I am a vigilant witness of the Athabasca watershed system in my home community of Jasper, Alberta, Canada. At the tailwaters of this river system is one of the largest tar sand operations in the world. As I witness my homestream, I have been learning about the potency of being fully present in my body. This full-bodied presence has opened the floodgates to experience a very direct contact with the Earth and the vastness of her wild intelligence. For example, the Athabasca River is teaching me that clean water is life. This is not a lofty metaphor, but an inherent truth. Whilst this teaching about Water may appear to be a simplistic, the tactics that my body has learned to avoid, deny, censor and forget its own inherent affiliation to this basic truth (clean water is life) becomes a salient point of discussion.
As I document my evolving relationship with my watershed system, I give voice to how my body is a fractal of the natural world. I believe that our survival is rooted in relationship. As a wilderness advocate, my intention is to stretch the current parameters of our relationship with the more-than-human community. The invaluable apprenticeship with the Athabasca River has been an initiation into the rhythms of the mandate of life that is FEMININE. These wild, dark, feminine forces are inviting me to step into a greater expression of what it means to be a human being.
My vision for the future begins by learning how to become a skilled practitioner of grief.
I can no longer deny that we are living in a time of massive death. The unregulated scale of human destruction in the ecological fabric of our planet has never been greater. The function for those of us that have been born now (and likely for several generations to come) is to turn deeply towards the death. Eco-philosopher, Joanna Macy explains that collective grieving will be the next evolutionary leap our species will need to take.
In these times of mass extinction, it seems like an impossible request to make, but it is critical that new leadership roles emerge to support individuals as they turn towards the death that is happening in aspects of their personal stories. I recognize that giving voice to the pain I experience as I witness fracking, tailing ponds leaking and loss of wildlife habitat (to name a few) are critical pieces in cracking open the dominant North Americian storyline. Herein lies the potential visionary seeds so that members of the modern world might reimagine our relationship with the Earth.
Author, Terry Tempest Williams writes:
The courage to continue before the face of despair is the recognition that in those eyes of darkness, we find our night vision. Women blessed with death-eyes are fearless.
I believe it is this ‘night vision’ that will move us into the center of this massive dismemberment in a right and beautiful way. It is in this context that I will reintroduce myself as Death Muse and Death Midwife. A Death muse who is singing and moving us towards that death. A Death Midwife who is dancing and ushering us in and through that death.