Death is Coming
You might have noticed this year, that I’ve only been writing to you about the New Moon and not the Dark.
That’s because I’ve been a little apprehensive of the Dark Moon this year.
And I’ve been trying to trick myself – perhaps I’m not manifesting it if I’m not actively sharing and writing about it?
But it doesn’t work like that, and I recall my words at the beginning of each Empress Crow and Rabbit Lunar Calendar:
“The power of these lunar phases work whether you are consciously making intentions or not, so it makes sense to take care about what you are dreaming up and where you are sending your energy.”
My game is up.
I’ve been conveniently forgetting about the intensity and importance of the Dark Moon when the massive high of the New Moon rushes in, followed by the powerful surge of the Full Moon.
Until the dark comes again.
You know, every month or so.
So here I am again. Wallowing about in the dark. Feeling into what I need to weed out, what I need to burn off, what I need to let go of in my life.
Today it doesn’t feel scary, so I’m going to indulge my inner Grim Reaper and tell you a dark and deathly tale…
It’s a long one, so please go and make yourself a tasty beverage, get comfy, and let’s settle in together.
It was the new crescent moon about three weeks ago, and I was on the train by myself.
Now you already know I adore travelling anywhere by myself. As a fanatical introvert, I cherish the clarity, peace and great solace of my own company, particularly now, post-maindenhood and in the throes of motherhood.
But it wasn’t all meditation and cat-naps on the train – oh no, not at all – I was too terribly excited because dear friends, I was off to an event with the brilliant and inspirational Julie Parker!
When suddenly, my mouth opened and out of nowhere three words popped out.
“Death is coming”
Not my best work, but still, I was curious. Why did the message come then?
Perhaps because I was finally by myself, away from a sticky 3 year old and debilitating To Do Lists, nothing to do except be with the energy of nightfall, the hum of the earth as she makes her descent into night and the rhythm of the train.
Death is coming. Death is coming. Death is coming.
Perhaps the message came because my father is actually dying, and two weeks later my mother would get a phone call late at night from his caregivers to say that he was unresponsive, could she come in?
Perhaps it was because I am frightened of death and had failed the little ringtail possum that had asked me for help.
Rewind another 12 days to the waning moon, a week after Lammas and my daughter was standing at the back door one morning wanting to go outside. I opened the door without looking so I didn’t see what she saw.
I looked down where she was pointing and right by the door, as if she was about to knock on it and sell me a box set of encyclopedias, sat a small ringtail possum.
“She should not be out, she should not be out”, I paraphrased Dr Seuss in my head. “She should not be out while the sun is out!”
I closed the glass door quickly – not wanting my daughter to lunge at the possum for cuddles and receive a face scratch in return.
I crouched down so I was eye level with the possum and with the glass between us, asked her what she needed from me.
Her eyes were glassy. This wasn’t going to be good.
She was asking for help – and not the kind of help I like giving.
Not in my backyard, not with my young daughter here, not while I was avoiding my father’s impending death and my own mortality.
So I did what any good woman in fierce denial would do.
I cut up a precious homegrown peach for her, and carefully opened the door and placed it right in front of her.
She didn’t flinch.
It was only when my daughter started talking excitedly, “Where’s her family? Can we keep her? Can she sleep in my room?” that the possum ran as fast as she could, to hide in a shelf stuffed full of tennis racquets, balls and gardening tools.
All of a metre away.
That was all she could manage but as she turned to run, it was enough for me to see the gaping hole in her side.
I called wildlife services and they asked me to take her to a local vet – providing me instructions on how to pick her up, put her in a cardboard box, cover her eyes. The operator assured me she’d give me no trouble.
And I heard whispered between the lines, “The dying won’t give you any trouble…”
The little possum must have sensed what was going on, because by the time I’d donned gloves and put on shoes and long sleeves, she had come out of her hiding spot and was nibbling at the grapevine on our verandah.
She was mustering all sorts of casual – “Nothing to see here, ma’am. I’m okay. Look, check me out! I’m even eating!”
Except of course, daylight was not the time for possums to be out and birds came out of every tree from blocks around, to scream and dive at her in outrage.
This was not her time. She is of the night you see. The deep dark that is there even if you won’t acknowledge it.
As I reached for her, the overwhelming smell of death assaulted me and at the same time, I saw the gaping, furless hole in her side wriggling and heaving.
Hundreds of small white and yellow wrigglers seared forever in my memory and in her gut – doing the work of Kali, the Goddess of Death.
I stepped back in shock.
Reeling with the smell, the emotion, the life path I saw before me and how ours had crossed on that waning moon.
I saw how badly I wanted to be the heroine in this story. To take her to the vet, to have her nursed back to life, to see her returned to my backyard a few weeks later in good health, to have my ego stroked by the universe that she was oh so grateful for my life-saving actions…
We drove her to the wildlife vet and her merciful death eleven minutes later.
Later that day, I parked my ego and tried to find the shamanic meaning of all of this. Because I knew it was no accident, no coincidence that Little Possum had chosen me.
I knew she knew I was the guardian of this land after my 4 days and 3 nights questing in my backyard, and that I would help her.
I also knew it was a message about my dad and yes, death was coming. Prepare your heart Empress, your father is not long of this world – this time your tears will surely come.
But both these meanings felt very heady – very in my head and not truly in my heart.
I felt like I was missing something.
So I googled the shamanic meaning of Possum as a totem or power animal. And that’s when I received my final meaning.
I learnt that a possum can actually fake death – when fear is too much, they lapse into a coma like state, throw off a terrible stench, and convince their aggressors to retreat.
I learnt too where I had been stepping wrong… all year.
“When Possum shows up, ask yourself if you’re taking the right road for your goals or if you’ve wandered off track. If the latter, Possum may just say, ‘lie still and play dead’. Use that time to think of alternatives and truly assess the hidden matters of your circumstances.”
And don’t you just know it, GUESS which Empress had wandered off track, played small and had not been living her most authentic life?
It’s a bit embarrassing actually, but I have to share it with you to get it out in the world. Let go of my perfectionism, let it go, let it go.
The previous week, I had applied for a job that wasn’t right. Three days after receiving the relief-giving rejection letter, dear Little Possum had visited.
She was telling me that it was okay to pause, to play dead, to think about my next steps.
That all would be well.
So GUESS what happened when I went to Julie Parker’s event 12 days later, hours after my ‘Death is Coming’ epiphany on the train?
I discovered an incredible doorway into a new way of being, a life-path that I have toyed with for five years, but have never thought I was good enough to become. (More on that later in the year…)
Meanwhile, I came to realise how truly blessed I was, when I let my fears and ego die about the meaning of a home visit from a possum with a belly full of maggots.
Toll the bells – death is coming.
Yes. Death is coming.
On this Dark Moon on the 17th March, I’m still deciphering the messages from Possum while gently letting go of trying to control death.
I’m seeing the value of sometimes playing dead to foil my aggressors.
I’m seeing the importance of lying still and thinking about my next move.
And I’m seeing the space that gets created when I let things go.
It’s not easy. But.
Death may hold me in grief and in my bone crunching sadness and relief when my father dies after 13 years of being sick.
Death may gently pull away my fragile branches, burn my dying leaves, snap my ego and rattle my false sense of self.
Death may gently take out the trash of my own notgoodenough-ness and playingsmall-ness. Death may gently take away what no longer serves me.
Death may gently clear those weeds I need to pull out, so I actually have space and time and resources to water, nurture and grow the most spectacular new seeds this year.
And let Death show me that it’s safe to watch some things die. It’s safe to burn some things down. It’s safe to let some things go.
Because only then, may I have room to grow.
I need to hear more stories about strong women leading beauty-filled and spiritual lives, and so I created Empress Crow and Rabbit. It’s a forum to showcase the inspirational stories of women in uniquely feminine careers. It's also a bridge between what we think we know and what we feel is right. Thank you for joining me – let’s all learn, grow and celebrate the feminine together.
Photo credit: Lucy Spartalis