Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

Musings & Meanderings: Transitions & the “Third Art”

in Death & Dying, Musings & Meanderings

Kwan Yin, photo by Megan Guppy

Kwan Yin, photo by Megan GuppyI won’t deny it, it’s been a rough week. Last Friday my friend Megan passed away. She was only 42 years old. She had suffered for years with scleroderma, and it finally took her life. We all knew Lady Death was coming for her, but that doesn’t make it any less hard to bear. Our friend Nora was with her the day before she died, acting as a death midwife, holding the space and opening the door for Megan. I was grateful that Nora told me that Megan smiled when she heard I had a candle going for her and was holding vigil. I’m very grateful that I had a small part last year helping Megan make peace with her dying process, through conversations that came about as she worked her way through my Hallowmas e-course. And I love it that the very last photo Megan posted on her Instagram feed was of an altar to Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.

Blessed be, Megan. You are so, so loved.

heron windowOn Sunday I went out to the island to work in my herb garden, and experienced fresh waves of grief and loss. The herb garden has not been well tended because our tenants put most of their efforts into their vegetable garden (understandable). I’m not angry with them, I’m just sad because I put my heart and soul into that garden, and it looks to me like it all needs to go to compost. I pulled out a dying rosemary bush and a dead sage plant — both grown waist high, and bent over and killed by winter snows, I think. I remember planting both of them as little seedlings. On the other hand, the sweetgrass is flourishing, as is the comfrey.  Sweetgrass the blessing herb, comfrey the healing herb. There is still blessed healing to be found at Heron House.

Craig has been out there all week, working on the house to get it ready to sell. He is feeling the lure of the island’s siren song too, and feeling the tug on the heartstrings from this beautiful house we designed and built ourselves. He texted me a photo of the stained glass window I designed and made so many years ago, from the outside looking in. It graces the front door of our house. Island living is not for everyone; what makes it difficult is also what makes it so very special. Lummi Island is a magical place. It’s where I created the Gaian Tarot. And our home there is unique, a straw bale house filled with our personal touches. Whoever lives there next will be blessed indeed.

mock orangeTuesday was the 24th anniversary of my son Jake’s death. I wrote about it here on the blog ten years ago. Nothing has really changed since I wrote that post. I still feel the same way.

I loved what Carolyn Cushing wrote about the “third art” in the comments on last week’s Musings & Meanderings post:

I am captivated by this idea of /term for facilitating retreats (in-person and on-line) as a “third art.”

There is a term, that may come from sociology, of the third space. This is the space that helps you make a transition.

So leading retreats as a third art is about creating a transition space and, depending on the how and the who, this transition space can be a support for the transformation of participants.

When you practice the third art, you follow the cycle of the moon. You form the idea in the generative dark of the new moon, then start to make it. There’s lots we don’t see because it is only being carried on a crescent.

But then you are building the infrastructure and spreading the word as the moon is growing larger. When the moon is full, you share your piece, your light, your reflection of the sun; that’s your teaching.

But then because you create communities as much as teach, you begin to withdraw. The moon grows smaller.

When the moon is new again, we, the participants, have to look inside to find our own light. We start to share it with each other and the moon grows fat again.

We like to be in the full moon light (hey, I like my sparks to be acknowledged) but we are none of us the sun. The Sun may be the Divine, the Goddess, or maybe it is all of our lights combined.

So beautifully said, Carolyn. I’m looking forward to practicing the third art this Saturday with a lovely group of women here in beautiful Bellingham.

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • megan Fri - Apr 11th 2014 9:58 am


    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Apr 11th 2014 1:35 pm

      And love back to you, Megan, and peace and blessings too.

  • Arwen Fri - Apr 11th 2014 12:01 pm

    I love that instagram photo you shared. The way the light is coming in on the left looks so peaceful and inviting.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Apr 11th 2014 12:08 pm

      🙂 Megan took that photo. xo

  • clymela singing sparrow box Fri - Apr 11th 2014 12:11 pm

    Dear One, Thank you from a deep,deep part of my heart/soul. I have been journeying through grief and wonder for a few weeks now.
    My sister passed from this level close to three years ago. She was the last one of my family-two parents and two daughters and one grandpa and one dog and I am now in Jung’s third part of life-67 in May. I have been knocked steady from my perch of assurance-death DEATH! I thought I understood, was prepared. HA! I say now.
    Even though my beloved sister has cycled on still I believe that she is acting as teacher/sister/friend helping me to realize how much life there remains for me to take in and to live knowing that I will exit kissing our mother’s hand.
    Love to you for reaching me where I have been living of late. I send you love and light.
    I didn’t write this for publishing but if you want to you may. I just wanted you to know that your words and thoughts touched me so deeply.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Apr 11th 2014 1:36 pm

      You are welcome, Clymela. Lady Death is quite the teacher, isn’t she. We would often just bypass her gifts, and yet her gifts are precious and potent.

  • latisha Fri - Apr 11th 2014 1:10 pm

    This brought me to tears. I am so grateful to know you.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Fri - Apr 11th 2014 1:37 pm

      I’m grateful to know you too. And I really do love spending time with your girls.

  • Jana Jopson Sun - Apr 13th 2014 4:04 pm

    Dear Joanna, I am sorry for your loss of this dear friend. I remember the photo of the handmade and hand painted coffin. All of the posts about this precious woman whom I don’t even know … have inspired and comforted me. Comfort and blessings to you.

    • Joanna Powell Colbert Sun - Apr 13th 2014 4:35 pm

      Thank you Jana. Actually this was a different person who died. My friend Nora is the one you are thinking of. She is still alive and very much with us. In fact she was with Megan the day before she (Megan) died. Hugs & Blessings.