I was beheaded on Halloween. Yep, for real. My friend Kim and I drove to Eagle Creek to do the deed. We arrived at Hidden Lake to share food and intention with 14 other folk, then went into a yurt and began to journey. (A journey is a flight of the soul away from the body.)
Kim saw a dragonfly by the lake before we began. She carried a broom stick which had been retrieved from my deck and cut to the correct length for beheading by her husband Bob. When she placed the beheading stick in the grass she was surprised to find a young snake at rest. Kim is Celtic in belief and orientation and was delighted to inform me that dragonflies were called snake doctors because they were able to bring dead snakes back to life by sewing their wounds; a good omen for a ceremony like ours.
Drums were used to induce trance by a circle of men and women lining the walls of the yurt, as seven of us closed our eyes and entered an altered state. Our intention was to relieve suffering in the world.
I entered that realm as I always do, over a waterfall and into a gentle pool, then climbed through a mist, emerging in a vast green clearing. My ceremonial place was on the edge of a cliff where I made a blazing fire surrounded by white stones from a centuries old cathedral. When that was prepared with the help of animals and spirit people, I left to gather as much pain as I could hold. I took it from those in poverty, those being abused, those starving, lonely and homeless. I gathered pain from those in battle and those lost to themselves, the elderly, the abandoned and the broken. I contained as much suffering as I could store, then took more. When I was full I dumped grief, anguish, agony, torture and sorrow into the fire, placing myself in the inferno to allow embodiment of the ritual.
The rite was happening in two realms. I used a rattle in physical reality and flames in the unseen realm to move the pain from my feet to my knees, torso, shoulders, hands, arms, neck and finally to my head. When I felt the distress had all moved up, I left the fire and lay face down on a blanket. In the unseen realm, a large winged bird in the form of a man stood ready to take my head. In the physical space of the yurt, Kim struck my body across the shoulders three times to symbolically release the head, and waited as the unseen and the physical worlds came together. The bird-man emptied it of suffering and pain, cleaning and purifying the inside. When he put it back on my shoulders, it was crystal-like, my vision enhanced, all suffering discarded. When the reassembling was complete, I turned on my back so Kim could clean my face with cold water, stroke my brow and remove remaining tears. The process was extremely intense, liberating and nothing I would ever want to do again.
So, there you have it. Isn’t that what all 65 year old grandmothers do on Halloween?