On May 15, 2016 my mentor and dear friend thea Gaia, formerly known as Dorothy Ivy Whacker, left her body in this world and went dancing her way over the rainbow.
Although it was a time of intensity for those of us attending in her last days, it has not been a time of sadness. Death has a way of showing up when the time is right, even if it doesn’t make sense. thea is, was and continues to be a light in the reality of feminine mysteries in Australia, and I am reminded often of the things she represented in this world. As she said to me “I will always be here” and so far, I’ve found that to be true.
I have never enjoyed the attending of funerals. Not because death saddens me. Actually, it is rare for “death” to make me sad. It is the response of others that makes me sad. The pretending and the appropriateness and the guilt and wishing for a different outcome. That shit is sad.
So I don’t usually make much effort to be involved with death. I do my own small ceremonies when people pass. I sing and drum my prayers. I play with flowers. I make my own way to let go. It’s celebration of life and ceremony for death. The thing with thea’s death and the ceremonies and celebrations that surrounded it, was that it wasn’t like the usual culturally suppressed rites we have in the West. It was something entirely different.
thea’s life is a quilt of beautiful and courageous stories. She was a inspiration to women and men, and deeply loved by her blood family. thea was a communicator. She could draw a story from anyone. She was fierce and passionate and driven by the many questions that burned within her, right up until she passed over. I have learned many things from her, and share wisdoms from her in my circles often. Today I’m writing about what she taught me about death.
thea knew she had entered the final stage of her life, that which she called the Moon Crone. She spent a lot of time in stillness; reflecting and contemplating. By thea being thea, she reminded me that nothing matters except Being right where you are, right now.
In the last weeks of thea’s life she and I worked shamanically with the rainbow, with the trees, with the rivers. I wrote about some of that here. By thea being thea, she showed me that we don’t have to have answers for everything. Some things just are, because they are.
In the time of her final transition, thea was surrounded by women who loved her. We sang and cooed and held her. I drummed. We told stories. By thea being thea, she brought the women together, again and again.
When thea died the women met in her room, washed and dressed her. Sang again. By thea being thea, she made the details matter, as much as the bigger picture.
We were able to hold a small “viewing” for thea. The women dressed her in ceremonial clothes. We sang and I drummed. Each person visited with thea’s body and gave thanks. I touched her cold hand. By thea being thea, she informed us that, at the end, gratitude is what matters most.
thea’s body was taken to her family and returned to her beloved Mama Earth. She was buried in a coffin decorated with a great tree. She was covered in flowers that we had placed at the viewing. By thea being thea, she communicated the goodbye as power-full and authentic as her very first hello.
A celebration was held in Canberra so that everyone who knew thea could come together. A perfectly executed ceremony included Circle, Stories, Dancing, Photos and Food. By thea being thea, she lit up the world.
The support and celebration of thea’s life, has birthed a new movement in my own attention. It is something I have thought of everyday since she died.
It is in the way we write our own living, that we write our own death.
Blessed Be dear thea. Maia Nie Heya.
You can listen to a podcast with thea Gaia and Tricia Szirom from Gaia’s Garden here >>>
You can read about thea’s story in Douglas Ezzy’s book Practising the Witch’s Craft
You can read an obituary of thea’s amazing life by someone who knew her since the 50s and worked with her in Women’s Mysteries here >>>
You can see photos and stories of thea on Instagram or Facebook at #theagaia
May your days be gentle and full of gratitude,
The article Death done well was published by Hollie B., for the Institute for Self Crafting.
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