Settle in, grab a steaming beverage and let your familiar snuggle in close.
At the edge of the forest where the children didn’t venture, the teens dared each other to go and the middle age folks pulled their disenfranchised away from, the elders whispered curiously about if it was time. A path, wide enough only for one foot at a time, wound and bumped over roots, curved around stones and creeped through spider webs. And at the end: a witch
Not so long ago that our ancestors don’t remember, living and deathing were different. There were medicine people, there were shaman and noaidi, there were witches. Their social network was on the ground, in the water and in the sky, their education came from trial and error and showed up in forms of intuition betwixt tea leaf reading, reflecting pools, and signs from jumping bones on drums. Their reputation… well, there was a reason they usually lived in remote places.
You did not go to the witch unless you needed something truly powerful, perhaps dangerous, perhaps deadly. You needed the permission of no one, save your own psyche, to walk the dark path, thinking all the while about the journey you were embarking upon and knowing full well, you would never return the same. If you returned at all.
You see, herbal aid-in-dying has been on earth since The Beginning and it has existed in many forms for many reasons. Mugwart, angelica, pennyroyal and so many more have been used for those who were not ready, or did not want to become a mother. Perhaps they feared for their own lives if they were to give birth to a child. Throughout time people have ended their lives on their own terms by ingesting plant poisons, stopping eating and drinking, seppuku or other means.
Fungal-aid-in-dying, psilocybin, has been used for centuries (at least) to help people feel more connected to the oneness of humanity, the animal kingdom, the elements of our earth, the universe and beyond. And, perhaps this medicine changed the feelings and mindset of the one who had previously desired to abort their zygote or end their own life. Perhaps they did not wish to hasten their death in any way because they discovered a new freedom within their living. There is strong magic in thinking differently and abandoning your ego.
In today’s world, the forest has been clearcut, the witch has been burned and in her place is a man with a name-tag and a white coat who stands behind a jury who will decide if you are worthy of the concoctions or procedures to aid the decisions you once were capable of making for yourself. In today’s world, an officer and a judge separate you from what grows naturally in the forest — separates you from that which has the power to dissolve your feelings of loneliness and bring you so far past your fears that you are absorbed into love itself. The Law knows not the life story of each individual but it dictates who has permission to die and who does not, whose life is precious and whose is expendable, regardless of what might be fair, or kind or appropriate.
Government and doctors should not be granted these powers and the people of earth’s village do not need to be further divided. Look a little deeper into your reflecting bowl before you think the debates are about being on one side or another. It’s so much more complicated than that. And remember this: “If you have seen one death you have seen them all.” Said no one, anywhere, ever.
PS. This is a post in support of mental and emotional health, community resources, lost empowerment and yes, psychedelics that heal. #wearethegrandchildrenofthewitchesshamanmedicinepeoplenoaidiyoudidntburn