Musings on Death & Rebirth

Reading jm’s post on the I Ching symbol for Decay got me started thinking about the changes in the attitude toward death in this country in the last 40-50 yrs or so. It’s become almost a social “no-no” to even mention the reality that all living beings die, sooner or later. When I was a 1st year nursing student in a Catholic Teaching hospital in 1965, we were all ushered into the nursery to be shown a newborn baby with practically no skull. At that time, the usual practice was to simply allow Nature to takes its course. Now it’s pull out all the stops to save all life at considerable expense to the families, both financially and emotionally. Where did this change? Was it when Pluto moved into Virgo in the sixties? Was it the movement of the bulk of the population from rural to urban centers? Growing up on farms was to observe the cycle of life first hand. The cattle, chickens, pigs, etc, raised for food, were often butchered right on the spot. Not all the baby kittens, puppies and chicks survived to adulthood, and we often saw them dying or killed in front of us. And for those of us whose family members hunted & fished for meat to feed the family, we saw & often helped in that too. This is the Mother’s way – there is no “wrong” attached to it, it simply “is”. When we fail to appreciate or participate in the process of birth, death & rebirth, we are shutting ourselves away from Life it’s self.

With so much of the population isolating themselves from the Natural world by living in large urban areas, buying their food at grocery stores, getting a great of their information in the form of “info-bits” on the boob tube, and generally living out their lives in air conditioning, they are very sadly unprepared when the Mother steps in! Katrina is a prime example of the resulting chaos. Another example is the power outages caused by the extreme heat across so much of the country over the last several weeks. There have been hints of more changes to come, especially in late August. I will leave the details of that to the astrologers whose specialty is following the large cycles of the outer planets. Pat Paquette over on Pisces Chronicles has several excellent articles & has promised us more about the timing of these events.

Let’s consider how we view Pluto’s processes since, as I noted before, many of us here have active Pluto’s in our charts and plenty of first hand experience of learning to give up controlling actions and expectations. Developing personal rituals to name the person, situation, whatever and release those to the highest good is often helpful. We can also find valuable information in the stories of those who came before us. All cultures have myths & legends that surround the cycle of death & rebirth, and going to these sources and re-connecting to our heritage can bless us in many ways.

The photo is of the home place in the deep of winter in the ’50s – before the Spring and renewal. . .

27 responses to “Musings on Death & Rebirth

  1. This is a great one, neith. And timely as Pluto finishes in Sagittarius.When my man died, I was alone with him during the week long process, and at the moment of death. I will never be the same. I was in awe of this unbelievable inevitable stunning event and my alreay high respect for life increased. I know it’s right, the way it happens. Death comes for the person when the time is exactly right. It’s hard to witness, but the person dying is finding the ultimate release, sometimes from misery, and we are judging from our own perspective, not theirs.In this vein, the destruction going on in the world is best experienced metaphysically as Pluto is destroying in the way he does. Often through great difficulty from the individual’s limited understanding.We can judge morality but we simply can’t say whether any event in anyone else’s, any group’s, or any country’s life is right or wrong. We don’t know if it’s necessary for evolution, and unstoppable.Pluto in our charts and plenty of first hand experience of learning to give up controlling actions and expectations.That is exactly it. I’m doing that right now as I observe the world situation in a different way as this transit ends. I have to remember my own experience and my own Sagittarian trust in life. The best I can do is not hurt anyone myself. I am not in charge of other people’s destinies, if even my own.

  2. I also believe that the agony around world leaders is often overdone, and used to avoid self confrontation. We share a lot of the same behavior, just not as magnified. They are also not truly in control, but merely a part of a whole organism. They aren’t the source. Even in our individual bodies, the forces of evil circulate every moment. We have to deal with them.The illusion of their power is what they bank on, and tracking them every minute, taking in the constant agony, quaking in terror, is just what works for them in weakening our strength and immunity. We have to build from within as the opposing element and use fear when it’s truly needed. No one knows what’s really going on. We naturally fear death, but I don’t think it was intended for us to sacrifice life to this fear. They are separate. Death is the opposite of birth. A passageway.

  3. I have only experienced two deaths up close — both my stepfathers. Both had been ill — my stepfather Bud had had a bypass operation and Parkinson’s and had a blood clot on Xmas day (less than an hour after we persuaded my mom to come take a break and eat Xmas dinner). He was on life support for two more days before the family reached a consensus that he was “already gone” and had him disconnected. He was given morphine and breathed deeply four times and then stopped.My other stepfather Tom died this spring after being in the hospital with renal failure for a month. His daughters were there constantly and there was much laughing and crying in that room. The younger adult granddaughter and the men were much more upset. Each daughter said goodbye, everyone held hands and again, his death was a cessation of life. He frowned a bit and the breathing just stopped. Both were the endings of lives well lived. That’s all we can aim for, I think. Good blogging.

  4. Well written. This, oddly enough, is why I quit being a vegetarian. While I respect the choice to not eat meat, I feel more and more that it’s what Charles Eisenstein, in his self-published book “The Yoga of Eating,” calls “premature transcendance.” For some people, it’s a way of distancing ourselves from the reality of death, our own and the animal’s. We literally eat death, make it part of us, and take part in the cycle of birth, growth, maturity, decay and death.Jessica Prentice, a writer and activist I met last fall, writes beautifully of cycles of eating. I recommend her site wholeheartedly: wrote an article that I will try to locate that matches this blog entry from you, Neith.I have so much to say about this topic but I have a billion things to do right now, dammit! :o/

  5. oh my, “blush” – thank you all! I was a little apprehensive putting this out there as this is a difficult topic. However, you all have justified my faith in the Pluto ruled!!! And all input & comments are deeply welcomed as I also feel strongly we need to look Death in the face and say “thank you” . . . 🙂

  6. neith. What a statement. The “apprehension in putting that out” is EGGSACTLY what our Saturn/Pluto is trying to get us to overcome. To open up, release, and express our true selves without fear and control of the outcome. And so goes the Saturn return. The reward.Hallelujah.

  7. i also have lots say, as death and i know each other very well. Both of it’s beauty; sharing the extreme joy of being as my beloved brother left in a radiance of light and exquisite peace. And of it’s sorry and painful ugliness as i have witnessed families fight over rights and outcomes for people in skilled nursing facilities. i volunteered for 4 years as an Ombudsman in Long Term Care for the Elderly, a state funded, federal program. i’ve sat on many Bioethics Panels to determine what is in the best interest of a terminal resident who is on life support. Walking fine lines. Oddly Neith, your comment about Pluto in Virgo hits home. It bacame a joke in our office “Pluto in Virgo” we would say about a certain age group who has Pluto in Virgo (and let me quickly say not all)-the bottom-liners, like the one who wanted to pull the plug while mom could still speak for herself and was saying NO! In the end it was about money, usually is. So while it may have been pluto in vigo who shifted us away from wanting to look at death in society, (my bet’s on Neptune) my experience says the people who have pluto in Virgo are not unwilling to “just do” almost the other way in fact. When you are around death, it becomes de-mystified, letting Nature take its course seems easiest. Fear makes a lot of people either avoid or want to just get it over with.My friends at Hospice and i speak often of how the road of compassion has become lonely.Great topic…did you get your nursing degree?

  8. Joei appreciate your thoughts on vegetarianism…i eat fish, but otherwise no animals by a choice of what makes me feel well, i have never thought too much about it. The preference was formed as long ago as i can remember. As soon as i could make my own decisions that was one of the first. i was raised as Neith was…on the reservation, death was not shielded from us but there was always respect and a sense of sacred around it.

  9. Great comments!!! This is what I was hoping for, an unfolding of respect for a rite of passage, no more, no less. There is much to think on here, and, Joe, I know I’m looking forward to hear more from your perspective!!Both were the endings of lives well lived. That’s all we can aim for, I think. Very good point, Casey. There are so many deaths about which that cannot be said. You want to hear serious mutterings it’s about the soldiers dying in Iraq & Afghanistan . . . . now that’s a waste of life & death!No, I didn’t finish my nursing degree – had excellent grades just no desire to cram myself into the little box that was nursing in the ’60s. The whole “The Doctor” as god went down about as well as can be expected w/this stubborn, independent person . . . .NOT! However, I have had a life long interest in healing, and have followed the developments in alternative methods of healing as well as Western medicine.

  10. Lesson from a toddler on death:My 3 year son had been off on a hike with his father when Mr. Tibbs, Maine Coon cat/friend of 20 years, died. When the guys returned, i explained Tibbs was gone…dead. “Where is Tibbs?” My son asked.”i left him with the Vet”He pulled a chair across the kitchen, got up on it and eye to eye, he asked again, “Where is Tibbs? I don’t mean the body”(as if i were stupid -you know that tone?)HMMMMM, “Do you remember where you were before you were born?”Long pause, eyes shift up and away, gone for a moment…”I can’t remember…””That is where””Oh,” pause, “that’s Good!”Pushes chair back under the table and goes off to play.

  11. Ah, Tseka, the wisdom of children. :o)Although I am not Hispanic, I started to observe Dia de los Muertos in my own way a few years ago, as an adjunct to Samhain, the end of summer. It coincided with the discovery of a fantastic group that puts on a Halloween show every year around October 31. Let me take you there, but I caution you it’s a long story… spite of my comfort with the thought of my own death (indeed, I kind of look forward, in a non-morbid way, to seeing what comes next!), I naturally dread the passing of those I love.I just noticed that my passage from vegetarianism back to carnivorism has taken place along with my interest in Dia de los Muertos…

  12. I couldn’t resist sharing this essay from my journal as well, because it captures perfectly jm’s point about fear. I couldn’t quite see it, at the time, but it makes sense now. Maybe that’s why I was led here, to finally “get it.” :o)

  13. Joe! what a fine piece of writing, i was there, wonderful!So much of our attitdes about death seem cultural, among the Salish, many are known to speak with and see the dead. If you have a question you go and ask an ancestor, this is not doubted, and certainly not “crazy”.It is a fairly typical attitude among the circum-polar people. The Saami say death is like taking off one’s coat. Is what we expect what we experience?

  14. “Oh,” pause, “that’s Good!”Yes, Tseka, your son’s comment goes right to the heart of the matter. That is just how I felt as a child & still do as an adult. It’s not the dying part that I have trouble with, it’s those who are left as you mentioned. A couple of months before my dad’s father died, we were all gathered at my grandparent’s house. When my grandfather came up & gave me a hug – which he never did – I knew he was saying goodbye. In two months, he was gone mostly because he simply didn’t want to be here anymore. He chose to go, his senses were fading & he couldn’t go into the hills where he was the happiest. Why others in family couldn’t see that, I don’t know.Joe, your writing is so vivid! What a marvelous experience for you. Minneapolis is a very unique place from the sounds of it. Thank you for sharing your writings w/us. I added the Stirring the Cauldron site to my favorites w/a promise to myself to go back there & investigate further! Say – looks like you got your much desired break in the weather!! 🙂

  15. Went & looked in the ephemeris for late 60’s, early 70’s. That’s about the time Neptune moved into Sagittarius. I will leave the interpretation of that to jm . . . 🙂 I’m beginning to get “information” overload!!! So much good info flooding in & not enough time to take it all in. But please don’t stop!!! 🙂

  16. Joe, you are talented. you have the novelist’s skill with descriptive prose and I can tell how much you love words. tseka, that son of yours. I do like him.I’m not so sure there’s been significant change in recent years in the age old fear of death. It’s in all of history and maybe the difference now is that we have the technology to prolong life artificially(?)The wise men have tried to soothe people’s fears, the philosophers, to explain it, and the doctors now to forestall it. I think all cultures have their rituals around it to try and glamourize the reality or promise a continuation. And all people are afraid of and pained by the loss. The fear is just as natural as death itself. Neptune in Scorpio could have idealized the process and added to the cosmetic cover we like so much, but Pluto through Scorpio brought some interesting developments. The life support is in full swing, but also, the right to die the way we want to, without medical intervention, and the huge growth of Hospice and a dignified and caring end to life came as well, and is growing fast. So it’s a mixed bag. people are dying at home again, as well as birthing. And now with Pluto through sagittarius, it seems to me that the clergy’s role has been slightly diminished as more people are creating their own death rituals.I am looking at some developments around aging and what to do about expensive deaths with Pluto in Capricorn.We have so far to go. And the fear is everpresent. The biggest problem I see is associating death with sickness or some infallibility. Thinking there is something wrong with it. I can see trying to cure disease, but if we could separate them and recognize death when it’s due, I would relax in the knowledge that we were getting somewhere.It’s a spiritual dilemma. Great food for thought.

  17. Good subject, Neith, and great comments everyone. Been a lot of death thru here in the last several years. My dad in ’92, My mom in ’02 and my grandmother this spring. It is really weird to be the oldest member of my immediate family at the tender age of 42. In the end, I have learned two things from this. Both my parents died of cancer. I am convinced it was the chemo that killed in the end. When my grandmother discovered she had cancer, right about new year’s this year, she decided to forgo any chemo and simply asked to be a comfortable as possible in a hospice for the end. We made our goodbyes during the few weeks she had left. I felt it was graceful of her, she was 93, and up to a few weeks before her diagnosis, she had been volunteering at a nursing home(she had been a nurse most of her life)helping people sometimes younger than herself. The first lesson I have taken away is that if I face the same cicumstances I will fight with every natural cure I can find, my mother did and succeeded for two years until she was persuaded to stop because her doctor was afraid it might be affecting the chemo. And if I can’t cure myself, I will go with grace…after all, this life is nice and all, but we all go and I accept that.The second thing I learned while I visited my mom for the last time in IL to straighten up her house…she wanted to have it clean so things could be sorted thru more easily… a practical capricorn to the end…I remember finding so many things, craft kits and sewing projects, yarn, needles and patterns, all these things my mother had been putting aside, as she said, for her retirement… something to while the time in a few more years, never now. I also found a bottle of Chivas that my parents had bought in Canada in’72. It was going to be for some future anniversary, sometime after they retired.. Their whole life seemed to have been constantly to ‘save’ everything for some mythological point when they would be able to relax and enjoy it(which never came…).So, the second lesson that I had impressed upon me was to enjoy the moment. To never delay deep gratification until this or that time. Because sooner or later the time runs out…I think this is why I’m not going thru much of the ‘midlife crisis’ that I see so many other friends going thru. In fact I seem to resonate more with the people I’ve met who are doing second saturn or chiron returns. I’m resigned to the cycle of life, and I’m happy to at least have the chance to attempt a full life. I’ve done so much, and there is so much more to do…no regrets….Things snapped into perpective this spring…everything that has ever happened to me, no matter how painful has brought me to this point in my life and I am grateful.Sorry this is so long, I hope it makes sense…Virtual hugs to all here who have lost loved ones. Thank you everyone for sharing in this space, and to Neith for inviting us in… Take Care, JunoPS The hardest thing, actually has been recently losing the old cat that I ‘inheireted’ from my mom. Losing Spooky brought home the fact that my past is mostly gone now, he was a last tenous link to ‘the old days’….

  18. In Carlos Castaneda’a books, Don Juan spoke of death as being with us always around our left shoulders. I don’t know about left, But I share this view of death being here already. I don’t perceive it as somthing I’m going toward.I also believe that while we’re alive, our own death accompannies us and acts as our ally to protect us until we are ready to enter the dimension it’s in.

  19. Glad you all liked my accounting. :o) I used to write a lot as a youngster but it dried up for awhile until I started writing in LiveJournal.Tseka wrote: Is what we expect what we experience?Yes! When I was shedding the religion I was brought up in (Roman Catholicism) because it no longer fit me, I began to hunt for a new skin, so to speak. During that time, this same thought dawned on me. Maybe if we expect talking animals, or expect humans to talk with spirits and the dead, etc., that’s what we get. Maybe this is why Europeans don’t have much experience with such things because it’s been beaten out of them by religious institutions.My SO often sees and speaks with a few friends and relatives that have died. He says he’s in a kind of half-awake state when they visit. I’ve had a few such visits but only once in a great long while. We don’t consider it unusual, but we certainly don’t talk about it to others. I think if there was more acceptance of paranormal phenomena, there wouldn’t be so much mental illness as people struggle to repress what their culture doesn’t want to acknowledge.

  20. Let me just say that you all have completely justified my faith in those people who have intimate relationships w/the outer planets natally in particular. It seems we either learn from them and gradually grow into our authentic selves or we die – either in reality or through denial. And I know all of you know people who have chosen the latter route. I used to get angry at that but now the emotional response is sorrow. Such a waste of a life . . . since I believe we cycle back through, it’s very important to stay focused in this one!! :-)jm – you’re right about the growth of the Hospice movement, DNR’s, and Living Wills. As always there is a paradox involved where humans are concerned . . . we throw tremendous resources @ saving lives without considering the consequences to the individuals involved, and, on the other hand: the right to die the way we want to, without medical intervention, and the huge growth of Hospice and a dignified and caring end to life came as well, and is growing fast. It is so very generous of you to share from your hearts . . . Thank You . . . 🙂

  21. (((((juno))))) you are a continuing source of amazement & inspiration to all of us. Thanks, sweetie!!! lots of hugs & smoochies!!!! 🙂

  22. Hi, guys! I’m just back from lunch where I heard some news that felt like a kick to the gut…and I don’t know where to dump my feelings. I would normally blog it at my own blog. But my blog is part of my page at the game The Sims 2 (I’m a HUGE simmer) and I have to be careful there. Don’t want to shock the little children. Or even my SimFriends. Anyway, I’m SO upset…I thought I was over this stuff but DANG! I guess I’m not.Please let me preface this by saying I’m NOT a very conventional person. There are social mores that I respect and others that don’t raise a blip on my moral sonar. My own astrologer told me many decades ago that I am a “totally amoral” person. I was definitely offended, because I HAVE morals. They just aren’t like everyone elses. They are concerned with causing pain to others which something I just HATE to do.Eight years ago, I fell in love with a married man (ah yes, you say, we hear the sound of a sad piano in the background) who was my VERY best friend in all the world. Another Pisces like me who was hiding from all the mean nasty realities of the world — like a sickly body, a shrewish domineering wife, and work. The relationship was bliss for a full Saturn period (7-1/2 years), then he asked me to go to Colorado with him for a camping vacation. We went. We didn’t have a FABULOUS time but it wasn’t terrible either. Then the moment we got back and I got out of the car, his wife walked up. I went in the house and the relationship was OVER. No hysterics, no fighting, no phone calls. Just over. Like someone just ripped my heart out. I talked to him once to arrange his retrieval of his stuff. Now, you guys who know that I have a Scorpio Moon conjunct Mars should be very proud of me. Because I behaved totally like a calm, reasonable grown-up. But today I heard at lunch that he was moving in two weeks to Colorado. This was all he ever wanted in life — to live there and she made him move to Texas a couple of decades ago. So the bargain was obviously, drop her and we’ll do what you want.I thought I had let go. But my heart rate tells me I didn’t. Sorry for dumping this on you guys. I thought this might be a place where I could get some good supportive counsel. Almost all my real-life friends know nothing about any of this. I didn’t like causing her pain. I was just more concerned with HIS pain. And now all I have left is my own pain.

  23. Oh Casey . . . the whole love/pain equation never balances out. Like you, with that Saturn/Pluto in my ninth house, I have stubbornly developed my own system for determining appropriate behavior for myself. I was involved w/a married man though for a much briefer time period . . . and decided not to go there again. I knew/know how I would feel if I was on the other end . . . And, you’re right, if there is no blood then you did good! You know, the hardest part for me was always giving myself permission to still feel like I was a good person after making a bad judgement call. Being human is OK . . . take care of yourself & watch for the signs that you are royally pissed as this all processes. ‘Cause that too I know from personal experience with lots of Scorpio . . . it takes awhile to surface but when it does . . . volcanoes better stand back!! We’ll be here for you too . . . venting is VERY GOOD!!

  24. Thank you, Neith. I’m not going to explode. But it does say a lot about all the health problems I have had this year.Let it go. Let it go. This water wants to go back to Mombasa.

  25. Actually, my blogging really started at that moment.I wish I could invite you to check out my blog…but it is on a site where you have to buy a game to be able to register.

  26. I believe you are correct in relating the health problems to this . . . yelling @ the sky is lots better than assorted physical manifestations of the anger/pain/frustrations. I usually have these long talks w/the idiot that looks back at me from the mirror about stooopid behaviors . . . sometimes she listens, and sometimes she doesn’t. :-)blessings to you, good soul that you are . . . healing thoughts moving your way!

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