Death is in the air

Claire Milne

11th May 2023

I am writing this from the pacific coast of Costa Rica surrounded by the wild others in extremis as I grieve my dear dear friend Eve who passed just a few days ago after decades of being very unwell with cancer.

Eve was (and remains) one of my very closest friends - our daily lives so entangled, my go-to in times of need. She was and remains the epitome of expanding more and more towards unconditional love in action. The rich tapestry of beautiful friends that wove themselves around her before and during her passing is testament to the Love, generosity of heart and grace she shone as in every moment - despite just how much pain and suffering she was in for so many years. 

It feels like a stretch to be with anything else right now. The hot sweaty excitable thrum that is Costa Rica is but a backdrop to my constant flow of communication with her other beloveds back home. All of us uniting in our Love for this exquisite human being - and in our deep relief that she is no longer suffering as she transitions into more peaceful realms.

I was in the jungle in medicine ceremony when she passed and I am slowly slowly accepting this role of hospicing dear Eve in a dimension other than this fleshy one. Six weeks ago, just before everything escalated with her health, I was also in ceremony, and out of the blue I found a tear-fuelled prayer pour out of me - praying that Eve knows she is free to go, to leave this dimension if that is what she wants and needs. Immediately after this ceremony her journey towards death took a rapid turn, so it came as no surprise to me that I found myself in ceremony again when she left her body. 

Hospicing philanthropy
This particular medicine ceremony, held by three indigenous Peruvian Maestras all in their 80s and 90s (a mother and two daughters) was the culmination of a 10 day gathering exploring how to hospice philanthropy in light of it being a symptom of and perpetuating force for systemic injustice. In its enabling of those with inherited wealth, or those who have succeeded within capitalism, philanthropy and the world of funding fundamentally shapes the direction and politics of social and ecological change work by deciding who gets funding for what and where. And perhaps more importantly, who and what doesn’t get funded.

We were a group of 16 largely radical philanthropists alongside a few of us activists. I was invited in light of our work raising awareness with funders and philanthropists around the urgent need to fund inner-led change work that is expanding consciousness beyond our power-over culture. I had no idea what to expect - and jeez am I steeped in gratitude that I somehow got myself there. I am way too deep in the liminality of grief soup right now to be able to share the depths of what we explored together but suffice to say it has left me pregnant with tremulous excitement in terms of how to bring Starter Culture’s work more potently into the world and in collaboration with those working at both great scale and within the cracks and fissures it is most needed. And within all this is a commitment to plunge myself deeper still into racial justice and healing work and to grow more bountiful ropes of connection beyond our cosy south-Devon bubble. 

I give deep thanks to Alnoor Ladhr and Lynn Murphy who gathered us all and were our guides for this crazy ride. You can find out more about their work as Transition Resource Circle here - and watch this space for more on all this once I emerge out the other side in June.

Listening to Earth's dreaming
In the immediacy of Eve's passing I was blessed to be reunited in the flesh in southern Colorado with my dear friend and Starter Culture collaborator Sara McFarland. Together we dropped into a 3 day vision fast high up in the desert amidst electrical storms, washed out tents, ceremony and prayers, followed by 12 days of Animas Valley Institue apprenticeship trainings with Bill Plotkin. It was a rich and transformational time in the red rock canyons of the southern Ute lands, of exactly the kind of inner-led change we at Starter Culture are embodying and offering. Listening in to the way Earth’s dream, and our own unique dreaming, are born of the same cloth, resonating in the same harmonic scale, preying for us each to find our own particular way of loving this world. Each ancestor, both human and other than human offering their voices to our own song’s homecoming.

Becoming good ancestors
Some say it takes 400 days to transition into the ancestral realms. I hope then, that like me, you will take some solace in knowing that in dear Eve’s passing we are soon to have another wise and well ancestor to dance within the eternal realms. Here's to becoming good ancestors - if ever there were a time this were more needed ...

And watch this space for more on my Costa Rican adventures with Transition Resource Circle exploring healing wealth and hospicing philanthropy.

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