I sit between two Ladies.

The Lady of Lament and the Lady Nourishment.

In that silent dialogue, as decay progresses in the slowness of days.

Autumn, for ancient celtic peoples, is the first Spring: they understand the beginning of Life lies in the dream.

Day begins at dusk, where the Sun dreams itself so it can be reborn. Spring has its first prelude, as it is when pulp decays that the fruit’s seed heart is revealed.

All maturity culminates in detachment, self-stripping.

In a fightless mourning that brings transformation in the past, along with the first and still unexpressed, potential, revelation of the future.

This is a bountiful time, rich in the fertility of the last harvests. On the earth’s surface everything is, apparently, growing ever more silent. Within the soil, everything ferments.

Decomposition is a celebration of life: diverse microorganisms, fungi, bacteria, insects, and reptiles celebrate the transmutation of pulp into new soil. Everything bubbles/bustles, effervesces.

I believe the same happens to us: an apparent stillness, a tremendous stir and intensity within.

Urban life is still incapable of stripping away our most primordial layers of belonging to the living soil, and that is inalienable.

We continue to respond to the living Earth’s fervor, for she beckons each cell to be in sync with the time of cycles, without scheduled hours dictated by artificial clock hands, in an isolated, and isolating agenda.

I sit between two Ladies, who keep this threshold of a quarantine: forty days bridging the Equinox or Old River (as it is still called in some hidden / far-flung places in our country) and the Good Death.

Just as in the myth of Osiris, lord of the Wood, who is vegetation, deer, river; he has aged. His body dies at the Equinox’s entrance and decomposes into thousands of pieces that spread across the Earth.

The river has grown old and its once abundant flow is nearly dry against the now widened banks.

It is exactly here, in the contact with all that dies, fades, decays, that the first spark of what will be ground, seed, and the resilient root of renewal.

It is precisely this threshold that we find culturally the most difficult to embrace, because it contains the paradox of finding in Death the flame of renewal, which is, in fact, the one and eternal immortality: always starting over, for the first time.

There is sanctity in death. Not that of a dissociated celestialness, but rather the one brought by the dignity of knowing one self to be soil and web of life. Of being this soil body, this dust body, this mineral, this shell for the growing seed, this fungus which covers the Earth with the diverse mycelium without which all hope ceases to exist, because its organic keepers have yielded.

In some ancestral cultures of Africa, it was forbidden to pour boiling water on the ground, so as not to break the ancestors’ web. Have you ever dug your hands in the dark earth of the wild wood and touched the silky white web that dwells inside the soil?

Well, there are peoples for whom nothing can be more sacred. Those who understand that to ascend, we begin in the dream, the dream begins in the seed, the seed begins in the ground and the ground begins in the fungal web that feeds on death.

There’s a secret here which is the greater sortilege: to the woodland, death does not exist. Everything is continuity.

How would it be, to envision that our Life, as our Death, serve the greater good of all relationships?

That the more loving, balanced and creative we are, the better life and better soil we’ll be?

I thus sit between two Ladies: Lament and Nourishment. I hold each their hands in mine.

There’s mourning, there’s loss, there’s pain, there’s descent and decline.

There’s support, there’s release, there’s a lap, there’s comfort and rising from within lighter.

Both forces are ever present: weeping is also birthing and birthing is also weeping.

Death is also holy and birth is also death. There’s no way not to die in life and there’s no living without parts of us dying.

I’m the dust on the sickle in the hands of two ladies: the reaper and the sower.

These ladies who populate villages, mountains and hamlets in our land West of an entire continent, speak of natural forces with power impossible to be contained in a name; they then receive their magnanimous quality as their name.

There are two sisters that guard us: one on each side of the river. We cross, in the Autumn Equinox, from vitality to decay, and in the Spring Equinox, we’ll cross from germination, which is the first root, on to ascension, to flower and fruit.

These two sisters remind each of our hands to deliver and create, create and give, release and receive.

These two sisters teach us that everything is connection and reciprocity and that only a life devoid of complementary paradoxes is a barren one, because it is in those that the dialogue between converging internal and external forces comes to fruition.

In these linear times, let us have naked, yet dignified and absolutely honest branches: may all we relinquish be food for our firm and flexible roots.

Let us find, in paradoxal yet integral Nature, the substantive spiritual strength that grants us the ability to see and create meaning and pathway.

Text: Iris Lican Garcia
Translation: Joana Nobre
Photography: Mizé Jacinto