It’s about a young man who surrendered his life on our land, here at my home in Scotland in August last year. It was an incredibly busy time as I was in the thick of preparing for my TEDx talk and a 3 Day Women’s Retreat at Findhorn.
Although on the surface of it this extraordinary event was nothing to do with me, at a deeper level, the impact, timing and circumstances of it, made it really hard to ignore.
Being sensitive to the interconnectedness of everything, I could feel that this man’s curious death was a sign to me of something very important that I needed to pay attention to.
Polish mushroom pickers had strayed onto our land one Sunday morning, looking for rare fungi to sell to local restaurants. They clearly hadn’t bargained for what they’d find.
I was just popping out to my car to get something, when the mushroom pickers (two men and a woman) appeared from the trees behind our garage. One of the men came pacing straight up to me looking shaken. I couldn’t quite take it in when he told me they’d found a dead body ‘just over there’, pointing behind our garage and into the woods beyond.
He told me that the body was quite decomposed but that it looked like a woman. Instantly my fear escalated as my mind fabricated the story that she was raped and murdered.
When the police arrived, the mushroom pickers were asked to lead them through the forest to where the body lay.
Despite being asked to stay at the house, I followed, determined to know where it had been found. They walked along the forest path towards the back of our land and then turned up a little hill towards a special ‘power place’ I call ‘The Women’s Fire’. It’s a beautiful and quite secret opening, nestled in the woods, surrounded by trees with a fire pit in the centre. I’ve held Women’s Circles, private client sessions and ceremonies there for many years, and it’s where I go for deep reflection and renewal time in nature.
My heart started racing when I saw them heading towards The Women’s Fire. There are literally hundreds of acres of forest surrounding us. How come the body was so close to this sacred space?
They came to a stop about 30 feet away of the Women’s Fire underneath a beautiful old Oak Tree. A man’s body was curled up in a dip, right in the roots of the tree. His shoes and socks were placed neatly to one side.
No-one could tell how long he had been there. The mushroom picker thought about two weeks, the police said possibly two months.
Two months?! Only two weeks beforehand, we had held a Women’s Circle at The Women’s Fire, building the energy for The Women’s Council due to be held in early October. The thought that his body may have been there with us all along and without us knowing, was hard to imagine.
We built a very warm and supportive relationship with the Police from this day on. Teams of officers circulated in 24 hour vigils on the land after the whole area was cordoned off for forensic investigation – including The Women’s Fire!
It felt strange to have the The Women’s Fire, revealed so blatantly in the investigation – a bit like I was exposing an ancient witches coven to the authorities! At the same time it was very affirming that I felt so free to give a statement and be completely open about why I created it and what it’s used for. I even told them that I felt the man may have felt drawn to the warmth and sacredness of the area as a safe place to surrender his life.
Once we realised that his death didn’t look ‘sinister’, I began to tune into the portent and deeper truth of what might have happened. My heart somehow knew that this man had taken his life and although the police were never able to conclude this medically, all the evidence suggested (with 95% certainty) that it was a planned suicide.
The message from this event has been stirring in me ever since. It turned out that the man was only 26 years old – one of many his age or younger who have found living harder than dying.
Though I don’t know any details from his personal story, over the weeks that followed, I allowed myself to sense to the pain of this man’s suffering and the disconnection and isolation that might have caused him to take his life. I began to see his death as symbolic of the suffering of the ‘disconnected masculine’ in our world; of how our traumatised, patriarchal culture is breeding this disconnection from ourselves, from nature and from one another.
I felt deeply honoured and, quite frankly, blown away by the fact that this beautiful Soul had found his way through many miles of forest and discovered a resting place so close to the Women’s Fire – a place that holds the energy of the sacred heart of the feminine, the Mother, the Earth that births, holds and nourishes life – as if he had found a portal through which he could finally surrender his pain and come home.
As if this alone wasn’t significant enough, we later discovered that he had last been seen alive in a local town the day before our Women’s Circle here in August.
We have every reason to believe that he arrived here and took his life, either just before our ceremony, on the very same day or the day after. The mushroom picker turned out to be right.
Over the months since, I have shared my personal experience of this with some of the women who were here with me that August weekend. They too have felt deeply moved by the feelings and symbolism it stirred in them.
What felt particularly significant, is that our August ceremony was focused on bringing prayers to an Altar Cloth we had created for The Women’s Council in October. The cloth symbolises the healing and integration of the feminine and masculine within each one of us and in the world. It represents the healing of our disconnection from nature and our inherent sacredness, and ultimately, healing of the disconnection between one another.
To me this man’s surrender felt like a surrender of the ‘distortion of separation‘ – the myth that we are all alone in this world and that we are somehow cast out, unworthy of the warmth and love that comes only with our sense of belonging to life.
One of my friends asked me, ‘when you sit at the women’s fire, in which direction of the Circle is the tree where he was found?’ I was perhaps not entirely surprised to discover it was the ‘North West’. In the Circle Wisdom that I teach, this is the direction of ‘Relatedness and the Power of Co-creation’. This wisdom teaches us about our interrelatedness to all things and the creative power that comes from knowing we are part of life. The ‘distortion’ or ‘shadow’ of this power is ‘separation’.
Although at one level this man’s death was tragic, it was perhaps also his choice to return to wholeness – to come home to the Mother, home to his Soul, home to the sacred weaving of the feminine and masculine from which all life is born.
This may have been the only way he knew how to surrender the pain he was experiencing. But as you and I know, this is not the only way. So the questions that emerge for from this are:
How can we surrender the pain of separation and come home to our wholeness, without giving up life itself?
How can we meet our deepest suffering and choose to live?
What is our role as women in creating a culture where everyone can feel their belonging?
These might sound like huge, weighty questions that are only relevant at time of great despair but I would argue that they are also relevant to us each and every day.
In each moment that we meet our fear of ‘not being enough’, or of ‘being too much’ or some other fear of not belonging, what will we do?
Will we let this fear kill our dreams of life or will we surrender the stories of judgement and separation that no longer serve us?
Will we meet ourselves with the tender, loving embrace of belonging or cast ourselves aside in a veil of shame?
Will we stay alone in the myth of separation or connect with others who might help us to remember that we belong because we’re alive and, no matter what our history is, that we have our very own place and reason to be here?
There is something profound about the timing of this man dropping into our ceremony and into my life in such an unforgettable way, as if asking us not to forget him.
It’s no accident that this whole experience happened whilst I was focused on preparing for my TEDx Talk, ‘Rising Connected’ and a three day Women’s Council at Findhorn. I had a tumultuous time integrating the impact from this event, but the gifts of what I was able to feel have only enriched my understanding of what it means to Rise Connected.
Within the burgeoning global women’s movement, there is, rightly, a lot acknowledgement of the suffering of women and the Earth. Our focus is largely on reclaiming the feminine within us, on reconnecting with the Earth and with the deep resourcing that comes from our relationship to Source. This is essential and foundational in our healing work individually and collectively.
However, through listening to the Soul of this man on our land, my heart has opened with a much deeper recognition of how much men have also suffered in our patriarchal world. I have been reflecting on the subtle ways that I, as a women, might have unwittingly supported the old paradigm in which it is just as hard for men (if not harder) to be truly open, vulnerable and authentic. It’s a culture where the expectation of the masculine (regardless of gender) is to stay tough, and to keep providing and protecting at all costs in order to be worthy of belonging. That cost is usually disconnection.
That’s why so many beautiful men are doing this work too. We are not alone in our quest for wholeness.
So, I wonder if one of the gifts from this young man’s visit, is an invitation for us to gently and lovingly surrender our own inner patriarchy, so that we can truly honour, care for and embrace the healthy masculine within us and in the world around us.
After all, isn’t ‘his’ deepest desire to support our true blossoming?
I want to finish this ‘episode’ of my story by honouring the man who surrendered his life on our land, for all the pain he took home to the Earth and for the beauty and honouring of the masculine he has brought into light.
“Thank you brother, for blessing our lives with yours and for bringing the Grace and power of surrender to our hearts and to the heart of this land.”
If you’ve read this far, I thank you for listening to the threads of a story that is still unfolding. I hope it has nourished you in some way and that you will find your own meaning from it. If you feel moved to, please feel free to share in the comment box below.
With love from the warm heart of the Earth,