we need a death ritual

"Decolonization is a death ritual."


What does this mean for a people afraid of death? Who shame death? Who look away? Who stifle grieving because it is "unsightly?" Who tell their crying fathers and brothers to man up?


We need a death ritual. We need to recognize the beauty of the vulture, the stunning scavenger who quietly tears away at what's no longer needed and what never was.


After all, death is only disintegration; constant growth is cancer.


Let the mushrooms work their magic on the mindset that gave us the Trail of Tears, reservations, tar sands destruction, poisoned rivers, jailed mothers, slain siblings, and a knee on a Black neck.


Let's compost the rich and spoiled so their hoarded nutrients nourish the starving.


This death ritual does not begin at the societal level. We must initiate it at home.


Light a candle with me, and let the wick sizzle with a stray tear, and when the reaper knocks at our doors, we will look her in the face and say,


"Yes, welcome. Come on in. You are late, and there's so much to do. I have layers to shed.


Here, take my prejudice and feed it to the worms. Here, take my guilt so it can melt into mycelia. Here, take my fragility and crumble it into humus.


Here, take my defensiveness, my selfishness, my ego. Take the way I make things about me and grind them into a pulp the color of tea."


I'll feed it all to my garden, and it's juices, transformed, will run down my chin come summer.



Inspired by an interview with brontë velez (@littlenows) on For the Wild podcast with Ayana Young, in which brontë says, "To me, decolonization is a death ritual ... We're talking about letting go and releasing from what we thought-- either for some peoples, what we thought we wanted, and then for others, what was imposed upon us and told made us citizens or worthy beings or valued beings, or declared that we were in fact alive. And I think we're at a time in this concept of The Great Turning that it will require pain. It will require grieving. It will invoke sadness."


Listen to the episode here.



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© 2020 - Natalie K. Stickel