'Birthed by blood, charged by pain. Death comes to all, yet our voice remains.' - Conversations with Hel, Cris Ashburn, 2017 -
Death comes to us all. How does she visit you?
I have been thinking about my relationship with death and the history I hold with Hel. One of my oldest memories is of a skull-faced figure, robed in black, standing at the foot of my bed. Now, I remember running and jumping under my covers to hide from many things- zombie hands, spectral tigers, ghouls coming to drag me away from my home- but the robed figure was never one of them. When they were around I felt protected; a silent gaurdian keeping watch over my bedroom at night. They could see where my parents couldn't; around corners, through walls, and into the shadows themselves.
I now know this figure to be the goddess Hel.
While pondering on this memory, something much older sank in;
a realization that this physical bond went much deeper.
When I was born there was a complication with my delivery.
During labor my heartbeat became irregular and
the doctors had to perform an emergency C-section.
The umbilical cord had wrapped itself around my neck and I couldn't breathe.
I was choking inside of my mother's womb.
I came into this world in-between. I came in hanging from a noose,
and that noose was made of life itself.
Death greeted me, marked me as her own, at birth.
She raised me to see from the shadows, and she taught me to take on pain and shed blood where ever it was needed. I learned the importance of looking the grotesque in it's eyes, seeing past it's bark and behind it's bite. We all carry these marks of death with us; divine designs that our experiences have painted on our skin. We are learning to love the unloved.
But it is the purest, rawest, most unconditional truth of self that can ever be found."
These pains birth us into being, claiming us for the future, reminding us to live while we can. They whisper in our ears, telling us to settle at nothing less than a deeply drawn breath at the end of life's race. But, even more still... these Death Marks give us the exit wounds through which we are able to reach out and touch another's heart.
So, we wear Death carved into our skin, bloodied and gasping for more... more truth, more soul, more ugliness, more connection. We ache for something to call real,
not knowing that it is the very ache that we seek to subside.