Death (the energetic, not the physical kind) is a funny thing. We resist and so often fight whatever the ego is holding on to - even though we're not always conscious to what the hell we're actually letting go of.
I've been in a funk these last weeks, but I know the feeling well: Its when something is drawing me deep in to myself and I just want to cocoon. I have no idea what's up or down, where I'm going, or what I'm doing. I don't feel hopeless, just... stalled, as if I'm in Void. Since it feels uncomfortable I fight it and try to push it away, but I know better. I've been here many times before.
Sitting in my garden, I reminded of a powerful death experience I had years ago at Machu Picchu:
John & I were spending several weeks in the Amazon and Peru as we do every year. We had hiked Wayna Picchu mountain, the famous peak you see in the background photos of Machu Picchu. After a 1,200 foot ascent to the top, we made the decision to make harrowing descent down the back side of the peak to where lesser known ruins lay, scaling down cliffs and rickety old bamboo ladders harnessed with fraying rope.
We were the only people there. Following my own inner compass, I was drawn down a path and led to an old stone temple, a cave dug in to the hill. It was overgrown, but I pushed the vines aside and walked in without a thought (ah, the lessons of entitlement I was still having to learn). I knew enough to make an offering inside with some flowers, then felt the urge to lean my chest and forehead against the cave wall. I hastily said, "I don't know why I'm here or what I need, but I'm ready for change. Is anyone here to help me?"
With total clarity I heard a strong masculine voice, "We receive your offering. We will help you, come to the middle".
When I turned around, I saw a circle on the dirt floor of the cave I had not noticed before. I cautiously stepped inside of it, and then I heard the ancestors say, "We are giving you a gift".
My ego surged and thought "oh this will be great!"..... but the next thing I knew, I felt stabbing pains in my chest and had an overwhelming vision of being stabbed all over my body with knives. It was gory and intense and I began to sweat and my heart raced. I was terrified wondering what evil curse I had just brought upon myself stepping into this ancient temple that was off the beaten path, and yet another part of me was intrigued and frozen in place.
As the stabbings ended, I saw my (energetic) body die and fall away from my physical body onto the ground. It lay there bloodied, and was absorbed through the cave floor like quicksand.
"Holy shit" was pretty much all I could say.
"This death was our gift of love to you" they said, and it was over.
As I exited the cave (I certainly didn't want to hang out to learn what other "gifts" they may had for me).... I took a few steps back toward the path where John was, my eyes wide open looking like a deer in headlights. As I walked towards him, at my feet I suddenly saw a large and intact snake skin laying on the path in front of me. "Take it as a reminder" the ancestors whispered again. It was a symbol of the skin I had shed in that cave, their last departing gift.
That snake sat in my mesa (medicine bag) for years as a reminder of the power of death and letting go what no longer serves us.
Just as I came out of this memory sitting in my garden, two huge California condors flew within a few feet of my head. Condors in Andean cosmology are a powerful totem that can feast on what is dead within us. As they flew past me, I felt an enormous rush of energy go through me, and felt them carrying away whatever part of me was again dying. I silently thanked them, and they flew off towards the sun.
Without Death we cannot have Re-birth.
Without Re-birth we cannot have Growth.
If we can accept that repeated death is an inevitable part of our growth and path of ascension, we can learn to embrace the quiet void of change and withdraw into the stillness, until such time we're ready to emerge transformed and welcome in whatever new is awaiting us.
And until that happens, there is only trust that we are being held in the darkness.
ps. To understand this cycle, I encourage you to read my full experience of Death, Re-Birth and Growth that occurred on my first trip to the Amazon Jungle