The Druid's Path
by Carole RavenDancer
[From the 2005 Lughnasadh Workshop at Nanny Oak Farm.]
BLESSINGS of the Land upon you! Lughnasadh—the beginning of the end of harvest. Here in the USA it is the beginning of the death season that will come full circle at Samhain. Much like the harvest crops we know that we are going to transform! Our physical bodies will die and become something else. It is a natural process!
We know that we are going to die. Most of us do not know when or how.
Most of us are not prepared. Most of us are scared. Most of us do not know what to expect, nor do we believe that we have choices in the manner in which we depart for the next world. Naturally, we do have choices! And, it is time to begin our inner discussion (knowing full well that inner actions become manifest in the outer worlds) of what each of us need to do to prepare for death in the mundane world and life in the otherworld.
It is not a good idea to wait until you think you will need to plan. Though we would like to live to a ripe old age, accidents occur, illness can set in, as well as CRAFTS (can’t remember a [fracking] thing syndrome), plus our tendency to put off what we perceive as not important! It is our personal, family, and community responsibility to formally choose and implement our earthly decisions. It is especially important to legalize your choices if you are a partner in a non-legal relationship.
There are many books, websites, and organizations that can provide us with information or help us prepare for a traditional mundane death. There are many options available to us in the USA, and abroad. But how do we legally inform others of our choices? A health care proxy, living will, power of attorney for health care, and palliative care directive are some of the tools that we can use to announce those “end of life” choices. Then there are funeral, burial, and memorial services options—someone has to choose--hopefully it will be you!
Though states in the USA, and other countries use different terminology and have slightly different laws, today in the mundane world the health care proxy is recognized as the single most important legal document to ensure that the medical and health care professions will honor your choices. This document may be called a health care proxy, medical directive, power of attorney for health care, advanced medical directive, or palliative care directive. The purpose of this document is for you to legally assign responsibility to a health care agent who will act on your behalf if and when you are unable to make health care decisions. You must sign this document while you are of “sound mind” and in the USA either have it “witnessed” by others or notarized.
The next important legal binding document is the living will. In the USA this document may be termed living will, declaration, or advance directive. The purpose of this document is to notify your family, doctor, hospital, and legal courts of your decisions regarding the withholding or withdrawing of health care treatment. In your state or country, this information may or may not be contained in the health care proxy. You must sign this document while you are of “sound mind” and in the USA either witnessed by others or notarized.
It is important to research the laws in your state in order to be sure that your choices will be upheld by local, state, or country law. Along with numerous reference books noted at the end of this article you may find the following websites helpful:
California Coalitiation for Compasionte Care
Heritage Legal and Financial Co.
Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
It is very important that once you have completed a health care proxy and/or living will that you make multiple copies and keep a few with you at all times! It is NOT enough to have one on file with your doctor, hospital, partner, etc. In an emergency, the hospital staff, your partner, or your doctor(s) are NOT going to look for your proxy! They are going to react to the emergency! If you don’t fancy carrying an 8”x11” document with you, check your state requirements to determine how much information is required in an emergency situation. Some states will accept a business card size document, much like an organ donor card.
Please note: It depends on your state’s laws, but chances are you do not need a lawyer to prepare the health care proxy or living will. The websites listed above contain current information and forms for the USA, UK & AUS. For those of you in other countries using web search key words such as “living will” or “medical directive” will point you in the right direction.
We, as Western Mystery practitioners, need to create our own spiritual & magical proxies! Documents to indicate how our magical tools will be disposed of. Documents that should name whom we wish to have present as our trusted guide(s) at the occasion of our death. If it is not possible for our guide(s) to be physically present, the means of contacting them should be documented. If you choose not to have a death attendant in this world that too should be documented.
The purpose of the spiritual proxy is to give permission for your guide or death attendant to work on your behalf. This spiritual proxy should become a part of your health care proxy, and must be honored by family, doctors, hospitals, hospices, etc. Sign this document while you are of “sound mind” and have it witnessed or notarized according to the same terms and conditions as the health care proxy. Your health care agent should be comfortable with and trusted to carry out the terms of your spiritual proxy.
The magical proxy is to give instruction and permission to use or dispose of your magical tools properly. You may also want to have a legal will that includes your wishes regarding the future of your magical tools. In the USA, a legal will governs the disposal of material goods. Sign this document while you are of “sound mind” and have it witnessed or notarized. (Note: in the USA lawyers can prepare, witness, and notarize such documents.)
It is beyond the scope of this article to present information about the many types of funeral or burial arrangements available both in the USA and other countries. Check your state’s funeral and burial laws, choose a method, and most importantly discuss, discuss, discuss your choices with your trusted family or friend(s). Some excellent reference books to get you started are listed below. You may also wish to include your choice in your legal will.
Finally, Adept Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki “was taught that as a student of the Mysteries that it was the right of every Initiate to go over in full consciousness…” (The New Book of the Dead, pg. 18) Not everyone makes this choice, but it is an option! If this is what you want, you must prepare because it takes time, practice, and courage. It is important that you prepare the others who will assist you, and again this choice should be included in a signed, written document, perhaps included as part of your spiritual proxy.
Naturally, it is our responsibility to prepare ourselves for death and rebirth. We have options, choices regarding our health care, death walk, and burial that we should make in this world that will aid in transitioning to the otherworld. It is not fair to leave those choices to others—that is when guilt creeps in. So, please take the time now, at Lughnasadh the harvest, to research, discuss, and begin making those choices legal so that you will come full circle responsibly and with grace and dignity.
- Mitford, Jessica, The American Way of Death Revisited. ISBN 0679771867. A must read for information on funeral & burial laws and the funeral industry in the USA.
- Carlson, Lisa, Caring for your Own Dead. ISBN 0942679016. Another must read for information on funeral and burial methods and law. Website: http://www.funeralconsumerinfo.org/.
- Nuland, Sherwin B., How We Die. ISBN 0679414614. Not a book for the faint of heart, Dr. Nuland documents the process of physical death and the healer as part of the death process.
- Ashcroft-Nowicki, Dolores, The New Book of the Dead. ISBN 0684839385. A quote from this book: “such an Initiate will have prepared the death working long before and worked out exactly how they wish the remains to be disposed of and where. If death comes quickly whether it be a natural or a violent death they will know enough to recognize its imminence: whether it is best to fight for life, or if this is the time to flow with the experience and spring free of the physical body.” (pg. 65).
- Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth, On Death and Dying. ISBN 0684839385. First written in 1969, this is remains a classic and is well worth reading.
- Starhawk & M. Macha NightMare, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying. ISBN 0062515160. Though written from a Wiccan perspective, this is an excellent book with many chants, prayers and crafts to assist the dying and their families.
- Golden, Thomas R., Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing. ISBN 0965464911. I found much wisdom in this book that basically deals with grief. A good reference book for those who plan a memorial or burial service