A series of personal reflections from a rowdy priestess
I am standing on the warm sand watching the waves eat my feet when the thought bubbles up:
The past is done.
It was one of those simple, profound statements that shake you out of stupor.
A few friends and I were out of town for the weekend and we had just spent a glorious day — a godly day, really — frolicking in the wilderness along the beach, hanging out in ancient trees and reveling in our animal magic. It was one of those afternoons that felt endless, the way the world would unfold for me as a child with nowhere better to be; dialed into the moment acutely and completely.
Lost and free. Present and endless.
We had given ourselves up wholly to nature’s epic cathedral. Instinct guided us through the forest, along the ridge, past the cows, and into the wind. There is no need for a clock when you’re completely tuned into the universe; the information simply drops in when it’s time to shift.
What shocked me awake in that moment was experiencing this truth as a numinous density that passed through my entire body, leaving me more spacious now that it had left. After so many months in the cosmic washing machine, an old energetic program had been released. The feeling was like a thick fog scraping dust from my leaves, revealing the green underneath.
Lately, I’m experiencing thoughts not as “of me” but rather entities that visit me. Moving muses, if you will. They are intelligent bodies of energy with a resonance that is magnetized to similar energies in the field. I am not them, and they are not me. Some, of course, I like better than others. Let’s call these an “identity”.
Identities are only the thoughts we tell ourselves about who we are.
Although brutally obvious upon later reflection, the reality this thought pointed to was far more intriguing to me than its initial zen packaging. If this thought was a thing, then what did the vacuum reveal to me?
Investigating, I realized that I am the cause of my own suffering. I have been clinging to an idea that was never “me” in the first place, and the expiration date on that thought has long since passed.
Many others before me have taught this, but I am finding that it is only when we are clear and receptive that our thoughts actually shift. (Psst — Nature can help with this.)
Certain deaths we welcome and others we resist.
Life is a series of deaths: some momentous, some miraculous, some utterly mundane and insignificant. We lose teeth, we break up, we step into new paradigms. We go from brilliant babies to horny teenagers to minivan people. We evolve a million times throughout our life and each time we walk away from something that had defined us, we die.
Death is the first step in any transformation.
A great story is leaving me and I felt its exit that day on the beach. Maybe it died months ago and the scab has been clinging to protect the new life knitting itself underneath. But nonetheless — I have been clinging to that story, that life, that me. That identity. And yet — my soul’s purpose is to be free.
The beautiful truth revealed to me is that I’ve been resisting the total loss of control required in this equation. I am an apprentice to the magical art of alchemy and if there’s one thing that transformation teaches, it is that we can’t evolve and still be the same thing.
Change is the only guarantee.
It’s so much easier to intellectualize death; to give tidy lectures about the power of surrender as you’re standing on stable ground at safe remove. It’s easier to love a truth that is not actively defying you in its teaching. But it turns out that in order be re-birthed at the level I asked for, a big part of my world had to transform. This year has been a Great death for me, a shamanic death of spiritual proportions. It has been the most brutal, humbling, magical, godly year of my life. And I am *still* learning how to die with grace, gratitude, and delight now that I know this is the path to becoming free.
A few years ago, I went as Shakti, the mother destroyer, for Halloween. Considered the Supreme Being, Shakti is the primal force inside the universe — woman AS universe — the creatrix who rebirths the world until the end of time. It never occurred to me then that I was calling in her power, her ruthless precision, her clarifying death rattle. I embodied the energy I was ready to receive and then death swept her storm in. They say when a woman chants a certain Shakti mantra, God clears the way.
How far you go depends on what you’re willing to let go of.
I am finally starting to understand a universal truth:
The more I surrender to death, the more I welcome in life.
So whoever needs to hear this:
Let it die. Let it go. Bless its life. It is time. You are ready.
More importantly, you are infinite.
So I wish you a million deaths.
Katharine Hargreaves is a writer, facilitator, and culture alchemist living and playing in California. A translator of tectonic patterns of transformation, Katharine invents interactive experiences and social rituals for a new humanity. She is the founder of ARKO, a culture lab for human connection and AWAKYN, a card game changing the world one magic moment at a time. Find more of her writing at The Fearless Experiment: a way to evolve your world through adventure or get on her monthly mailing list for raps from a real life wizard.