by Phyllida Anam-Aire
Anan-Ãire is a Gaelic term meaning “carer of the soul.” Through the past several years, the author explains in A Celtic Book of Dying, she has helped innumerable souls cross over in what is a final journey to the Summerlands. The author, who describes herself as a Celtic Christian, has many beliefs about death and dying, most of which she has retrieved from the “Cauldron of Brigit.”
The Celts, she writes, “were always prepared for that inevitable visitor. Death was seen as a great journey, a great adventure into the vastness of our own nature, into the earth of ourself. Death was not seen as a thief in the night, as nature had prepared them well in her changing seasons and moods. Death was seen as a natural way of dealing with An Tursach mÃ³r, the great tiredness, and they were ‘glad of the long rest at last.'”
Writing that “it is not a matter of life’s being in us for a while, rather we are forever in life and subject to its laws and mysteries,” the author offers at first a meditation where one can connect with their life force, and then kind of let go for a brief out-of-body sensation, to underscore that we are not just our physical bodies.
After reaching this understanding, the author then goes on to describe the after-death journeys of those who have integrated what she calls their “earth-mind” and soul. A peaceful transition is called “shape-changing.” However, if one is led by their “earth-mind”, transitions can be confusing, as the soul may not recognize what is happening.
Being ever practical and not planning on exiting this earth plane soon, the section I most enjoyed in this book were the “lessons to be learned whilst we are still in body.” These tips could have been written by Cheryl Richardson, Debbie Ford, or any of the popular life-coach authors. However, there is wisdom in living a full life. “Go for your dreams — now!” or “Risk living on the edge for a while” can be seen from a different perspective when the goal is not to have any regrets when it does come time for “shape-changing” and, apparently, leads to a smoother transition.
The book also offers advice on sitting with the dying, which is by no means an easy task. It is in these pages where the author’s last name of “carer of the soul” is truly understood, as to assist the dying is a great honor. A whole section of the book is offered on “Helping a Dying Person and Their Relatives,” including suggested prayers for the dying that fit many scenarios, such as for a sudden death. Above all, Anam-Aire instructs, do what is natural.
The book also includes information on the Celtic festival of ancestors called Samhain, and the author provides a contemporary ritual which a group might use to celebrate it. All in all, I found this book to be thought-provoking and informative, but I did note errors that better proof-reading would have caught.
A Celtic Book of Dying: Watching with the Dying, Traveling with the Dead by Phyllida Anam-Aire, Findhorn Press, 2005, 159 pp., $16.95
Review by Diane Saarinen