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Skeleton Woman

Updated: Mar 5

As I am getting ready for this weekend I can’t help but to think about the myth of the Skeleton Woman. Saturday I will attend my Aunt Linda’s Celebration of Life and then Sunday I will celebrate my Great Aunt Betty’s 90th birthday. As I think about these two events side by side I am reminded of the Skeleton Woman’s holding of the life/death/life cycle.

I am reminded of how the fisherman had caught her on his hook and thought she was a big fish until she broke the surface of the water. How he screamed when he saw her and tried to beat her off with his oar. How when he reached shore he ran thinking that she was following him (not realizing that he still had her hooked on his fishing line.) How often have I tried to run from the life/death/life cycle? How often have I resisted the dying that needed to happen in my life? The dying of a job, the dying of a friendship, the dying of a part of who I was.

Finally, the man reached the snow house and dove in only to be met with his own sobbing and the fast and loud beating of his own heart. He thought he had finally escaped only to find when he lit his whale oil lamp that she was laying next to him all jumbled up like a sack of bones. Seeing her like this softened him and he started to gently untangle her. He continued untangling her and then he dressed her in furs to keep her warm. He slowly fell asleep.

As he slept a tear escaped from his eye and as the Skeleton Woman saw the tear she became so thirsty that she began to drink from it. She drank and drank tending to years of her own thirst. She then reached into the sleeping mans chest and pulled out his heart and started to beat it like a drum. As she drummed she began to sing out flesh, flesh, flesh! As she sang her body started to fill in, her eyes, her arms, her legs, her breast, her hands, and her feet until she had all the things that make a woman a woman. She returned the great drum, his heart, to his body and laid beside him and that is how they awakened.

This story speaks to how I have been feeling lately. There has been lots of grief in me. These tears that soothes my thirst from unprocessed grief over what has already died in my life. These tears that when connected to the heartbeat of my own drum births new life. So as I prepare for this weekend of celebration with my family I will grieve the loss of my Aunt Linda's life even as I am celebrating the birth of a new relationship that we now get to have with her in the ancestral world. As I celebrate my Great Aunt Betty's 90th birthday I will also hold the grief of each passing moment with her. And hopefully it will continue to teach me how to let go so that when it is my time to leave this world I will surrender.

None of us can escape the Skeleton Woman. None of us can escape the life/death/life cycle. But if we are lucky maybe there can be a softening in us that allow us to see her in a new light. And maybe what is birthed from this new sight is a life that brings everything we need to be.


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