Meditations on Death

I love this time of year; the dark is rising and Hallowe’en will soon be upon us. And while of course I value all seasons, all the signs of the Zodiac, it’s Scorpio that really does it for me. My birthday falls on November 1st and so this time is always tinged with that childhood expectation. Add to this my love of the occult and especially those elements of esoteric practice that are typically linked with Scorpio (sex, drugs, death and transformation) and you can see why I adore this time.

Pumpkin Tribe

Pumpkin Tribe

I buried one of my cats yesterday (the 25th of October), a suitable seasonal event.

Gozo (as we named him, after the Mediterranean island) had reached a suitable age but, as is commonplace with Felis domesticus, his kidneys were failing fast. For some years he’d actually been living with a friend on the over side of the Torridge valley, but I remembered Gozo as a small and sharp-clawed ball of black and white fur from when he came to live with me during my sojourn in Brighton.

We collected his lifeless form from our friends and I drove him back to my home where my two children waited. Number One son took the whole thing in his stride and was philosophical about Gozo’s age and painless death (he was ‘put to sleep’). Number Two Son needed a little more support to talk things through. At moments like this, when Real Reality bites, we find ourselves having to explain things in simple terms. Sure I’m able to talk to my children about death and we conjecture what may or may not happen. But there, with that silent cat basket in the boot of the car, I needed to help my youngest son with his feelings of sadness and to find some way through in that moment.

Such situations are good for us, they summon forth simple and honest answers and, if we are skillful, they are opportunities to make discoveries for ourselves.

Acknowledging his sadness, and that it was okay to have those emotions, I told my son what I see as the facts. That Gozo’s body was going to be returned to the earth. That in time the molecules and atoms that he was made from will become food for, and then become, other living things; from plants, to birds, to people. I spoke of how for things to live something else must die, that even the molecules that make up all life on earth are the debris of long dead stars.

I spoke of how the story of Gozo would live on in us, in our memories and that the power, the life force he was, like the atoms he was made from, would return to the great sea of life-force energy which animates our planet.

The next day all three of us, but especially Number Two Son, prepared the grave for Gozo. We looked at him, my youngest touched his still soft fur, and we placed him, along with grave goods (a cat bowl made by a friend bearing his name) in the earth. We said thank you to him, and to the life force of the world for bringing us Gozo. We hoped that the bowl would keep him fed in the cat afterlife (which I imagine as the Gozo in our memories). We said goodbye and let him sleep in the ground.

We planted wild garlic over his grave that will blossom in the spring.

The next day me and the kids set fire to a 4ft high silver robot in the garden, full of home-made gun powder, but that, as they say, is another story.

JV

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