5. Ziloeta


Spell for Release / Gratitude for Grief/ Beginning of Spring


I look to Death (in its many forms) as a being, a teacher.

This winter in particular has been a lot about going deeper into this relationship with Death. This has mainly happened through processing personal grief, spending a lot of time with the Land, and ancestral work/research. I wrote this spell-song on the last big snowstorm of winter. It brought the deepest, softest, most beautiful snow yet.

I love the snow, but I was already eager and ready for spring to come. I noticed an internal tension between my love for the snow, my desire to be done with it, and the inevitability of Spring. In this harmony of feelings, I saw parallels with my experiences of grief and “loss”/change/Death. The unexpected snow storm came to teach me on that February night, and I was grateful. The snow and the ghost of what/who I grieve danced together, “haunting” me in the most beautiful meaning of the word. I listened.

I believe grief is a practice, a process, an art.

The pain does not exist simply to celebrate itself. It serves a purpose and has a practical function, like all Life. We are often encouraged to keep grief behind closed doors. Grief and Death are taboo. At times this is how it should be.

Sacred processes are not always meant to be bared to all.

But most often the designation of “taboo” does not serve to protect the sacred, but instead serves to repress, oppress, deny, ignore, hide. This is especially so in the dominant culture built on nihilistic violence and exploitative illusions. In truth, Death and Grief are a danger to fear or repress only to those who deny it and/or profit off its abuse/misuse.

One thing we know is that where there is taboo, there is most certainly power.

It is a privilege to grieve, to let yourself grieve, and be allowed to grieve. To experience these things fully, respectfully, is a privilege and a source of power/strength. Knowing and experiencing our interconnectedness is a privilege. It is true power and gift. This knowing is especially potent (and often hardest to swallow) when interconnectedness takes the form of Death.

What can kill, can cure.

This old witches saying speaks on the surface to the power of poisonous plants which also have medicinal and/or magical properties.

Take Foxglove, for example. Digitalis is known to be extremely poisonous and can stop a heart, but it is also one of the most powerful medicines for heart failure as a cardiac stimulant. In beautiful Foxglove, Life and Death do not battle as opposites. They are one and the same.

Knowing Life in Death, Death in Life, knowing they are not opposites but friends, lovers.... this knowing is what grief opens to us. It is what Death teaches us if we can bear to sit in its presence. Grief is a painful rite of passage; a form of initiation that takes us further into the warm, beautiful intricacies of Existence.

It is important to note, however, that grief (like everything else in Life) is not meant to be held in an unchanging state. We must listen and honor times to let go, to release. Eventually, grief must go to make room for other parts of Life.

Have no doubt, it will come again. If there is any doubt or fear about the return of grief/Death, then it is a sign that more listening and processing must take place.

Release must be in gratitude.

Grief must have a seat saved at the table. Death must be respected and thanked. Learning this can take many years, lifetimes even.

Grief is not linear. Like the seasons it comes and goes, and serves a purpose every time. Death is not the unchanging solid tomb we imagine it to be. It is fluid, dynamic, alive, the most potent embodiment of Change. Death is deep in the snowpack of winter, in the story of the seeds of spring, in the dry heat of summer, in the vibrant leaf-dropping of fall . . .

Through grief, we are opened.

We let the Dead (or the “lost”) into ourselves so they may speak.


Through grief, we are opened. With enhanced sight we are able to see the shimmering, translucent veil between times, spaces, loves.

Through grief, we are opened. What was thought lost becomes Not Lost; it becomes part of us, empowering us as we grow, expand, embrace.

Through grief, we are opened. We become more alive in our nearness to Death.

Ghost, you are the seed.

Snow, you are the drink.

My body, you are spring.