In Salicrow’s new book about death and dying, she writes about her Grammy Brown. She was the grandmother and matriarch of Salicrow’s family and the most important person in Salicrow’s young life. Grammy Brown, a mystical wise woman, was half Irish Traveler (an Irish nomadic ethnic group) and half indigenous Blackfoot. It was through Grammy Brown that Salicrow learned that she herself was a natural born medium.
Salicrow is a druid, a psychic medium and a healer who helps people in the processes of dying and in keeping reverence for their Beloved Dead. Last year, Inner Traditions published Salicrow’s magnum opus, The Path of Elemental Witchcraft (link goes to our review here on Facingnorth.net). In this new short volume, Spirit Speaker, Salicrow writes that she hopes that “anyone reading it may find a deeper understanding about what happens when we die” and “how ‘alive’ our Beloved Dead really are.”
The book includes ideas for building and maintaining ancestral altars, for making offerings, and using sounds and symbols that would please the senses of our Beloved Dead. She recommends using the “betwixt and between” hours of dawn and dusk as most advantageous times, when consciousness is “soft around the edges,” to connect with the decease. She recommends learning to consciously enter a light trance state and, while in such a state, to pay attention to the visions and thoughts that cross your mind; they are not just random.
She coins a term, “The Gray,” to describe the time surrounding death, when a person is still living but is not going to get better, and the time just after death. It’s a “transitional space” in which a dying person often experiences visitations from their own Beloved Dead, and a person’s caretakers may also be more likely to experience their own Beloved Dead. Salicrow writes about the guilt people often feel if they didn’t arrive in time to be with a loved one at their moment of death. Her own Grammy Brown died alone before the family could make it to the hospital. She explains that people often wait to die until they are alone. They may have their reasons, and it doesn’t mean their spirits are any less accessible once they are on “the other side.”
Salicrow’s theme throughout this book is one of normalizing the processes of death by encouraging people to do some sort of practice with death on a regular basis. “When we open our consciousness and begin to understand that we do not cease to exist when we leave our body in death,” she writes, “then we begin to live our life with a deeper sense of purpose and joy.”
This book is a useful guide.
~review by Sara R. Diamond
Destiny Books, 2023
109 pp., $16.99