Thoughts on Death

I have been asked by a reader for my views on the following subject.

“In the Tibetan teachings there are good exercises to prepare oneself for death, followed also by descriptions of the physical sensations during the process of leaving the body. I have, as yet, not found anything written in the Old Tradition and am wondering whether you know of any long term meditations or rituals. If there is nothing, do you think just substituting Western deities for Tibetan ones would be an acceptable option?”

You will find that there are no formalisations relating to preparation for death. We find this unnecessary as death to us is but a transition to another dimension within The Absolute – a transition which we contemplate each year at Gwedy Haf when the Camanfa Fawr (Great Assembly) is held.  The preamble to the Festival contains the following affirmation:-

“Remember well, O children of time,
That as each tide doth ebb
It sinks not in death,
But floweth to the deep
Ever-living wide sea
To shoreward return
At th'appointed hour.

Lo every passing,
Every returning
Are journeys which measure
The rim of Kylch Abred.              (Wheel of Rebirth)
In each mortal span
Are we burnished upon
The tireless Wheel of Kaer Sidin,
Till our brightness be meet
For the Halls of Kaer Fedwid,
The Ancient Ones' Blessing,
Eternity's Crown.

Yea ALL this is 'Life'!
So on this night - Y Gamanfa Fawr,
The living and dead do not convene;
But by the Pool of Brotherhood
Where meet the streams of 'Time is'
And 'Time is not',
Join the living with the living."

As the Noumena and Protyles are considered as either Rhieni (Parents) or Kedymdeithyon (Kindred) we feel in constant contact with these within all our Ceremonies, knowing them to be as these descriptors suggest.  Even Gwynn ap Nyddwr is as another living personage of the Warband and is the Executor in all aspects of the Cosmic Matriarch. The Taxonomy will reveal some essential analogies which a-tune us even to His role as Psychopompos.

The “We as Deities” concept permits us to always realise that we do not “go home” at the end of incarnate life, as some religions tend to suggest, we are already home, whether in incarnate or discarnate life, within our cosmic locale.  Nevertheless as one may move home from one locus to another within a city, state, country, continent or biosphere, Death could be considered but a change of address within our cosmic/universal environment or, to take this thought ad extremum - within our milieu of a multiverse.

This from the Taxonomy:-

“I feel that this Source-of-All may be visualised as a black sphere, the depth-point of which is everywhere and the perimeter of which is nowhere, denoting infinity.  The Source's attributes, therefore, may be considered in this wise.   The Source is Mother - The Source is Father.  The Source is Me - The Source is You.   The Source is Brother - The Source is Sister.

And in this last statement, this fraternity or sorority applies to any conceivable or inconceivable metaphysical fact, remembering that such a fact is anything that is perceived or experienced - e.g. a cosmos, galactic cluster, micro-organism, migraine, hallucination, belief, phobia or indeed a commom chair.   So, in reality, nothing exists except The Source - The All.  Yes, each of us may say, but only unto ourselves on this one occasion to be remembered, "I and my Parents are One", i.e. in common terms, "I am God."  (Therein lies power.)  Here I concern myself with our immediate Cosmos, eschewing the prevalent modern M theory of Multiverses with the concept of Branes colliding every trillion years to cause a continuum of 'big-bangs'.

It is interesting to note that the final track of a CD by Alice Coltrane called ‘Lord of Lords’ (published 1972) portrays her interpretation of the commonly known spiritual “Going Home”.  The sleeve note referring to this has the following passage which is obviously Tantrik in nature and is indeed close to Keltic concepts  – perhaps the complete album could be termed a Tantrik concept album:-

“A classical composer, Anton Dvorak, heard this music and built it into a concert piece within the context of his “New World Symphony”.  He titled it “Largo”.  One day I asked of the Lord about coming Home at the end of my life.  The Lord said to me, “Turiya, you will not have to come home, you will Be Home. (and 'Be'ness in Tantrism is SAT - my note)  A soul who can be one with the Lord will discover that his true identity is that of a God-like Being, resembling in likeness and appearance, and expressing in the creativity the Majesty and Perfection of his Creator.”

You find a unique interchange in some Festivals when addressing Gwynn, e.g.:-

"A-n bwyr gwar." (Mayest Thou be gentle toward us)
"Ry phrinom-ne di gerenhit." (May we be worthy of Thy friendship.)
“Henpych gwell, a'th ovynn ti yssyd ar baup er meint vo y allu."
(Welcome, though everyone fears Thee, however great his power may be.)

From Y Dychweliad, Gwynn speaks:-

“For 'though 'tis said
I weave Death downward
Through the mould,
Lo She weaveth Life upward
Through all that springeth
“From the fertile earth.
Aye and the sound of this great loom
Is Eternity
And is called in this world 'Time'.

And throughout all,
The Lady weaveth Eternal Beauty
Which passeth not,
Though its soul is naméd 'change'.”

From Gwedy Haf:- (part of an intercession to Gwynn)

Let the opening of The Four Great Portals
Echo a welcome
'cross The River of Death,
The Tides of Birth
That those who were well loved
And journeyed to Thy Realm
And those who wait to don
The heavy cloak of mortality
May meet within this Mighty Hall
As our merry companions.
Yea when Thy horn is heard
At the end of our span,
We will gladly board Thy shadowy Barque
With no fear in our hearts."

So there is a unique rapprochement with every stratum of Divinity that, like the Cosmos or Multiverse, is ongoing in perpetuity and we are constantly aware of the Bellian transmissions of consciousness which are faster than light, as communication (not energy) is the cohesive element between all units of Cosmos, allowing the whole array to function as one unit.

One should take a close look at death via severe myocardial infarction, a fatal CVA due to haemorrhage or embolism and indeed a pulmonary embolism which is heralded by an immediate sensation that one must evacuate the descending colon. After the immediate trauma & the relevant swift preoccupying sensation – curtains!  Kaput! In all of these, one has no time to glide consciously through the Gate of Death.

In many protracted illnesses, death is usually uneventful as a coma has previously intervened.  Beyond the boundaries of the major and sudden causes of death or lengthy comatose states, there are admittedly some which could fit perfectly into a Hollywood drama, with nearest and dearest in a semi-circle around the bed for an hour or two until the last breath and flicker of eye is caught on camera.

However I feel the concept of savouring the minutiae of the process of death to be somewhat morbid for me. I must take a look at the Tibetan text, though, as a matter of interest. I’ve always meant to purchase the Tibetan Book of the Dead but have never done so. Perhaps now at the age of 79 I should consider these things, as there is indeed many similarities twixt Keltic philosophy and Tantrik or Naga concepts.

Whether one may substitute the names of Keltic Deities for Tibetan Ones is a moot point, as here one has to involve oneself with the universality of myth and, although the Law of Analogy may possibly be applied, the results will depend on the similarity or the lack of similarity between the God-forms of the Himalayas, spurred to life with meditation, mandala and mantra, and Those of the Welsh Warband fanned by raw elemental emotions that surged during warlike excursions from the walled hill-fort of Kaer Dathyl atop Pen y Gaer.

Ah well, let us live a little until then and remember my favourite maxim:-

"Post molestiam senectutis, nos habebit humus -

After the ravages of old age, the ground will have us -

Death, where is thy sting?

So, as Crowley said, “Enough of ‘because’, be he damned for a dog!”

copyright © Gareth Pengwerin November 10th 2012