Death as a rite of passage

During the season of Samhain in the northern hemisphere, TWH talks with Rev. Angie Buchanon about death midwifery and dying a “good death.”

Life Cycles: What Modern Society Can Learn from Paganism

“Now that’s what I call magic—seein’ all that, dealin’ with all that, and still goin’ on. It’s sittin’ up all night with some poor old man who’s leavin’ the world, taking away such pain as you can, comfortin’ their terror, seein’ ‘em safely on their way…and then cleanin’ ‘em up, layin’ ‘em out, making ‘em neat for the funeral, and helpin’ the weeping widow strip the bed and wash the sheets—which is, let me tell you, no errand for the fainthearted—and stayin’ up the next night to watch over the coffin before the funeral, and then going home and sitting down for five minutes before some shouting angry man comes bangin’ on your door ‘cuz his wife’s havin’ difficulty givin’ birth to their first child and the midwife’s at her wits’ end and then getting up and fetching your bag and going out again…We all do that, in our own way, and she does it better’n me, if I was to put my hand on my heart. That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center!” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32)

Modern culture has done its best to separate humans from the cycles of life. Once inside our homes we can’t tell if it is January or July, night or day.

Pagan Community Notes: Nora Cedarwind Young, Starhawk at Harvard, and More!

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started! An Appreciation of Nora Cedarwind Young: News has come from several sources that Circle Sanctuary Priestess, Death Midwife, chaplain, and Green Burial advocate Nora Cedarwind Young is terminally ill, and isn’t expected to live much longer.

Quick Notes: Thresholds of Life, Satanic Goats, and the Bad Witch Condos

I’m on the road today to visit family, but here’s a few quick notes for you. Thresholds of Life: Over at Patheos.com, Star Foster shares her audio interview with Pagan priestess and Death Midwife Nora Cedarwind Young, recorded at this year’s Pagan Spirit Gathering. “Before Pagan Spirit Gathering I had never heard of a death-midwife but it makes perfect sense. Midwives were healers of body and spirit, they guided people through the transition of birth, death and even marriage by matchmaking. While birth midwives have been making a comeback since the 1970’s, midwives who help families with the transition of death are still uncommon. Along with sharing her stories and thoughts about PSG, Nora Cedarwind Young told us about death-midwives: what they do and how she became one.”