PORTLAND, Ore. — On May 26, 2017, a man began to rant on a train in Portland, Oregon. That rant rapidly began to target two female teenagers. One was Black, the other wore a hijab. The two moved away from that man with his anti-Muslim threats. Three other males stepped between the threatening man and the two targeted teenagers. Within minutes, all three had their throats cut. Two died.
One of the dead men was Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche.
Namkai-Meche’s grandmother Freyja (Dr. Ginny Anderson) has strong ties to the Pagan Community. She helped to found Stone Dancers coven over twenty-five years ago. Freyja identifies as “a shamanic practitioner and a priestess of the goddess Freyja.” In late May, she spoke with The Wild Hunt about her grandson’s life and death.
Namkai-Meche “essentially considered himself Pagan,” according to Freyja. She said that his multiple names reflected the different parts of his spiritual journey. For example, the hyphenated name, “Namkai-Meche”, was bestowed upon him as part of his Tibetan Lineage.
She said that, when his family interred his ashes in a Buddhist monetary, they saw a rainbow.
Freyja described Namkai-Meche’s curiosity, his passion for life, and his passion for the Earth. This curiosity and passion drove him to explore, question, and learn constantly. “He ignited that quest in everyone he met. He inspired questions, and an awareness of paradox and inquiry that fueled their quests. He pushed the boundaries,” Freyja said.
Namkai-Meche led his friends in exploring places. He pushed “them physically and emotionally to reach beyond what they considered their limits,” she recalled. He got them to “pay attention to openings of consciousness and awareness of being fully present.” She described how Namkai-Meche and one of his cousins went out into nature on an island in Canada. When they returned, “They would come back radiant and transformed.”
A Native American female elder supported him as he lay dying. Namkai-Meche’s last words were reportedly: “Tell everybody on the train that I love them.” Freyja said that dying in that state comes from a “profound place of acceptance and presence.” He was beyond fear or anger.
Freyja was adamant that people think of her grandson as a winner and not a victim. “Death was not a defeat.” His last words showed that, she said. “When he was a child, it was a challenge to play Monopoly with Tilly [Namkai-Meche’s nickname], because he passionately intended to win! And he remains a winner.”
She does not want people feeling sorry her grandson.
Freyja described what she called a “Big Dream” that she he had years ago in Peru. In that dream she was told that she was to “be present at the transformation of life as we know it on the planet.” She understood that message as her life’s mission. She has since looked for ways to take part in creating change, even when she lacks control over events.
She considers Namkai-Meche’s death, and its repercussions, in light of that Big Dream. “Some actions must be taken. Some aspects of his death will open eyes.”
People sent her many messages after Namkai-Meche’s death. She found a quote attributed to Rumi, a thirteenth century Iranian Muslim poet, to be particularly evocative of her grandson. “Be thirsty for the ultimate water, and then be prepared for what will come from the spring.”
Namkai-Meche’s attitude toward his death has helped his family to cope. They chose the hashtag “We Choose Love.”
Freya said “We are left with the incentive to continue that quest, holding an intention for the highest good. Still, there is anguish and pain. Tilly is dead.”She continued: “Intending to choose love is no small challenge. Understanding and compassion may be present,” but that doesn’t mean that things are okay. “Tilly is dead; he moved into that state with grace, but he is dead. There are rents in the fabric of our lives.” Acceptance and presence do not negate pain, she added.
Freyja compared Namkai-Meche’s death with that of Balder. She described both Balder and Namkai-Meche as beings of light who died. Their deaths resulted from failings in the larger community, she believes.
Freyja has since had dream-dialogues with her grandson. She feels “He’s watching the show – available to continue to prod, inspire, and celebrate – engaging in cheerful, mindful awareness.”
Muralists are transforming the walls of the train station where the train stopped after the attack. On May 26, 2018, the anniversary of the attacks, Portland dedicated that mural. Its theme is “We choose love.”