Teaching Rites of Passage for 35 Years

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Die Before you Die: The Gifts of the Death Lodge

by Petra Lentz-Snow

I was grateful that timing worked out for me to be in our little desert home in the Owens Valley for the pivotal weekend of the expected chemo induced hair loss, and away from the buzz of the Bay Area, where I was going through breast cancer treatment.  “Fourteen days after your first infusion,” my oncologist in Palo Alto had told me, “you can count on it!”  My hair roots had begun to hurt a few days earlier, but it was all still there, the morning of day fourteen. Who knows, I thought, maybe – just maybe, it won’t happen to me.

 

But later that day, brushing my hand absentmindedly over my head while journaling on the patio, a tuft of blond hair silently floated by, touching down on the lawn for a brief moment, before the autumn breeze picked it up and chased it down the driveway. Damn!

 

Like most things, we can’t really imagine them until they actually happen to us. And we don’t really know what we are going to do with them until we are face to face with their physical reality. For me, that afternoon, as I was watching the first bushel of hair tumbling toward the street, it suddenly became clear that I would entrust my hair to this valley, this patch of earth that was sacred ground to me. I was going to give this loss meaning, rather than just enduring it. I would give my hair to the earth as a gift, rather than just having treatment take it from me.    (Read full article)