Gifts for a Long Journey

The healing process, for both clients and practitioners, is usually about life and health. Continued illness and death are seen as failures and dead ends, something we don't like to face or acknowledge. There's something mysterious and final about death that mocks all our upbeat notions of health. And for all our many religious and spiritual ideas about the fate of the soul after leaving the body, the fact is nobody really knows what happens to this soul when the body stops working. I personally believe death is not the end of the journey, and that much healing and soul growth is possible (and necessary) after leaving the physical plane. But I'll also admit I could be just as mistaken as the next person.

My latest encounter with death occurred on February 5th. While driving on the freeway, I was suddenly overcome by intense emotions of danger and mortality that were very foreign to my usual state of mind. As I found out later, that was the exact moment my father suffered a heart attack 100 miles away and quickly died. Apparently, on the subtle energy level that I routinely use to sense the problems of living clients, I was in tune with my dad as his life came to an end. During the sleepless night that followed "the phone call", I pondered what I could do to make this a good death, for my dad, for myself and for my family. It's common in many cultures to bury shamanic gifts with the deceased, to help them on their soul's journey. What could I give to help my dad at this important turning point in the cycle of life and death?

As a flower essence consultant, the most personal gifts I could imagine were a couple of remedies to help a soul in transition. The first small bottle was a remedy I call Chakra Cocktail, a combination of vibrations to enliven the entire chakra system in a person. I felt that it would remind his energy body of the important work ahead as he left the physical body behind. The other bottle was a mixture of flower essences in a very special water base.

My father was an extremely loving and giving person -- it's ironic that it was his heart that finally gave out. Some "mythic voice" within me says his ailing physical heart could no longer sustain that level of love without breaking. Two of the flower essences in his mixture are for healing the heart energies. Lily of the Valley is my all time favorite remedy for helping the loving heart energies break through the barriers and restrictions we all put around the heart during our lives. Bleeding Heart is for the sufferings we all go through in times of separation. What greater separation than death, when all attachments to everything one holds dear are broken? Since my dad died of a broken heart, so to speak, this was where his healing should start.

I also included Lady's Slipper and Lotus. One of the themes of Lady's Slipper is the recognition of one's spiritual authority and power. It's said that the immediate after-life state can be very frightening and disorienting. A soul needs to draw on all its strength and learning from this life to maintain the clarity of awareness and feeling needed to handle these challenges. And Lotus is a remedy that seems to integrate all the spiritual energies in a person, helping them realize their true spiritual potential.

The final essences deal with dying itself. Forget-me-not is often used to enhance the spiritual link between the living and the dead, a reminder that death is but a veil, not a permanent separation. It's usually taken by the living, to maintain a contact with the ancestors, but I believe it's helpful for the deceased as well. Our love, prayers and support for the deceased are meaningless if the dead cannot feel them. And Chrysanthemum is for the fear of death itself. Hopefully, his passage was not that frightening, but I did not want fear and terror distracting my father on his journey. In one of those curious twists of fate, the chrysanthemums growing in my backyard came from my dad's garden some years ago.

The water base for these six essences was not your usual spring water and brandy. He died five days after a powerful lunar eclipse, a significator of potent transformations in astrology. The chart for that eclipse mirrored my dad's birthchart to an uncanny degree. At some level, my dad's soul recognized his earth-journey was at an end. The water I used contained the energies of this eclipse to help him make the transition.

I slipped these two bottles into my dad's pocket as his body lay in his coffin and whispered teachings into his ear that would probably have sounded strange to his Lutheran upbringing. Foremost among these was to not be afraid and remember who he truly is in the Spirit. Such teachings are as important for the living as they are for the dying.