Phantom Death - Lessons of Goddess Badb
image - Helen Warner
There were two important and deeply personal spiritual mysteries that remained on the tip of my minds' eye this year. One was heard, a whisper on the wind, "to crown yourself in roses," the other was felt, an internal chaos that wrecked havoc within and was only later understood; the phantom death. Both were elusive, like the strands of red thread woven together by the Norns, sisters to the Goddesses of the Underworld. It felt as though the Nordic Goddess Hel sipped tea with my matron, the Celtic Goddess Badb, and poison overflowed in the bowls of their daughters, their priestesses, but all the while they held themselves open, arms outstretched, holding each others' poison bowl to drain out the pain and allow the wounds to heal. I would not still be here, breathing the free air, without Cris, daughter of Hel. There are others too, sisters and brothers, before unknown and known, who heard the deep call that rose up from the earth as I fell to it, breaking, sobbing, the toxin in my veins that had been injected by another, causing tremors and trembling.
"And it was in my time of dying I realised I was not alone.My heart was drained and hurting and hope was gifted by an extended ecosystem of witches, magick makers, silent watchers and healers. I had felt completely isolated but when I broke a thousand hands caught me.Humbled, teary, and eternally grateful I realised I was part of something deeper and more widespread than I had imagined. It opened a door in my dying, and I will never be the same." - Joey Morris 2018
At the time, I was ashamed, embarrassed to have been weakened by another, angry at so much more than just being cheated on, mocked, and terrified as the threats of homeless rang around a promised Eden which in reality was a smoke choked dystopia; every promise dishonest. I was drained and I blamed myself.
I should have known better, should have seen it, should have listened to the outcries of other people, of my gut; but I didn't, I listened to the rationalizations, the excuses, the bullshit for far too long; and my rage had been simmering, and twice I had felt the phantom death wash over me, seeing my body make manifest what was happening in all other ways.
My body grew colder so that no warmth could be found, and would tremble and shake, I would vomit over and over again, sobbing in the bathroom, ignored and unattended, my eyes were swollen with the pain and every joint ached, my mind clouded and functioning seemed impossible... twice I underwent this. Twice I experienced what I now know to be the phantom death.
They call it symptomatic of something you are not experiencing in bodily fact but instead your mind makes it real; and Badb showed me just how literal phantom experiences could be. I purged and purged the poison from mind, heart, and soul, and eventually bitter bile would turn to freedom, as respite came and a thousand heads turned to listen, and hands to help and heal, and words to soothe and the powerful affirmation came over and over and over;
I believe you.
I had been told people would not listen, people would not care, and here they were, a final nail in the coffin of those lies, stapling lying tongue to the wall for all to see.
I was reborn.
The community had gifted hope at the bottom of the pandoras' box I had found myself trapped within, and beyond all the cruelties and evils of the world, there they stood, thousands of arms outstretched, and I passed through the gates, and I was free. My heart still aches and sadness clings, because I am human, and the situation hurt. My tears were not greeted with mockery to any but a cruel few, instead they were honoured, as the pain was raw, worn plain to see, and people knew what I had been carrying for far too long. Shining examples of decent honest women stood shoulder to shoulder to hold me up and banish my mothers words, saying that all women could not be trusted, all women would take your lovers and cheat and crow about what they had "gotten" and "won" from you... but no, the majority, the majority of women were here, resilient and kind, offering strength and comfort, and a new way to be...
I was remade by the honour in the community. The love. I was rebirthed from pain and anguish into freedom. The knot in my stomach unfurled after more than a year, my face began to drop the stress it had been holding, everything felt lighter...
And so it was I was crowned with roses. Not by myself but by everyone who showed up to my phantom funeral and placed a rose upon my head, in love and kindness, and told me, you are loved. And so I stumbled, crawled and clawed, snatching personal sovereignty from the jaws of defeat, and sobbing, hurting, but resolved, I was reborn again.
- Joey Morris All my own work all rights reserved