I very recently returned from an intensive in Seattle. “Deathwalker,” Zenith Virago, taught a training and advanced class in how to facilitate and co-create ceremony for deaths of all kinds. 

She is a master in the truest sense of the word: skilled in her art, and imparting a completeness of knowledge. Though, as she might be quick to quip, knowledge is too static a concept. She is a real learner who realizes no learning is ever final.  She found herself walking with others in their dying and with families after death very naturally, just from being available to others in challenging times. Her energy is solid and magnetizing, but also playful and clear. She was the woman people instinctively turned to in her community and continue to turn to when she is not traveling. 

“Zen” is a fearless and bold champion of truth. She’s ruthlessly kind, warmly non-attached and refreshingly devoid of many of the typical self-serving tendencies we humans habitually display. She exudes a sense of real freedom and authenticity that radiates like a giant aura disarming any lingering neurotic fixations or hang-ups folks fling at one another unawares. This lack of attachment is a distinguishing characteristic. Unflinchingly strong and wise, she knows, celebrates and names her gifts without hesitation but owns none of it. She is comfortable in her own skin and serves from there, never imparting even a  subtle need to be needed. 

She is a walking transmission of what really helps. We are often accustomed to measure our worth. We fertilize our compulsions to carve niches, make a livelihood of becoming the face of a thing, on youtube , instagram, facebook. We strive to “be someone” of note. Whether it is death work or caring in some way, fashioning some semblance of “expertise”, we may too easily develop a subtle edge of superlative, competition and vying for recognition. It is a twist of the age and sets any of us who get seduced by the carrot of confirmation, off track. 

Zenith’s entire orientation is toward real empowerment. She talks about empowering families in caring for their dead, being with their dying. She celebrates not being needed and stepping back. She talked regularly about how more often than not in her home community people call her for this-and-that but less and less often need her to be there. And when they do think they need her she encourages them to take the reigns. “You got this,” she often says. 

I have joked to friends and family that I want to follow her around like a groupie. I have much to learn from her. She has already changed my life. The qualities she embodies and wisdom she imparts is needed right now. We live in desperate times on almost every level you can fathom and what serves most deeply and genuinely is that which doesn’t water the seeds of warfare mentality in it’s many guises. Those many guises include the subtle and insidious, like the rarified isolationism of cornering markets or trying to sneakily brand the boundless. 

What does it really mean to be free and to serve from there, to trust wonder over petty preference, to open to changing experience, take it all in and serve love rather than our doggedly maintained yet tenuous stories of ourselves...