Death–The Next Great Adventure

The Anatomy of Death: Notes from a Healer’s Casebook

So I have written a book about my experiences with the dying as a psychic-shamanic practitioner. I call it shamanic practitioner, as although I am part Native American, I cannot say that I learned of my calling and how to do it from a Native American Shaman, so I am not a shaman. I would call my mentor one, but she would not. She calls herself a student, as I do of myself.

What is this book about?  Who is Sarah? As Dumbledore might say, “To the well-ordered mind, death is but the next great adventure.” In conducting NIH-funded research in Reiki for chronic pain and in my own private practice as an energy healer, I found that some people who came for Reiki immediately got better, some did slowly over time, and some did not.  Others met with that final door we call death progressing through a distinct set of steps common to all of them, but in a relaxed and joyous way.  How and why was this?  In the course of their dying process, what had we done that was different?5031814-lg

The Buddhists have studied these processes over time and possess a finely tuned understanding of the function and meaning of death within their culture. For them, death is merely a punctuation mark, a single brushstroke in a much larger picture that goes on forever.   It’s all well and good that the Eastern perspective has come to such resolution about this process, but in a culture that worships youth and believes science has the answer to everything, how can death be looked at as anything other than a defeat?

I am primarily a storyteller; after a lifetime in the hard sciences, I now believe it is our stories that hold the ultimate power to transform. Though I have been given permission both by the patients and their families to tell these stories, their names and even some of the extraneous facts have been changed to protect their privacy. So attached to this post is Sarah’s story, which is about her journey through that final door.

The book will be published shortly on Amazon, The Anatomy of Death: Notes from a Healer’s Casebook. Feel free to print it, hand it around in its entirety.  Take it as allegory, if you like, or as an interesting, What If?


A Dirty Secret

So I must tell you, I’m working on my dissertation in Human Development, the thing is bloody hard work.  Our media and culture do not encourage deep, vertical thinking, everything is done on the fly and vast subjects encapsulated into a Lede followed by a few paragraphs.  Most people never get to the end of an article, much less invest years of study on a small group of interrelated subjects.  Academia is an interesting animal, like all areas of earnest endeavor, you have to really love it, because in-between all of the earnest endeavor, there is a lot of bullshit.  But I do love it.

But that’s not the dirty secret; within all of that has been the study of hands-on healing, clairvoyance and shamanic practice to invoke change.  I didn’t attend any one of a thousand “schools” that give  a “certificate” for a million dollars at the end of 12 weeks work with instructors whose experience is questionable at best.  I studied with an old woman–and she is old now–who has been doing this work for more than 50 years.  Like most people of this type, she would hesitate to even call herself a teacher or shaman, much less one of the most intuitive, gifted souls I have ever known.  Within her own realm, she is a genius.  It’s kind of funny–while others represent, or take on avatars of tremendous power–the eagle, or the leopard, for example–hers would be the teddy bear.  With pink fur.  Who could kick your ass into next week if she chose to do so.  But she wouldn’t need to, because by the time you’d gotten to know her, there wouldn’t be a thing on this earth you wouldn’t do for her, out of pure love.  Love is her weapon, no, it is her, no one can withstand her.

So that’s the secret.  Because I live in the world of academia, even most psychologists I know–and I know a lot–would be vastly uncomfortable if they knew this about me.  And it is a shame that it has to be this way, that even the work of Jung makes them uncomfortable.  Yet it was his work, and the work of Maslow that opened the door to the transpersonal, the perspective that the world had been working with for millennia, long before dualism forced our “either-or” view.

Interestingly, it was not a “cognitive” event that forced this change in me.  And it was forced, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this new horizon, this epoché, as Husserl would say, a suspension of disbelief.  And that tale will be told forthwith.