Transformation thru Rites of Passage
On Monday March 16th my dear friend Barbara Molloy passed out of her body and was born to a new life in Spirit. She was a woman of great clarity, conviction, grace, love and deep otherworldly connection. Her mantra is that “We are One”. In life and beyond, she is dedicated to working as a bridge; connecting and healing beings across species and worlds.
I feel that Barbara modeled a way of living and dying with sacred intent that deserves to be shared. She was the third person in VT to benefit from The Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act (Act 39) which provides Vermont residents with terminal disease the option to be prescribed a dose of medication to hasten the end of their life. This Act was signed into law on May 20, 2013.
I had the honor of being with her at the time of her final crossing as well as co-creating several passages for her since we met in 2006.
The importance of Rites of Passage
We all go thru changes in our lives. Some of these are predictable such as first menses, marriage, motherhood and menapause. Some are not, like cancer. Rites of Passage are a way of bringing sacred intent, support and blessing to the inevitable changes of life and death. They connect us to the greater circle of community, spirits and ancestors. We remember that we are not alone and that we do not have to figure it all out for ourselves. Change is rarely easy. In some indigenous cultures, adolescents would have to undergo life threatening quests in order to be deemed worthy of initiation into adulthood. Challenge hones us, strengthens us, forces us to break out of our comfort zone and to expand into our true potential. It takes us to the next level of our quest. It is a one way gateway thru which we may not return.
I will now describe the progression of Rites of Passage that transformed Barbara to Briga, with a focus on the recent events that led up to and followed her crossing.
In 2007 we held a Croning Ceremony to mark Barbara’s shift into her post menopausal elder years. In sacred space we honored her, offered blessings, and gifted her with a handmade staff. We listened as she spoke from her crones’ throne of wisdom and power.
In 2010 at the completion of the three year Druid Training, Barbara journeyed in pilgrimage with her clan and teachers to the Uk and was initiated as a Druid Priestess in Stonehenge where she made her vows to Gaia, in Marriage to the Earth.
In 2011 we gathered again for Barbara’s Breast Blessing. This was a women’s ceremony to prepare Barbara for her mastectomy. It involved massaging, singing, toning, body painting, and topless dancing in celebration of the power and beauty of all our breasts.
Awakening Briga- Barbara turned 64 on Feb. 25th, 2015. On March 1st, a close circle of her Druid family gathered at her home to feast, love and support Barbara in this final stage of her earth life. Barbara had been given a spirit name; Briga Brigante, and this was her time to awaken and claim this name and a new level of her being. We toned he spirit name, honored her life and transformation, and gave her a chance to forgive any with whom she had unfinished business. A henna artist adorned each of us with a Brighid’s Cross to connect us to B and her crossing. This was also the time that the larger Faery Seership community around the country was activated on her behalf to work magically to unbind her from her life and body.
Opening the Way- March 13-15 with Orion Foxwood and “The Sexy Six”. Orion is a dear friend, Faery teacher and Witch priest. B wanted him with her at the time of her crossing so flew him in for the weekend. Orion and a small group of her Druid family spent the weekend involved in several magical workings around Barbara/Briga, her outdoor alter and her bedroom. This included cutting ties, healing work, opening the Western Gate, calling the ancestors and threshold spirits, opening to the underworld, and chanting. Many of these practises are specific to our path and cannot be shared in detail here. This time also included delicious catered meals, visits by family and friends, laughter, cuddles, tears and deep conversation.
Crossing- Barbara preferred to leave her body naturally but she had so much life force that it just wasn’t happening in the desired time frame (!), despite all our best efforts to support her spiritually. Monday morning came and she said, Im done!. She was ready to accept medical support in dying. B had the drug on hand, having already gone thru the full legal and medical process of procuring it. We made final arrangements and then gathered in sacred circle to empty the 90 capsules into a chalice together. B mixed the powder in water and Orion blessed it. A final puppy pile photo shoot took place on her couch and then we followed Barbara into her bedroom. We cuddled around her in her bed as she drank the liquid. We toned and sang as she closed her eyes and leaned back into her brother’s arms. Within 10 minutes of drinking she passed thru the veil. Her crossing was incredibly peaceful, gentle and beautiful. We were all in awe and felt deeply moved to be so close to her process.
Preparing her body- Four women prepared Barbara’s body for her 3 day home wake within an hour of her crossing. It was important to do this before rigor mortis set in. This was a very loving, intimate and ancient process enacted while the soothing sounds of celtic harp music played. Together we undressed her, sponge bathed and rubbed her body with herbal oils, and plugged her orifices with lavender soaked gauze. She was dressed in her best cat print and her purple robe. Her hair and make up was done as she requested. One of the women was a medium who was receiving feedback, comments and direction from B throughout. This was at times humorous and brought levity to the process. I had ordered dry ice, which was delivered to the door and poured into the bottom of her hand made pine box, then covered with layers of plastic and blankets. B was carried into the parlor and laid in her pine box draped with purple cloths. She looked magnificent!
Three day wakes are a cross cultural tradition that have been all but lost in this country. I think this is because death brings up a lot of strong feelings in many of us and so we do our best to push it away, to avoid it, deny it and hide it. So often now this process is handled by funeral homes who have no connection to the deceased.
We believe that the spirit needs time to transition from its earthly body, life, home and loved ones, and that those who live on also need time to say good bye.
Barbara opted for a home style wake and funeral. There was a rotation of Druids holding space with her 24/7 for all three days plus two visiting times each day for B’s friends and colleagues. Her brother and sister in law hosted these visitors with open hearts.
To our great surprise the dry ice evaporated in less than 24 hrs and we could not get more delivered in time. Luckily B has a lovely screen porch and the temps were still well below freezing. We transferred her out there for the remaining two days. It was her favorite place to sleep in the summer as it looks out to her yard which is always filled with birds, her beloved Burr Oak Sanctuary and her stone altar.
On Thursday, March 19th, Ivan and I led a Funeral Ceremony for about 50 people representing several different parts of her life. We huddled around her one last time in her parlor. We created sacred space, invoked her gods; Brighid and Pan, shared stories, laughter, and tears. We sang to her and covered her with Hyacinth flowers, and toned her spirit name. Briga Brigante was with us and she was full of love and gratitude. Some of those attending did not know much of her spiritual life so i let her out of the broom closet! It seemed well received. We got great feedback and lots of heart felt thanks for our part in her ceremony and her life. Afterward we shared food, and a few strong folk covered her box and carried her into the car to be taken to the crematorium. It was the last day of winter.
There will be a Memorial Fire Ceremony for Briga at Dreamland during our annual Druid Camp on Friday July 31st at 8pm. It will be open to our extended Druid community as well as friends and family of Barbara. This will be a time of remembrance and celebration of her life and work with storytelling, songs and fireworks! Some of her ashes will be offered to Dreamland.
I thank you Briga for your love, generosity, friendship and for modeling such grace, fierceness and clarity in life and beyond. It has been an honor and a gift to hold space and co create the many sacred passages of your transformation.
WE ARE ONE!
We behold you beautiful One
We behold you child of the Earth and Sun
Let our love wash over you
Let our love wash over you.
Let our love wash over you.