The Holy Well of Grief
A few nights ago I woke up with a deep ache in my chest. A dream I was still floating in had drawn to the surface old stories, experiences, and feelings from childhood. An original wound of not feeling like I mattered rising to meet my present self. I felt so angry and left out.
Upon waking I turned back toward the dreamscape, seeking, hunting, intentionally magnifying aspects of the dream's intricacies to explore in my feeling body. I knew there was something important here.
And when I finally landed in it, the flood of emotion poured in.
The grief that howled out of me was ancient. And traced back to not only my childhood, but the deep pain of this physical world, and all that comes with being embodied on and with this Earth.
I had taken Aralia califonica before bed. She generally helps guide me into her watery realms and invite in calming sleep. Yet she can be fierce when she wants to be.
When I first met her spirit, over 10 years ago sitting in circle with the School of Forest Medicine, she rocked me. In the most loving and gentle way, her power was non-negotiable. She told me she was going to open wounds within me that I still held onto, deep under the surface. Wounds from childhood where I’d been rejected, hurt, abandoned, or betrayed.
I still remember the tender yet feral way she went into different areas of my body, in her command I felt both trust and awe, my emotional body at her whim. She surfaced some very old memories for me that night, fiercely gashing open wounds in my energetic & emotional body to let them release. She created space for me to hold my inner child within while I integrated the pain, and invited me to fill myself into these empty spaces from the inside out.
As I emerged from my dream the other night, her spirit came forward, and I knew this emotional surfacing was sponsored by her. I spent a good hour being with my pain, my emotional waves, and holding my young self.
It was 4am, right in the center of Lung’s reign on the Chinese Medicine Organ Body Clock (3-5am). The lungs, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, are associated with grief. And it is not uncommon during this time of night that the lungs process stuck or old grief.
It is also of note that Autumn, the season we entered into days ago, is guided by the element of Water in my ancestral, animistic, pagan tradition. Autumn guides us back to our own inner wells, to refill, reflect, and renew. And also to surrender to any grief that may be lingering, unprocessed from the past year. An offering back to the Earth and the spirit world.
As I cried and processed my old wounding, my body felt lighter and lighter. My back, that had been aching for days, felt relieved. My chest opened and my breath deepened.
Grief's power is like that of a torrential rain. Often onsets without warning, and passes through unabashedly, clearing and cleansing the heavy air. And afterwards, a calm, soft spaciousness emerges. After a flood of grief I generally feel more present, grounded, and embodied.
When we let the Holy Well of Grief move through us, we are transformed. We are cleansed. We are more open and available to meet our life with more presence.
I received a bodywork session from my office mate and fellow Priestess, Becca Ellis King, the morning following the dream. As she had her hands on my body, she received a vision of me standing at a holy saltwater well, at a threshold place between field and forest. I was holding sections of my DNA, unzipping them, finding the patterns in need of healing, and offering them to the well to be purified and transformed.
If we can walk towards this Holy Well when we notice the signs of an emotion rising, if we can lean into the experience of grief that's surfacing to be witnessed, if we can offer our pain up to the Holy Well, we can be healed, purified, and utterly transformed by this power of Water.
Autumn’s medicine is rich and deep. And when we lean in, so much healing can happen.
May this Autumn bring you the gift of drinking deep from your sacred well, to replenish yourself, to remind you of the gift of your own watery realms, the grief that lives there, and how holy it is to call forth its prayer.
Explore the medicine of Autumn and Water in the Sacred Seasons Guidebook
Learn more about Plant Spirit Medicine in the upcoming 6 week program, Call Into Darkness