In 2010 a man by the name of Jon Underwood decided to start a series of projects about death. He had read about the work of Bernard Crettaz and was inspired to start a discussion group with death as its subject, and so the Death Café was born. The first Death Café was held in Jon’s living room in Hackney, East London in September 2011. Lizzy Miles from Columbus Ohio was the first person to hold a Death Café outside of the UK. Since then there have been over 6914 Death Cafes held in 58 countries.
Death Cafes are a group directed discussion about death with no agendas, themes, or objectives. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session. They are held in an accessible, respectful, confidential space with no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action. The goal of a Death Café is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.
Attending a Death Café is a great way to explore ideas about death and dying and to share our thoughts about our own mortality. Because there is no agenda, each session is new and different. The discussion is group directed and free flowing with several topics usually being discussed in each session. Topics discussed in past sessions have included:
• Burial Practices around the World
• Advanced Directives
• Home Funerals
• Hospice and Palliative Care
• US medicine and end – of – life care
• Social media and what happens to it when we die
• Green Burials
• The Funeral Industry
So come have a cup of tea, a piece of cake and discuss all things death at the next Death Café.
(Great Conjunction Spiritual Center holds Death Cafes on a quarterly basis. See our schedule for the next Death Café)
End – of – Life Care Consultant, Doula
This card is often called the "wish" card and is considered to be exceptionally fortuitous. Creativity abounds and the energies are stable for manifesting dreams. Just be careful of complacency or resting on your laurels as things go your way. Making your wishes come true still takes work.
The above mentioned fortune is lovely, but the more important aspect of this card is the gratifying emotional happiness indicated here. Once you take full responsibility for and control of your happiness, the sky is the limit! You can choose to be happy living in your car or in a mansion. You can choose to be happy dining on mac-n-cheese or caviar. When you become the master of your joy, then it becomes very easy to share that joy in random acts of kindness. And guess what? With every act of kindness, you feel more joy!
Big love to you all!
The Emerald Box Turtle
Recently I watched a short video on social media that really touched me. It was about a woman who makes wigs by hand for children with no hair. She does it for free. Her goal is to help those children be accepted by their peers and to feel loved. It’s an amazing thing to do.
Each of us had received great gifts, or bounty, from the universe. Some of us have great wealth with cars and homes. Some people have the ability to make wonderful friends wherever they go. Some people and are funny and share laughter and joy. There are people who are wonderful gardeners and grow food. Other people may have very little from a worldly view, but at least they have their health. No matter what it is, we all know abundance on some level.
In our own way we need to give something back. Give back to the world, society, to the universe. It is not only a good way to show appreciation for what we have, but to “pay it forward”, as it were. Some of us give of our hearts, while others give of our time and energy. Still other people give monetarily. It doesn’t matter. It’s the act of giving, of loving and of sharing that matters.
The woman in the video I saw devotes not only her resources but also a great deal of her time in order to create realistic wigs. She is amazing. And so are you. We all have a great deal to contribute and to give back to the universe.
This year we, at Great Conjunction, have been working on my pet project. I’m sure you’ve already heard of this project. It’s still in the early stages, but we’ve almost completed the first phase and it’s well on its way. Each month we go to an assisted living facility and share guided meditation and Reiki with the residents and the staff.
The feedback we’ve received from one of the administrators at the facility, as well as from the participants themselves, has been outstanding. The impact such a simple program is making in the lives of these people is nothing short of phenomenal.
We have even been able to see some of the effects the meditation and Reiki has had on the residents. At the end of a session, you can even see it in their expressions. The level of relaxation, the release of anxiety and the joy they experience can be seen on their faces and in their bodies. They stand up a little straighter, with a little more ease.
I can’t truly explain the benefit I personally receive from this program. The joy of seeing these people’s faces makes my heart swell with love and gratitude for what we are able to share with them. And if we can help them in some small way, then that’s a huge thing!
We are ready to expand this program. We plan to reach out to other facilities and other “at risk” populations and share guided meditation and Reiki. We would like to work with more assisted living facilities, with more seniors, people with psychological and physical issues and with veterans groups, to mention just a few. We would like to grow this program exponentially as well as train others in this program.
That’s where you can come into play. While the staff of Great Conjunction and a few wonderful and dedicated volunteers donate our time and energies, it’s going to take money and resources to keep this program alive and to grow it. We need to pay for insurance, meditation and Reiki training for volunteers and staff, materials and so forth. We are also providing residents, and soon staff, with guided meditation cds so they can work with meditation on their own.
Please, we need your help to expand. We need donations to pay the expenses involved in this program and to expand. We also need you! If you are an experienced Reiki Master we would love for you to join us. Please share of your bounty so that we may continue to help the more vulnerable members of our world.
Here’s a link you can use to make a one-time donation or even a continuing gift. Your kindness and generosity is greatly appreciated. Donate Today!
I hope you enjoy the season of bountiful harvest.
Joe Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder
*Note, to protect the resident's privacy, images are from the Library of Congress archives.
We hosted some amazing programs in September, if you weren’t able to attend, here is some of what you missed:
This was our third Death and Cake and it really seems to be hitting it's stride with far raging conversations including
· Burial Practices around the World
· Advanced Directives
· Home Funerals
· Hospice and Palliative Care
· US medicine and end – of – life care
· Social media and what happens to it when we die
· Green Burials
· The Funeral Industry
These aren’t morbid or scary events, but a place to clear misconceptions, get better information about end of life, and share experiences. Plus, we laugh a lot, not morbid or gallows humor – just the joy of release and discovery.
John Thornton shared his experiences at Regina Rivers’ program – “Come Fly With Me: Traversing the Three Non-Ordinary Worlds” on his website, here is a highlight:
I listened to the sound of Regina’s steady drumbeat and the quiet chanting in the background, I had a strange moment of uncertainty, “When did the chanting start?” I couldn’t quite make out the words, but it was multiple voices chanting in a language I couldn’t understand, but was so clear enough that I was almost sure it was a recording Regina had started after the Journey had begun. It wasn’t. As the drumming ceased the chants faded away.
I was a little shy asking about the chanting during our discussion afterward, but I wasn’t the only one who heard it. “Sometimes the drum sings,” Regina replied.
Sometimes The Tower can indicate a disaster lurking around the corner. Fortunately, I don't see that for us this month. What I do see is incredible invigorating energy that makes us ambitious and courageous about what we want to do next. With this card, our creativity is pushing us to take action. We simply cannot deny this kick in the pants! Forward motion is inevitable with this greater awareness of new visions as something languishing on the back burner is suddenly ready to come front and center.
In addition to this explosion of energy, some structures and patterns in your life will change. I don't mean the house is going to fall down, I'm talking social structures and norms that have been in place in your life for a while. There will be an opportunity to cast off burdensome obstacles or responsibilities, which in turn will release tension and free the spirit from limiting circumstances.
This month is going to provide a long over-due opportunity for personal growth and progress. Self-assertion and self-motivation will push you to MOVE. Therefore, experiment with new living conditions (rearrange the furniture, paint the walls), ideas, and personal appearance (new hair, make-up, clothing styles). Just because the year is on the wane, it doesn't mean we should begin hibernating now. There's simply too much pumpkin spice stuff we have to incorporate into our lives!
Happy October everyone!
The Emerald Box Turtle