June 2, 2024: Death Space

 I’ve been spending the last three weeks or so hanging out in Death Space when I meditate. It’s taken me a little while to figure out why but I think I know now: When we experience the death of a loved one, we have the opportunity to revisit the times in our own lives when we’ve experienced death or a death-like state. In my case, I can remember two past lives and so the experience of those deaths has been present with me when I meditate. In this current human life, I had an encounter with Death Space that was devastating and had a profound effect on my life’s trajectory. It’s probably the reason I became interested in the inner work.


When I was born, my mother was depressed and she continued to struggle with depression throughout my childhood. She was never diagnosed or treated so the depression was pretty rough on all of us but I felt it very acutely. Probably due to my experience being murdered in my previous life, I felt like I was flung into Death Space when I was born. My mother–the person I was merged with–was depressed and periodically consumed by the ravenous blackness of depression. (This is how I think she perceived it; as an unending abyss that was always reaching for her, threatening to consume her.) Well, I fell into that abyss and it was awful. My little infant/toddler brain couldn’t handle it and I was harrowed.


Around the age of four, I became clinically depressed and was hospitalized. The doctors and my parents, it seemed like I was suffering from a mysterious disease and they did all sorts of tests on me, even doing a biopsy of a lymph node to see if I had cancer. Of course, my failure to thrive was due to depression and not a physical ailment and they found nothing. After a number of weeks, I improved as people tend to do when they are depressed. Essentially, I realized that I couldn’t just give up and die and so had to soldier on as best as I could. I drank the Kool Aid and became like everyone else, joining the nonsensical world of human life at this time in the world. It was a pyrrhic victory and part of me has never left Death Space.


I tend to find myself in Death Space again when I am around my mother. Something about her proximity triggers it in me. A couple weeks ago, I was up north visiting her right after her sister died. This meant that my experience of Death Space was even more profound and it’s stuck with me ever since. Additionally, two days ago, we had our beloved dog, Phoebe, put down by the vet. She’s been slowly declining for over a year and it took my husband forever to finally decide to euthanize her. So, I’ve known for over a week that her time was coming to an end. This was another reason the Death Space was so dominant in my awareness.


So, every time I meditate, I find myself in Death Space and I find myself confronted by the deep traumas I’ve experienced around Death. I haven’t felt like I’m reliving these traumas and they are not overwhelming. I think of them more as an opportunity to get clearer about my relationship with death and Death Space.


I’ve come to appreciate Death Space. It’s cold and black and austere and takes a lot of fortitude to dwell in. However, it’s not hostile or evil. It simply is and I’ve harmonized with its crisp, unforgiving, austere nature. It’s not like there is no love there, only that that love is implicit. It is possible to hang out there and make friends with the space even if it’s the farthest thing from warm and inviting as it could be.


It’s also helped me to get clearer about the Imaginal vis a vis the Death Space. The Imaginal is more ephemeral and dynamic and changing. It’s constantly shifting and evolving, revealing something one moment and concealing it the next. It’s like a fever dream with clarity. The Death Space is just simply clear and empty and devoid of warmth. It is unchanging and yet, like the Imaginal, it is connected to all things. I’ve realized during this experience of Death Space that it’s possible to become aware of the presence of others while dwelling in it. In other words, there is no unique Death Space for each of us, it is the same Death Space for everyone. It’s just that we’re normally so preoccupied with our own impending death and reacting to the austerity that we don’t realize it’s actually a communal space.


I wonder if it’s my proclivity for Death Space and the Absolute that makes it possible for me to access the Imaginal. As anyone who has read even a few of these entries knows, death is a constant theme. I feel like death made such a deep impression on my soul that it’s a portal for my soul. Or my soul is basically a death portal itself. It sounds grimmer than it is and just typing the words, ‘death portal’, make me smile.


Anyway, all of this is just to catch you up on where I’ve been lately. I haven’t felt like journeying into the Imaginal for the past several weeks and have wanted to simply hang out in Death Space and see what it has to teach me. Today, though, in the last five minutes of my mediation, I did have a beautiful (and also disturbing) Imaginal experience.


I first became aware of blackness which is nothing new because my experience has been all about blackness lately. This blackness was different, though, and felt like a window. I stared into the window of blackness and saw a golden, robed figure hunched over. I approached and reached out to put my hand on the figure’s shoulder, realizing as I did so that the figure was a middle-aged man. He was stout with a bald head and a beard. The robe was familiar - I’ve seen many other souls wear similar garments in these visions and I wondered briefly where these robes come from.


I helped the man to his feet, urging him out of the blackness. He didn’t seem to want to go and was also weak so I let him lean on me and I helped him along. Eventually, we saw a bloody red glow ahead of us and the blackness opened into a hellish scene. There was a large demon with the head and face of a bat standing before us and he was tending a large cauldron filled with blood. The bat demon was fearsome and the man was afraid of him but I wasn’t. I approached the demon and bowed deeply to him (or her?) and asked permission to approach the vat of blood. It allowed me to stand before the cauldron and I reached into the blood, withdrawing the body of a young woman.


The man in the golden robe cried out as I pulled the woman’s body out of the cauldron and he came running up to her. She was barely breathing and I had to hold her up because she was so weak. The man was ecstatic at finding her and couldn’t stop crying and hugging her to him. I had to coax them both to leave, knowing that we couldn’t stay here. 


Bowing one last time to the demon, I helped the man and his daughter (I’m pretty sure that’s who she was) along. We entered a dark corridor that was pitch black and I had a brief feeling of nausea as he crossed over a boundary. On the other side of the boundary there were many other souls waiting. They wore golden robes like the man’s. (The daughter’s robes were also golden now that the blood had evaporated from them.) The man and woman joined the procession of souls, leaving me behind to watch.


I was a little bemused by the experience but mostly I was in awe of the cathedral that I found myself standing in. Whereas the man and his daughter had been most interested in joining the procession of other souls, I was more interested in savoring the wonder of the place.


It was a vast temple of night but it was also alive. I realized in surprise that it was actually the center of an immense tree. This tree was so huge that this space inside it was bigger than most cathedrals. I immediately thought of the Tree of Life and had a strong feeling that it was related to it, if not the Tree itself. In this manifestation, though, compassion (green) and peace (black) were strongest and the tree seemed to be made of black-green wood. It was incredibly beautiful and I cannot do justice to it with these few words.


Almost as soon as I became aware of the loving kindness of the tree, I was transported through its green-black depths and found myself lying on a grassy hillside surrounded by beautiful flowers. The sky overhead was bright blue and clouds billowed past. The sun was radiant above me. It was windy and cool and beautiful.


The Woman in White was lying in the grass beside me. The age of a young teenage girl, she looked over at me and smiled. Her smile was infectious and I couldn’t resist smiling back at her. “It’s good to be with you again,” she said. “You were away too long. Why don’t you take a break and lie here with me for a while and enjoy this beautiful day?”


I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. It was an innocent kiss, almost furtive. She looked over at me in surprised delight and laughed. Then she kissed me back. We rolled over each other, kissing and laughing, until we grew silent. We lay back and stared up at the sky, watching the clouds blow by and smelling the perfume of the flowers on the breeze. I felt so loving toward her. I can’t describe the affection I feel for this being who is unknown to me and yet so much a part of my life.


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