Anointing Provisions for the Journey

August 03, 2010 By: Allison Stillman Category: Living with Intention, Mind Body Spirit


Venus Anointing Adonis

Imagine gathering your closest loved ones, your nearest and dearest, and creating a ceremony, whereupon you came together to honor a sacred event that was occurring in your life, and invoke the blessings of your tribe to celebrate, witness and support your journey and the passage through this sacred event.

The gathering of our loved ones to witness a marriage, or celebrate the birth of a child are ceremonies that are familiar to us all, but what if we could create the same kind of celebration to honor the passing of a soul out of the body? The provision for the journey, commonly called last rites, is an opportunity to create a sacred ceremony and celebration where we can offer an anointing with essential oils to consecrate that rite of passage and invoke the presence of the Divine. Suddenly, instead of just witnessing the event we become participants and hold the space for the passage to be held and supported with love, light, and the Divine.

Years ago, while attending a dear friend’s death and assisting her passage out of the body, I was talking with the hospice nurse working with us, and she told me something that really stuck with me. She had been a hospice nurse for ten years, and before that a midwife for 27 years, and she said that birth and death were almost the exact same experience, with a few small differences.

Birth entails the soul coming into a body, and death is the soul leaving the body. During birth the body comes alive with an inhalation of the breath, and within the process of death, the body lets go with a long exhalation.

In all her years of attending birth and death, she told me that in her estimation, we should cry for the birth of a soul onto the planet, as the life ahead will be challenging and filled with suffering, as is the human condition. And at death we should all celebrate and rejoice for the souls of our loved ones and the sweet liberation from the body and all suffering.

As a minister, I have thought long and hard about those statements, and tend mostly to agree with her. I have stood at the side of loved ones and others who have passed, anointing them with sacred oils to assist their transition and prepare them for the letting go, or the final surrender, and I have witnessed liberation as something we should rejoice and celebrate, despite our own grief at the loss of their physical presence.

Creating a ceremonial anointing for a loved one who is leaving their body, is a sacred rite that has been practiced for millennia, to help the soul begin to recognize the other side of the veil, the presence of angels and already departed loved ones who will guide the way out of the body, to relax the body and prepare for the final surrender, and to assure a presence and connection with the Divine, God or Higher Spirit.

We can create our own anointing chrism to assist loved ones in the process of letting go, by blending some of the traditional oils used in last rites, such as frankincense and myrrh, and then anointing our loved ones. Most typically, the crown of the head, the heart, the palms of the hands, and soles of the feet are anointed, to help seal them with a blessing and illuminate the passage of the soul, and also as a means of opening altered states of awareness, so that the mind has an easier time of seeing what is on the other side of life in a body.

I dream sometimes of my own death and who I would want to have beside me, singing me home and anointing me with delicious smelling essential oils, preparing my body to release my soul for the journey back to the Divine light of the heavens from which I herald. In a perfect world, my loved ones will be there beside me, celebrating my journey and honoring the love we have shared in this life!

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