable" or "insufferable," it is my intention to unlatch my toolbox to allow every experience that appears for reintegration.Read More
Despite losing Kali Ra Iman in the flesh, we continue to hold this faith and know that Kali Ra manifested in our lives to carve and burn out illusion and to illuminate the truth through flames of fierce love. We honor and thank you for these teachings and for the path you have illumined in the wake of your ashes.Read More
Instead of changing diapers, I find myself changing between highlighters and keyboard strokes in an effort to grasp the full extent of malfeasance that transpired before and after the death of my Sun.
I was born for this work and I can feel the spirit of my beloved Kali Ra coursing through my finger tips as I write these words and endeavor to raise awareness so that other families do not have to suffer unnecessarily as mine has.Read More
The conditions that allow for social injustice have always emerged as a result of society’s failure to recognize the rights of individuals or groups. When denial of such rights is tolerated or indeed encouraged, it is bound to fortify the bases for further repression and injustice...Our institutions of learning are the platform from which an entire society is grounded. We must protect the sanctity and safety of these spaces. We must not allow them to become militarized zones where autonomy is muzzled and dissent is stifled.Read More
...I was convinced I had assembled the obstetric dream team. Yet, when complications arose, my bubble didn’t just burst, it was obliterated. I learned the hard way that many Western New York families are at great risk because of some uncomfortable truths and shortfalls in competent care. When providers deny transparency and children are injured because of it, parents are often left with a grim choice—To move on with empty arms and a heart burdened by unanswered questions, or forge forward to get answers and share them with the world.Read More
I invite you to a space that promises never to curb or control the wisdom that speaks through you-- a space that rejoices in uniqueness and encourages us to offer our stories as medicine to the world. Let us open our arms to the mystery and hold one another, despite our differences. Whether illumined by love or torn by tragedy, we are all blessings to the world. These blessings are delivered when we share our medicine and hold another as they do the same.Read More
Every winter I close my shutters and block out so much of the world. If I was a computer, I would be in "sleep mode." I used to pathologize this experience and brand it as "depression," adding to a cacophony of other judgments targeted at all my perceived shortfalls. Yet, I now understand this social hiatus as a necessary hibernation for the soul.Read More
I will never accept or take on as my own the judgments cast by so many in the natural birth community upon those of us who don't fit the natural birth mold. To the contrary of those propagating oversimplified mistruths, this mold is NOT one size fits all. I shudder to think how many families have been crushed when care providers attempt to force mothers and their unborn blessings into spaces and scenarios not meant for them. How many times does that magical mold become a claustrophobic coffin?Read More
Whether it’s a ghost with a blade or the promise of certain physical disintegration, these scare tactics cannot touch our true essence. Illusions of impending catastrophe will try to convince us to abandon the sowing of seeds. They will urge us to remove our hands from fertile soil and trample precious new life as we run to erect unnecessary defenses. We have the capacity to dismiss the illusion of urgency. We can reject the fear and...Read More
There is nothing wrong with imagining different scenarios and working to manifest our preferences for the big day, but birth is inherently untamable. It will always articulate its wildness, whether in the moment we offer ourselves up to the unknown, or decades later in seemingly random bouts of rage and wounded fury. The wildness will always prevail.Read More