If you want to grow, if you want to evolve - you have to be willing to die. You have to be willing to die over and over again. You have to be willing to repeatedly suffer the exquisite pain of loss. Because you cannot transform or be reborn if first there is not death. But since our culture is terrified of death and suffering, we resist it at every turn. Even the smallest of deaths we resist. Death of a belief we had about ourselves. Death of our plans for the afternoon. And certainly we resist the more significant deaths...a death of some part of our identity. Death of a relationship, of a future we had imagined. Death of some sought after ideal.
Do you know those people who rarely grow or change? Or who see themselves as victims of life, should anything go “wrong”? They are the ones who will do whatever it takes to keep death as far away as possible.
Then there are those of us who are dragged, kicking and screaming towards death. Which of course only increases the intensity of the suffering and prolongs it. For no rebirth, no transformation can occur until we say yes to Death. Until we say yes to whatever is needing to die or has already.
But in order to say yes to death, we must have great courage. In order to say yes to death, we must be willing to endure suffering. We must accept there is suffering in this life and we are not exempt. We must be brutally self-honest. We must be profoundly vulnerable. For how can we die and be reborn if we cannot admit to ourselves what has died or needs to? How can we die and be reborn while defended and shielded by armor? And, too, we must have a healthy ego, able to fall apart without losing ourselves completely.
In ancient myths, when we worshipped the Great Mother - death and a journey into the underworld were willfully, freely chosen. The rewards of such a descent were known and sought after. But our newer myths reflect our newer fears. Look at Persephone, who must be kidnapped and forcefully dragged to the underworld against her wishes in order to transform.
Imagine what it might be like to see death - in all her forms, both figurative and literal - as not an enemy, but a guide? If when she reached out her hand to us, we took it, despite our trembling? If we want to truly live, that is the only way. Because only when we say yes to death, can we say yes to life.
Leyla Aylin, Midwives of the Soul
Art by Natacha Einat aka @skip_closer