Warning: this is going to be a long one! There is no short way to describe or explain being visited upon by Death and seeing one’s own calling in His face.
This morning over breakfast with one of my spiritual warrior goddess friends, she posed the following challenge:
CLAIM IT. CLAIM WHO YOU ARE!
We had been talking about the Magdalene and my calling as not only a Magdalene priestess, but of BEING the Magdalene. What she did not know is that I had only minutes ago come out of a shamanic journey where I was reminded of a calling even deeper than that of the Magdalene (actually, the Magdalene calling encompasses this). For lack of a better word, I am invited to embrace my calling as a:
This, however, is more of a calling. It is more of an embodiment and one that has haunted/beckoned to me my entire life. It began with my harrowing birth and the “failure to thrive” which followed and all the other “mysterious” ailments that have accompanied my life (the First People rightly call Sacramento “The Valley of Death”).
Then when I was somewhere around 5 or 6 years old I had a dream of end of the world – one which has set the tone and the course of my life path. In the dream I asked how we could prevent the world from ending. I was given a specific task which I have been diligently tending to my entire adult life.
In this adult life, an obvious pattern has emerged. In EVERY SINGLE work environment/situation, I have shown up minutes (in Divine time) before the whole place starts to fall apart. I’m most certainly not the one causing the “death,” but I’m always the one who sees the writing on the wall, who tries to warn those involved and who attempts to give them the tools to prevent their own death. Not once have the institutions involved accepted my recommendations and in every single case, they have died a fiery death.
While I am no longer in an institutional setting, the trend continues. In my local community, I see the institutions who are in trouble, I have attempted to share my insights and wisdom, and in every case they have been refused. It saddens me deeply to know the inevitable outcomes and I grieve every time I see one of these institutions making choices that will only hasten their death.
I also know that these deaths are necessary. Hierarchical/Patriachal institutions based in fear, power and control have destroyed our world and continue to do so. It is time for them to die.
But still I grieve. I grieve for those who will be negatively impacted by the deaths. I mourn for those who may literally die because of the irresponsible actions of the power structures and for their loved ones who will be left behind. I also grieve for our loss of innocence as a culture and as a world. While many worry the pandemic of the Coronavirus, their greater concern should be the global financial collapse that is soon to follow – if certain measures of reform are not immediately embraced…
But there I go again, trying to prevent death.
Death is inevitable. Everything and everyone has a natural life cycle and we live in a world where death is no longer natural, but man-made. Humanity has created its own death. How insane and tragic is that!?
So as my friend is encouraging me to OWN THE MAGDALENE, a deeper voice within me is screaming at me to OWN DEATH!
Death as my calling. Death as my Beloved. Death as why I am here and what I came here to do. Not to bring about death, but to be witness to humanity is its relentless march to its own destruction, and after the death, to support the world in finding new life.
In the journey I completed before meeting my friend for breakfast, this is what I saw:
Myself and my Beloved, standing at the ocean entrance to a cave set within a rocky shore. Behind us in the world above was the dying world, aflame in its self-destruction. We stood safe within our cave gazing out over the crashing waves as the light of a new dawn was breaking on the horizon. Standing at the threshold between death and new life, confident and at peace in the knowledge that it is only in dying to the old that new life might come forth.
So with this, I accept and acknowledge Death as my calling.
The deepest, most exquisite part of my gift to the world is my ability to work in and with the shadows – the pain, sorrows, traumas, fears and other areas of woundedness we try to hide from the world and from ourselves. In order to do this work with and for others, I first have to do it for myself. As life continues to remind me, our shadow work is never done. Even when we think we have sufficiently grieved a loss, healed a trauma, released a pain, there are remnants of it that will remain, waiting to surface again (most often when we least expect it) for another layer of healing.
Yesterday, I found myself in that place. An innocent article appeared on Facebook, an article I had seen a million other times, about Reiki being offered in hospitals. I don’t know why yesterday was different from any other day, but I read the headline of that article and I LOST IT! Are you kidding me? Reiki in hospitals? Knowing that at least half of the hospitals in the United States are run by the Catholic Church, I found myself enraged. Not because Reiki might now be available in Catholic hospitals (hurray) but because of the local self-appointed inquisition, the local Church and the local bishop and his cronies who made my life a living hell all because of Reiki. In my rage (grief) I posted on FB, “If Reiki is being offered in Catholic hospitals too, there are several bishops and members of the local self-appointed inquisition who owe me an apology and maybe some financial consideration for the hell they put me through!” And I meant it! Those duckers made my life a living hell and the PTSD I now bear is partly because of the soul wrenching pain I experienced due to their ministrations and constant harassment. The result of my “run in” with the Church was my leaving and wondering if karma was ever going to have its way with those ducking duckers. The truth I came to yesterday is “not likely.” “They” will go on living in their self-righteous, fundamentalist interpretation of Catholic teaching, making themselves and the people around them miserable with their constant scrutiny, while I am walking around free.
……and……there it is. I’m free. I am free of the outside perceived authority of the Church and the laws that men created to strike fear in the hearts of human beings so they could be manipulated and controlled. Fear of hellfire and damnation no longer plague my life. I no longer fear a jealous or angry “god.” I am no longer looking over my shoulder wondering if I am adequately upholding Catholic teaching so that my entrance into heaven might be assured. I am no longer running from the “snares of the devil” as “Satan” and I have become friends. (for more on why Satan isn’t who “he” was made out to be read HERE). And finally, I no longer fear death. When my time comes, I will greet Death as a welcome friend. I no longer fear death because when we free ourselves from the illusion of hell and the threat of eternal punishment, in death there is nothing to fear. This has been my “reward” for staying true to the Divine calling of my Soul, while those who continue to threaten and harass are imprisoned by their fear.
I share this story as an example of WHY I do what I do and WHY it is imperative that we meet our shadows face to face. Our shadows surface, not to haunt us or cause us pain, but to lead us to freedom. Every time our shadows come out to play, when we meet them (instead of running from them) and when we allow ourselves every single emotion and thought that accompanies them (ie: “duck those ducking duckers”) we find our way to freedom and release. It is only in being present to our pain that we can find its release. It is only in being present to our wounds and facing the tragedies of our past that we can be freed to walk the path of our truth.
If you are looking for assistance in navigating the path of your shadows, I am available for one-on-one mentoring and there are several course offerings which support the journey through the shadows.
There is a popular theme in classical art which depicts Mary Magdalene holding or gazing at a skull. I have never really understood this image. If Jesus was truly raised from the death, then the skull cannot be his. If it’s not Jesus’ skull, then whose is it? Is the former owner of the skull even relevant or is the presence of the skull merely symbolic? Why was this a popular theme among classical artists and why does it not persist today?
For years I have pondered the meaning of these paintings. What is up with Mary Magdalene and the skull? After the events of this past week and the spiritual experiences I have borne related to these events, now I get it.
The Events of the Week:
This week, Oshkosh experienced its first school shooting. A hurting and troubled teen attacked the school’s Resource (police) Officer with a knife. In the struggle the officer’s gun was discharged, injuring the officer. The gun was discharged a second time and the student was also shot. Following active shooter protocol, the school was evacuated while the offer and student were tended to. Fortunately, both the officer and the student survived and are recovering from their wounds (if you can ever really recover from such a traumatic event). The students, staff, their families, and the entire community are now grieving, trying to make sense of the trauma and (hopefully) examining what can be done (if anything) to prevent future incidents.
These kinds of incidents place us in the position of feeling helpless, confused and lost. First, we suffer shock. Then after the shock wears off, we grieve. For some, the grief comes out as anger. For others disbelief (denial). Others try to come up with all the things that could have/should have been done to prevent the tragedy (bargaining). There are those who do not know what to do with the energy of their grief, so they find ways to stay busy (creating distractions). Finally, there are those who will recognize the deep loss that comes in tragedies such as these and they cry. They weep for the loss of innocence. They weep for the hurting child and their family. They cry for the students and parents who were terrified. They wail over their own fear and the feeling of helplessness that arrives in the stark truth that we cannot always protect our children and over the brokenness of our world that drives a child to want to fatally harm another human being(s).
How it Unfolded Within Me:
As unofficial Pastor of Oshkosh, acknowledged empath, and ordained Priestess of the Magdalene, this is what unfolded in me relating to the above events and why I now understand the imagery of the Magdalene with the skull.
On Sunday, December 1st – two days before the incident at Oshkosh West High School, I got hit by an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. I immediately knew the anxiety was not mine, but it was powerful enough that I took a Lorazepam to stave off the impending panic attack. Then I checked in with my empath friends and Magdalene sisters. They were all in agreement – they too had been hit by powerful anxiety accompanied by overwhelming grief. We all wondered what was happening or soon to happen in the world that we were feeling it this hard. We had no idea that the anxiety and griefr we were feeling was the preview of what would soon be happening in our own backyard.
The news of the event came out via social media as parents and students began informing the community of what was happening. Without knowing who or how, I immediately “saw” an image of the officer and the boy. I knew who the officer was (without knowing) and I knew the boy was white. I then simultaneously went into prayer/empath mode while reaching out to leaders I know in the community to gain information beyond social media reactions.
While praying, holding and processing the energy of the trauma through my body (as empaths do), I was also fielding phone calls, text messages, etc. from parents and friends who were somehow involved in the incident. Listening. Holding Space. Offering counsel and comfort. As an empath/unofficial pastor, I was being called upon to be with them in their fear, confusion, and grief.
Another day in the life of an empath.
After two days of processing with others, the heavy hand of grief fell upon me. Once again, however, this was not my grief. Yes, I grieve for those involved and for our community, but what I was experiencing was a grief disproportionate to even that which our community was feeling. With this also came wave after wave after wave of compassion for the hurting boy and his family and for all the children in our world who are hurting and either not getting the help they need, or who are simply overwhelmed by the current state of our world. (To our children, the world out there really sucks and they often feel there is little to hope for. To understand this more, please read HERE and HERE). When the hand of grief came, I set aside the day for prayer and to sending healing (Reiki) to our fragile and broken world.
This brings me to Thursday. (only two days after the incident). Thursday brought the presence of Death. “He” came to me upon waking from a restless sleep and has remained with me since. This is not the first time Death has come to me, and I have been told that “He” is here to stay. Death, it seems, is to remain my companion (in fact He’s been here all along) and as “He” explained, “He” is what I have been seeking after all along.
For those new to the language and mystery of death, let me explain. I’m not suicidal. Neither am I wishing or praying for death, or even having fantasies as such. Instead, I have experienced the profound awareness that Death has always been with me and something I do not fear. Of course, I would hate for my children to preceded me in death (God forbid!). Yes, my body reacts to life-threatening experiences with fight, flight and/or flee. Absolutely have I grieved those I have “lost” to death. But the fact remains, I have never shied away from nor fled death. Instead, I have been fully present to it in whatever form it has taken in my life – and it has taken many forms. From the death of every single institution in which I have worked (the deaths strangely beginning to unfold shortly after my arrival), to the death of the university from which I earned my master’s degree, to the death of a marriage, the death of my Church and my relationship with my church, the death of friendships, the death of dear friends who were taken from life much too soon, to innumerable endings (deaths) that have occurred in my life. The death of dreams. The death of hopes. The death of what I once thought my life would be. For as long as I can remember, Death has been my companion and dare I say, “my friend.”
To those who might experience fear in the face of these statements, here’s the thing: DEATH IS A PART OF LIFE. In fact, it is out of Darkness that life comes into form and it is Darkness/Death to which we return. We cannot have life without death – either literally or metaphorically. As such, it behooves us to get comfortable with death. As our world becomes increasingly divisive and continues in its race toward death, we best make friends with death SOON!
But not everyone is comfortable with Death, neither is everyone called to be a Priestess of Death. Priest/ess of Death is a unique calling. Priestess of Death is a calling that requires discipline, persistence, tenacity, immeasurable courage and the ability to stand toe to toe and face to face with that which humanity fears the most. As a Priestess of Death, we must be willing to DIVE DEEP – first into our own wounds, past traumas and fears and do the really challenging work of transforming these wounds so that our TRUE BEING might emerge. THEN (concurrently) we have to be willing to Dive into the Darkness around us – being witness to that which is made out of fear, holding and accompanying others in their pain, being the vessel through which the pain and untruths of our world are processed and released for those unable or unwilling to do it for themselves.
It is this final piece that best describes the work of the Priestesses of Death. We are here to bear witness to everything in our world which has been swept under the rug, every lie that has been told, every loss that has not been grieved, every fear that remains, and every trauma that humanity is unable to clear themselves. Bearing witness, however, is simply not enough. Our most challenging task is to hold that pain in our bodies and allow it to move through us as it seeks its own healing and release. If you are a Priestess of Death – you know about which I speak.
This is the meaning of the Magdalene with the skull. Unlike the other disciples of Jesus, Mary Magdalene embodied the ability to not only be with Death but to hold the space and process the pain and trauma of death that others are not able to do for themselves. As Priestess of Death, Mary Magdalene did even more than this. She held space with and for Jesus as he journeyed toward his death and in being with him there, she became Co-Redemptrix – transforming through her own body humanity’s fear. After Jesus’ death, Mary continued this work and through the Magdalene succession, this work continues through those equally gifted and called to be Priest/esses of Death.
For the past number of years, we have been experiencing the great awakening of human consciousness. This awakening has been given many names and equally as many faces. Some call it the “New Age Movement” (for the record, there is nothing “New” about New Age. It is simply a rediscovery and reclaiming of what Mystics and Prophets have known all along). Others call it Ascension. Still others call it enlightenment. I’m sure there are other names, but we’ll leave it at that. While there have been many positive aspects to this awakening, there is one ENORMOUS DANGER and pitfall which very few acknowledge and even more fall into:
Ascension is NOT the path to our wholeness. Ascension is not the goal. Ascension is not the final outcome. In fact, our human journey toward wholeness – where we are one with our Divine and Human selves – is not complete until we have moved past ascension and are willing to descend into the depths of our own, as well as the world’s darkness. Descending is the profoundly challenging (and yet deeply liberating and rewarding) part of our journey toward wholeness where we come face to face with:
After we ascend and discover the ecstasy of our Union with the Divine (our higher and truest self), we have to bring that Union into embodiment. The only way to embody our true and Divine Self is to let it come through us, bringing us face to face with all of who and what we are that is not in alignment with Love. This is the work of the Shadow Worker and where our true gifts come to light.
For support with your shadow work, read my book, Authentic Freedom. Available HERE.
The truth about Descending is that we cannot “LaLa” the darkness away. Neither can we avoid it by escaping into reverie. We don’t change things by thinking the right thoughts, raising our vibration, eating “more highly vibrational foods,” or through thoughts and prayers. We have to do the messy, dirty, sometimes terrifying work of turning away from the light and toward the darkness. This is the DEEP DIVE that has nothing to do with “Dark Night of the Soul” and everything to do with the BIRTH of our Soul. Here, the fragmented and broken parts of our humanness are acknowledged, transformed, and then released so that only Love remains. I will make no bones about this part: the LOVE that we are is not some glittery, flowy, rainbow filled unicorn of light. This is the LOVE that can withstand all that we are, all the world is, and everything life will hand us, without turning tail and running away. This is the Love made up of fierce courage. It is the Love of Mother Kali who cuts away all that is not supportive of our mission and purpose on this plane. On a collective level, it is the Love of the Destroyer that burns down whatever stands in the way of our human evolution – even the Brazilian Rainforest if that is what it takes to
WAKE US UP
But again, here is the trick: We do not arrive at our wholeness through “love and light.” We get there by burning the f’cker down. And the work starts and ends with ourselves!
If we are not willing to do the challenging work of facing and being with our darkness and our greatest fears, then we cannot be a source of Love and support for our dying world. If we do not do this critically important work, choosing instead to escape into Ascension, then we will suffer the consequences.
While Ascending past the illusion of separation and finding our Union with Self is an important first step, avoiding the Descent will paralyze us with this one critical truth:
What we resist will persist!
As a friend of mine once observed, “God is a nag!” I would translate that by saying that our True Self, our Soul is a heartless bitch! She will hound us until our work is done. The harder we work against Her, the more vicious She becomes. Choosing only Ascension, imprisons us in our darkness which then comes out sideways in:
Passive Aggressive and .Bullying Behaviors.
And the king of all demons: DENIAL.
When we are stuck in ascension, we are blind to our darkness (oh, we might see it, but we will do everything we can to “La La” it away). We pretend it isn’t there. We avoid anything that might have to do with death, disappointment, failure or inner conflict. We pretend we know ourselves, when we really do not. Our unhealed wounds come out sideways as we spin round and round in the drain of our inability to be completely and wholly accountable to and responsible for ourselves.
The journey if descent is excruciating, but staying in ascension is even worse! How would you like to spend an eternity in the game of pretend? Pretty soon you can no longer remember the lies you have told yourself to stay in the light as your darkness overtakes you.
Here’s the really funny thing about this truth……Jesus knew it, and so did the Kabbalists who were likely his teachers.
Above is an excerpt from my Authentic Freedom Weekly Lesson. To subscribe and receive the full lesson click HERE.
In the current state of our world this sharing my come as no surprise. In writing a deeply, intimate piece about love, I came to the realization that my greatest fear may in fact be humanity’s greatest fear. With all the needless violence and death in our world, it seems death is not what we fear. Instead, it is love.
My Greatest Fear is Love
This morning I awoke to the grim realization that I’m afraid of love.
I’m not afraid to die.
In fact, when the time comes, I will welcome death’s reprieve.
Instead, I’m afraid to love.
At one time I did love – truly, madly, deeply.
I gave everything I had for love.
In countless measure I gave for love.
I believed in love.
I hoped for love.
I forgave for love.
I fought for love.
And by love I was betrayed.
My body. My Soul. My Spirit –
Torn into a thousand pieces
Then placed on the pyre to be burned.
After love had its way with me,
There was nothing left of Me.
Nothing but the me that arose in defense:
“I’ll show them!”
Then life showed me.
Until again, there was none of me left.
Exactly as it was meant to be?
Ordained by my Soul?
A personality built, torn down, built up again…
Only to once again be destroyed.
Brought down to nothing.
What the Kabbalists call “Ain-Sof”
Returned to the primordial Void.
Where there lives nothing but potential.
Pure and Infinite Potential.
That which remains after the Angel of Death has had his way:
And what can stand in the stark, dark reality of Truth?
After death is the promise of new life. This is the Easter message and the law that nature teaches us over and over and over again. A seed it planted. It germinates and grows. It matures and bears fruit. It dies, returning to the earth where it plants the seeds for the next life to begin.
So is the true of our human experience. Even our cells are continually involved in this eternal journey of birthing, growing, maturing, dying, and then being born again.
But this dying and rising is not limited to the growth of our cells. This is the eternal dance of our human experience – if we have the courage to surrender to the journey – especially when it all looks like death. Like it felt for me on Monday. Facing the end of our dreams, is one of those moments that feels like death. For me, this death was palpable. I felt like death. I felt the weight of death. I felt as if my body had become my own tomb made out of lead.
Then yesterday I woke up to the dawn of a new day. Rather, I woke up to the void – the place within the tomb where the life that once was lay in repose. It was an apt position for the final session of a 5 year journey (for some, longer for others) I had been facilitating – learning as I go. This was the final session of the Order of Melchizedektraining that I have been piloting locally before making it wholly available online. In this portion of the training we had been studying the Aleph Beis and its connection to the major arcana in the Tarot. Yesterday’s lesson (the final lesson) was on the Hebrew letter “Tav” and The World card in the tarot. You will have to take the class to understand how these two seemingly opposing systems are connected, but as a way to bring the course to a close, I facilitated a shamanic journey for those in attendance, while joining them in my own journey.
In my journey, I was led to every journey I had done before. I was brought to every location, every person, every being, every animal, etc. and in each scene, that which appeared to be outside of me was absorbed into me. All perceived division was absorbed into and became part of me. This absorption continued and continued and continued, until I saw that I had become a black hole. I was the black hole and I was in the black hole, drawing in and absorbing every single aspect of the life I have lived so far. It was all drawn inward toward the center of the black hole – a center that doesn’t really exist. The energies of my whole life were being drawn in and compressed – compressed to the point of nothingness and everything. The depths of the void filled with unlimited potential. All that has been was being compressed, transformed and was becoming “fuel” for the life of the black hole. What I then came to understand is that everything was being compressed – the old life was coming to an end, and was being used as fuel/compost for the new life/new world/new universe that will burst forth out of the other side of the black hole once maximum compression was reached.
Today I sit in the black hole. Nothing more to do. Nothing more to be. This world I have known is done. Complete. I am whole. I sit in the void as the new life is being born in secret. I will know it when it arrives. Until that time. I simply am – Lauri.