In honor of Memorial Day weekend, we turn our attention to the mysteries of death, grief, and memory. What does it mean to honor our dead, and how does our relationship with loved ones we have lost shape our connection to the land in which we live? Can we acknowledge our sense of sacred ambivalence, and the tension between holding onto the past and looking forward to the future?
We begin this episode by sharing personal reflections on the meaning of Memorial Day and how national holidays can sometimes risk transforming real people into symbols for a cause. How do we resist that urge? Ali ponders the possibility of reconnecting with the Great Mother, goddess of the heartland, through reverence and spiritual ritual as a way of reorienting ourselves towards peace and prosperity in times of scarcity and war.
We also explore the relationship that other animals have with death and the process of grieving, sharing the amazing story of the “Elephant Whisperer,” Lawrence Anthony, a conservationist in South Africa, and the elephants who loved him mourning his recent passing. Jeff also shares more examples of rituals of grief and mourning from the animal kingdom, and Ali recounts the way old cemeteries in the heart of Appalachia connect families to the land and help protect the environment against mountaintop removal mining practices.
After a brief foray into Norse and Celtic mythology, we share some personal reflections about the family and friends we honor on Memorial Day, and our own relationship with death as a part of life. We take a few moments to explore the spiritual meaning of grief as a path towards transformation.
Wishing all of our listeners a blessed and beautiful Memorial Day weekend.
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- “Memorial Day, Motherland and Blood Sacrifice,” by Alison Leigh Lilly
- Wild Elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of “Elephant Whisperer”
- Grief in animals: It’s arrogant to think we’re the only animals who mourn
- Move Not Those Bones
- Opening and closing theme: “Dragonfly” by Brian Boyko
- “Oh Ye Roses,” by Mr. and Mrs. Smith
- “Longing,” by Peter Vorländer
- Original photography by Alison Leigh Lilly
- Thanks to ~ Essence of a Dream ~ for the background texture!
Tags: animals, cemetery, death, elephants, grief, Memorial Day, mother goddess, transformation