Death (it being Samhain)

“Denial of death is the route of all evil.” New Scientist, 20th October 2012. Possibly they meant ‘root’. It’s a good time of year for thinking about death, and the place of death in our lives. I read this observation a week ago and have been mulling it, on and off, ever since. The article in question argued in part that death-avoidance underpins much of our cultural achievement – agriculture, medicine, clothing, architecture, it all comes down to trying not to die. But as we extend life ever beyond our scope to make much use of it, is this a fair observation?

Thinking we are immortal can certainly encourage us as individuals to behave in bloody stupid ways that may well result in our becoming dead sooner rather than later. Interestingly though, the same article suggested that a higher awareness of death changes how we behave. Death consciousness leads to more interest in spiritual and personal growth, relationships and a life well led. Death consciousness takes us away from selfish and greedy behaviour. Arguably then, the hiding and avoiding of death so normal in western civilization, feeds collective greed and materialism.

With my quiet revolution hat on (it’s got very small bells on it) this excites me. I’ve been looking for a long time for the point at which to apply myself. Being one, small, finite and not going to live forever sort of person I’ve been aware that my scope for causing international change has never been good. Especially given my unwillingness to either enter politics or start killing people. But I can talk about death. I can spread death consciousness, and I can do it in good ways.

This may in fact, be what I am here for. That may sound arrogant, but bear with me. You see, pretty much as soon as I was able to talk, I started asking awkward questions about death. Maybe I was born death conscious. I carry a keen sense of the fleeting nature of all things, my own self included. Add in my weakness for all things gothic and my fondness for storytelling, and Tom’s dark and moody art and you may see where I’m headed.

Tell stories about death. More importantly, tell stories about death that put life into a meaningful sort of perspective, moving people from the material greed towards the good stuff. I have my calling. I feel like I have a clear sense of direction for the first time in more than a decade. Dead things, and extra teeth. Stories with malice of forethought. Revolution.

Anyone who has not wandered over to the gothic side of my life, www.hopelessmaine.com is out there waiting for you. Take a moment for the dead people today. They have a lot to teach you about the bit that comes before being dead, and how not to waste it.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Death (it being Samhain)

  • Jan

    What a great post. I couldn’t agree more – I often think fear of death drives so much of what is wrong with us a species. It seems that as lifespans extend, the less we do with our allotted time. It’s time for a new maturity, when it comes to facing up to our own mortality. Count me as a fellow (quiet) revolutionary. 🙂

  • Alex Jones

    I read a Daily Mail online article recently with excellent and graphic photographs of a zebra being caught and drowned by crocodiles. Amongst the many inane jokes of the Daily Mail commentators to the story was a lot of complaints about the Daily Mail showing such a story. I shook my head in despair. Firstly, being adults these Daily Mail readers had a choice to read such an article. Secondly, this sort of life-death struggle goes on in nature all the time, and it appears all these readers wanted to read about was cute kittens dressed up like human beings, whilst happy to watch Rambo and Saw movies on television. Reality sucks for such people.

    If you read my blogs, I am a fan of nature, so the messages in many of my blogs has a nature focus. Death is a large part of nature, and I write about that too, but sometimes I will coat words in sugar to dull the edge. People can only cope with so much hard reality.

    Amongst the ancient Celts it is said there were three types of Druid. The Ovate was a student-Druid. After training the Ovate had a choice – Bard or Priest. You would have chosen Bard for you are using words and stories to move people.

    Whenever I sink my teeth into the archaeology, stories and customs of the ancient Celts I come up against an unpleasant, heavy and dark sensation, where for a brief few moments I see with the eyes of the ancient Celt. It is so far from our modern world view that it scares me. I reckon that would be quite something to replicate into a story.

  • Alex Jones

    Can I order your Druid book via my local independent bookshop in Colchester rather than Amazon?

  • gfenton

    Interesting article.

    I’ve noticed that I am becoming more interested in my own mortality lately. I’ve always been aware of it – 17 years as a seafarers without being able to swim, riding motorcycles and horses, jaywalking in New York and other high risk activities. I am very aware that I am now less than 2 years younger than the age at which my birth father (whom I never met) died of a heart attack.

    I had surgery last week, and before that, actually went to the trouble of having “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on my shoulder.

    I think that the concept of just simply ceasing to exist is such a difficult concept for a cognizant being such as humankind is just so difficult to grasp that our ancestors had to cling to the hope of an afterlife. Hence religions developed.

    I tend to the view that who I am, my “soul” for want of a better word, is nothing more than the result of random potassium ions drifting in and out of equally random brain cells, and that once the brain stops working I, as an identifiable entity, will cease to exist. However, there is no evidence either way. Like everyone else, I shall have to wait and see.

    I do, however, believe that we live on as long as we remain within the memories of those who survive us.

  • Ivameep

    So! I am back at it again, and what better place to start than to re-cap on all the wonderful blogs I missed out on during this chaotic period. We are all connected somehow, last night was probably the most difficult I’ve had to face… and reading this after the death-stare competition I had with death last night reassures me in so many ways. The question I kept asking myself was, “Why am I so focused on death?” and again you gave me clarity on that.

    So here’s to endless thoughts of death in ways that may push us to create, live and love the life within everyone and everything.

    To (as you so expertly phrased it) Death Consciousness.

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