The Life Tree

There is a Tree of Life but is there a Tree of Death I wonder… or is it the same tree? Trees don’t know death, because they understand Life. If you understand Life the concept of death is contained within it. This Saturn-Pluto conjunction is bringing so many transformations and one of them I hope to see is an evolved understanding of what death is. I find that if you come at something as big as death from the front there’s too much emotion and grief to enter the notion of it, but through a metaphor or story, we can understand a concept as difficult as death via a simpler comparison.

Picture a tree. A big tree. Now see a young branch forming, it’s still green and vulnerable but it grows from an older branch which has become woody with age. The goal of the tree is to raise it’s branches up higher so it can reach the sunlight, the woody branch holds the tender young shoot higher so it can absorb the sun’s rays. Over time the older branch may wither and seem lifeless, but the younger branch is now becoming woody and strong and it continues to reach for the light as it too sprouts younger branches. Eventually the older branch no longer sprouts, it no longer grows, but before it faded its life force was absorbed into the younger branches and into the whole tree itself. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is left behind. Sometimes a branch may fall to the ground but this is just the shell of the branch, all the energy and ‘beingness’ of the branch were taken in by the wholeness of the tree before it fell, and now the fallen branch continues to support the tree as food and nourishment. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is left behind. The tree is constantly moving, the younger branches feel the grief as the distance of time and space between them and their parent branch, but they must keep moving and growing – it’s the law of Life, everything is in motion. But they are always carrying the energy of the older branches, the ones that went before. Their life force is moving through the whole tree, their energy, their Light, is circulating and sustaining the tree, nothing is wasted. Nothing is left behind.

I have grieved for my Father, my Mother, my brother, and my nephew. While each loss felt different, I knew each to be like an energetic amputation that left me changed. It feels like you are smaller, sometimes my edges were jagged, sometimes they were soft and porous. Sometimes my body would feel unreal to me, lighter, nebulous, sometimes it would feel heavy, burdensome. At times I needed connection, at other times I’d withdraw. These are all reactions to physical loss, the world felt ‘less’ to me and this was me working out the new and different world that I inhabited. It’s like you’ve lost your senses – literally – and you can’t perceive your surroundings in the same way anymore, so your mind is frantically bouncing around trying to make sense of something it can’t comprehend.

Time (Saturn) is a great healer – cliché perhaps, but Truth. Death (Pluto) is a not a mistake, it should be talked about and our perceptions of it transformed (Pluto). Grief is natural, it’s a human process that is different for everyone and each person must travel its twists and turns in their own way. If you are with someone who is grieving, just know that you don’t have to ‘fix’ them, they will heal themselves, but you can create room for them to feel safe to grieve. Hold space for them, this is the greatest and most caring thing you can do. Acknowledge their grief, don’t ignore it, they need to know that although they may not want to connect right now, that they are seen.

“I encourage you to make peace with death, to see it as the culminating event of this adventure called life. Death is not an error; it is not a failure… it is like taking off a tight shoe. Confucius says, ‘Those that find the Way in the morning can gladly die in the evening.’”

~ Ram Dass

If you know someone who is preparing to die, it is much the same. Hold space for them. You may see them come to a place where they accept death, don’t see this as ‘giving up’ for it is not your experience it is theirs and they are healing themselves through a process of their own grief – sometimes ‘healing’ does not refer to the physical body. Respect their right to let go of their body and know that they are in a position to see from a perspective that you have not held before. To be in the presence of one who is dying is incredibly humbling and can be life changing. I was blessed and honoured to hold space for my Mother when she left her body and, in that moment, I saw a lifetime lived in a second, I witnessed her death and her birth, and it happened simultaneously. I realised then that the birth-death-birth cycle was the same. We are born, we contain our Soul through life, then in death our Soul is born. At both moments of birth there is struggle, perhaps pain, perhaps a resistance to leave the comfort and warmth of the womb or body, but birth is inescapable, the cycle must continue.

Nothing is wasted. Nothing is left behind.

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