Spiralled Edges – Between Life and Death
Lately, I’ve been watching our fish swimming in their aquarium a lot. We have platies, which are live-bearers, and apparently they are rather prolific reproducers. So, in the past few weeks we have had a lot of babies being born.
There is all sorts of advice to be found on the benefits of removing the fry, or leaving them in the tank to fend for themselves. I opted to leave them in the main tank, making sure that they have plenty of hiding places.
While some may survive, I know that the majority of babies will at some point be eaten by the larger fish. Such is the way of the fish world. Bigger fish eat smaller fish, some will live but most will die.
It seems a funny thing to be thinking about death so soon after Imbolc with all of the early signs of Spring popping up in the world around me. Birth and death are so very closely twined together though. Each is a stage of transition, and each brings with it great changes.
As a witch and as a healer I have worked a lot with people preparing to make their transition at the end of their life, and I am undergoing training to become a Soul Midwife here in the UK. In my role as a death midwife I try to support and serve those who are transitioning from life to death.
The History of Soul Midwifery
Nearly every culture throughout history has its traditions when it comes to dying. The work that a Soul Midwife does has its origins going back thousands of years through history and across different world cultures.
It has only been within the past few generations that death has become something apart, something medical which happens alone in sterile hospital rooms rather than at home surrounded by loved ones.
The Soul Midwife today incorporates this multitude of tradition in her work. She is able to call upon wisdom and strength generated across the ages. She stands at the threshold between the living and the dead and through her actions and words guides Souls on their journey across the void.
She may be asked to bless or anoint a dying person with sacred oils, as the Egyptians and Sumerians did. She may spend time washing their hands and feet as ancients (and modern) Jews did, bringing comfort and spiritual cleansing them.
The Soul Midwife may sit vigil at a bedside as the Celts taught, maintaining a realm of sacredness around the person and standing between that person and whatever fears they may face during this time.
She may be called upon to help with Soul Healing, as shamanic healers did in cultures past and present through Soul Retrieval work, or through the use of sounds and toning.
Some Soul Midwives may do psychopomp work in which they work within the Other World to escort Souls through into the realm of the Dead.
Above all else though, the Soul Midwife stands at the edge between living and dying, accompanying the dying on this final journey.
If you would like more information on this subject, I highly recommend:
“Singing the Soul Back Home” by Caitlin Matthews.
“A Safe Journey Home” by Felicity Warner