As we enjoyed our first wild blackberry feast on the Solstice, I smiled remembering how our beloved Pablo loved eating them with me, straight off the vines. Never mind those briars: dig your face right on in.
A huge heart housed in sheer force, Pablo had resonance with the wounded warrior archetype. When I adopted him, he had many scars on his legs and feet. Pain never stopped him. He reinjured himself often; the wounds would reopen and bleed. He would have (and may have) died to protect us. Threats come in physical and non-physical forms.
We planted yarrow, Achillea millefolium, on his grave. Named to commemorate the hero Achilles, it felt like the right medicine to continue healing these wounds. Yes, even post-death, Pablo’s body is being tended by the living plant and his spirit by the spirit of yarrow. The yarrow we planted on his grave is thriving beyond our expectations. The alchemy of Pablo and yarrow spirit will indeed make some good medicine for the living.
However, the sour cherry tree we planted on his gravesite is struggling. Last week, Jonathan heard the message: plant fruit that he loved. He loved sweet cherries, not these little sour ones. And, the Solstice grazing reminded me of his love of blackberries. A timely nudge as we consider a new planting. Why not offer the remaining life energy in our bodies to nourish or become what we loved?
Pablo rarely came when called by name, but he’d come running for milk. Almost two years later, we still sometimes we take milk offerings to his grave and call “milk!” Every time we do, I feel his spirit running towards us, his beloved presence, his huge heart and even his velveteen coat against my cheek.
The dead aren’t gone. They’ve undergone a massive transformation. As multi-dimensional beings, once the body dies, the soul that lives in the body continues on in the earth. Freed from the body, the soul(s) can continue in a variety of ways.
As we vision the ways forward with the Ancestral Grove at Heartward Sanctuary, we continue our exploration of relationship with those who have crossed the threshold of death as well as our complex relationship with the earth, soil and our plant kin. We remain curious what our bodies can nourish for people a century from now. At the moment, medicinal plants and fruit trees feel like a precious gift to future generations, of all species.
Written by Julia Hartsell