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The Wild Edge of Sorrow explains that grief has always been communal and illustrates how we need the healing touch of others, an atmosphere of compassion, and the comfort of ritual in order to fully metabolize our grief. Weller describes how we often hide our pain from the world, wrapping it in a secret mantle of shame. This causes sorrow to linger unexpressed in our bodies, weighing us down and pulling us into the territory of depression and death. We have come to fear grief and feel too alone to face an encounter with the powerful energies of sorrow. Those who work with people in grief, who have experienced the loss of a loved one, who mourn the ongoing destruction of our planet, or who suffer the accumulated traumas of a lifetime will appreciate the discussion of obstacles to successful grief work such as privatized pain, lack of communal rituals, a pervasive feeling of fear, and a culturally restrictive range of emotion. Weller highlights the intimate bond between grief and gratitude, sorrow and intimacy. In addition to showing us that the greatest gifts are often hidden in the things we avoid, he offers powerful tools and rituals and a list of resources to help us transform grief into a force that allows us to live and love more fully." North Atlantic Books is a non-profit book publisher based in Berkeley, California, with the aim to develop an educational and cross-cultural perspective linking various scientific, social, and artistic fields; to nurture a holistic view of arts, sciences, humanities, and healing; and to publish and distribute literature on the relationship of mind, body, and nature. 2016-09-02 21:30:09 GMT 2016-09-07 08:00:00 (GMT -08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) Yes (click here to learn more about ) Closed 10 10 0 direct invitation(s) have been sent by the voice seeker resulting in 0 audition(s) and/or proposal(s) so far. Voice123 SmartCast is seeking 25 auditions and/or proposals for this project (approx.) Invitations sent by SmartCast have resulted in 10 audition(s) and/or proposal(s) so far.
To and from the Soul’s Hall
“Embrace your grief, for there your soul will grow.”
We are gathered in a room, about thirty of us. We have come together to work the ground of grief. For two and a half days we have been together, turning over our sorrows like compost. The stories we have shared are moving and powerful, often bringing the entire circle to tears. There are stories of loss, death, abuse, worthlessness, and rage. We have been guided to these depths through a writing practice taught by my friend Kim Scanlon. And now we are ready. It is time for the grief ritual. For the last few hours we have been preparing the space, creating a grief shrine full of photos of ancestors, beloved friends who have died, images of species and cultures that have disappeared—the cumulative losses of the world—in a space made beautiful by boughs of fir, colorful cloths, and flowers. Everyone knows it is time to start, and there is tension in the air as we circle.
It begins quickly. Almost as soon as the invocation is complete and the drumming and singing have begun, a few of the participants rush the shrine. Their grief is brimming, pouring over the lip of the cup. We are now in the full flow of the ritual. Gradually the shrine fills with men and women in various postures. Some are standing, gesturing strongly toward the shrine, shouting their protests for the things that have happened in their lives. Others kneel with their heads in their hands, bodies shaking and heaving as the grief ripples through them. A few are on their bellies, unable to hold themselves up any longer; their sorrow hits them in wave after wave. It is beautiful. There are few things as genuine as a person grieving. There are no questions to ask, no wondering what someone is feeling. It is self-evident. We are revealing the heartache we carry, the sorrows we have shouldered for decades. We are in the tumult of releasing our tears. This is a holy night, and we go on for hours.
No one is alone at the shrine. Every person pouring grief from their warehouse of sorrows is being attended by another. This is not a time to go it alone. Attendants are there to witness and to provide whatever support is needed. Sometimes this means simply holding space for their deep work. Sometimes it means placing a hand on the person so he can feel that he is not alone. For others, the attendant becomes the lap into which the grieving person can crawl to weep her most bitter tears. This display of compassion is an essential piece in our ability to truly lay down our sorrows.
As we slowly come to the end of the ritual, there is a mixture of elation and exhaustion in the air. This form of soul maintenance is hard work, but it is necessary to keep us available to life. As we close, the participants are moving and swaying to the song we have been singing for hours. Their tears have washed them clean, and their faces are shining. The room is lighter. The participants’ bodies are giddy with joy—a wild alchemy of sorrow and joy, played out once again, as it always has been, in the container of sacred ritual.
And now we move around the circle and embrace one another, thankful for where we traveled and for the work we have done. It is time for cookies and fruit, for water and rest. For the time being, we are released from the weight of grief, but we know full well that tomorrow, when we return to our daily lives, we will begin to gather more. That is the way of things. Knowing, however, that we will come together again in a year—or perhaps sooner, as the need arises—reassures the psyche that we will not have to carry this burden alone for long.
When we gather on weekends to work with grief, we often begin by saying that we are entering into a sudden village. These rituals frequently bring together people from great distances, and yet slowly, over the time we share, the feeling of being in a village takes on a shape that is more than a longing; it becomes something tangible. These gatherings offer some of the constituent elements of a living community. The space is created for deep listening, respectful attention, and a container strong enough to receive our most painful and sorrowful revelations. In a very real way, we are able to generate a vessel capable of holding our joined hearts suffering. This space enables all of us to risk sharing the wild edge of sorrow.
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