Hollowed by Grief, Hallowed by Grace

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Purchase Hollowed by Grief, Hallowed by Grace: A Silent Kirtan of Poetry and Art by Rashani V Réa, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, and James Crews.

Praise for the book

There are a few Old Powers in this world who are profoundly skilled at taking you beyond the solace of the known and into direct communion with the wild mystery, and Grief is one of them.  When Grief turns its immeasurably ancient eyes your way and calls you into presence with the truth of what is, there is a choice: to collapse into despair, or to spread flaming wings into that storming sky and become an offering of beauty to the world through the initiating alchemy of the journey.  It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s a choice that makes all the difference for not only one’s own life, but for our shared life as well.

Rashani V. Réa has chosen to create an offering out of the profound grief of loss in this collection of gorgeous poetry collages.  Deftly weaving soft texture and color with words a thousand miles deep, she holds out to us all a gift to carry us through the times that could break us were we to walk through those cold hours without sacraments like this to warm us.

Make the good tea and find the quiet place to be fully present and receive what is given here: it will nurture your heart, soothe your spirit, open your wisdom, and feed beauty into your soul.  It will help you remember that you are not alone when it seems that no one in all the world could ever possibly understand.

Maitreya Wolf, soul evolution mentor and musician

What wisdom is spilt upon these pages, generously like a long rain on parched ground. Our world is so desperately in need of such wisdom. Rashani V. Réa brings into visceral awareness the grace which sustains us. Even as we roil in suffering, even as we are swallowed by grief, grace nonetheless sustains us. She has identified it so well—beneath thought and feelings, perceptions and attachments, words and form and story is a deep presence of pure awareness unaffected by the storm. And because she keeps her keel deep in the water, she does not capsize. Love provides the stability to harness the force of such gales to move forward into love after love. 

Rashani reminds me of what Jungian therapist, Ann Ulanov, says—it comes down to one thing: “consenting to rise, to be dented, pressed in upon, to rejoin, to open, to ponder, to be where we are in this moment and see what happens, allowing the breath of not knowing to be taken, wanting to see what is there and what is not there. In such a space, we allow ourselves to depend on something greater than ourselves, to take what it gives us and respond to it.”

Grace emerges throughout this book. The longing for those lost, the ache to be safe and whole, the reaching for anything to salve and soothe… all this is grace calling us home to the Ground of Being we could never be separate from, despite sensation, story, and attachments. How could we imagine we could ever have been separated from such love? 

Above all, Rashani shows us how to surrender. How we resist that in our culture! Yet what is it in the end but the disappearance of the self. In such allowing, we agree with reality as it is, and in doing so, we participate in the event. It is not happening to us; it is happening through us. We are surrendering to a process the mind cannot understand. Ironic that surrender is not a weakness in this situation, but wisdom, for vulnerability is transcended due to its acceptance. It requires us to be disrobed of ego, stripped of identity, and laid bare in our raw humanity. To adapt the insight of poet and author, Kamand Kojouri, turning to the sacred as one dies “is like undressing before a bath. You don’t undress out of fear that your clothes will become wet. You undress because you want the water to touch you. You want to completely immerse yourself in the feeling of the water and to emerge anew.”  Can we do that with grief? Yes, and Rashani shows us the way.

I am left grateful. And yes, the artwork is sublime!                                                                               

David Maginley, M.Div, CSCP, psychospiritual therapist, author ofBeyond Surviving: Cancer and Your Spiritual Journey

Rashani V. Réa exemplifies for us, among many things, that “the Medicine is in the Making”. Her glowing collages remind us that we are blessed via the crucible of loss and are bestowed with an abundance of grace and beauty. This practice of using creativity to alchemize grief took root for Rashani four decades ago, when she began crafting her world-renowned, deeply inspiring Dharma-Gaia greeting cards, which were hewn, forged, nourished and inspired by devastating loss. 

In addition to her collages, interlaced with the stunning poetry of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and James Crews, Rashani shares with us eight of the many memorial/remembrance gardens she has created during the last three decades. With dedication, great love and attention to detail, she puts her whole being (with river and lava rock, plant and seed) into creating living mandalas and altars in memory of those dear and departed. 

Hrieth Pezzi, R.N. and hospice care coordinator, retired

We all walk our holy wars, here. Grief doesn’t spare any of us. It reaches into our chests and rips arteries to shreds in a breath—if it’s in service to evolution. Our comfort is never nature’s priority, our emergence is. So, grief breaks open our hearts, so that deeper life/existence/God may enter through the wound. One thing we can be sure of is that life will unravel us. And we need to be unraveled. Otherwise, we become too calcified and small inside our civilized worlds. Rashani’s art ushers us home to the song of eons that reminds us not only of who we are, but that no matter how deeply we suffer, we are standing alongside each other, for miles and miles—eye to eye, heart to heart. Never alone. This book is a companion to all who know what it is to bleed—and a prayer to bless the breaking. 

Lucy Grace, bestselling author of This Untameable Light, mystic, poet, spiritual guide  

Loss and heartbreak weave through the fabric of every human life and unite us through the universality of the human condition. We are creatures of attachment who dwell in the wild groundlessness of impermanence. Grief is inevitable yet so often swept and hidden in the shadows. Rashani’s art builds a sacred temple around this dark well and says, “Look here! Drink! Know that this place is holy”. Each of these poems, collages and gardens are contemplations on the heartbreak and joy of the human experience and serve as koans into the reality of Grief and Grace as portals into the shared collective Heart.  

Maya Luna, poet, artist and author of the spoken word poetry album, Holy Grail: Her Resurrection, creatrix of the Deep Feminine Mystery School, an emergent body of work centered on the Immanent Divine

This collection is a creation of pure soul, opening the mind to new dimensions of inspiration and awe. The deep wisdom of the poetry is brought to life by the colours and shapes of Rashani’s collages, each one a singular expression of love and gratitude for the gifts of the spirit. Every page is a work of art, bursting into the imagination like a new star in a growing constellation, combining the truth and beauty of words and images to transport the reader into the very heartland of human experience. Let go into the magic of this book, and you will emerge from its pages feeling your luminosity.

C.W. Blackburn, poet; author of Where Words Are Yet To Be Spoken: Poems for Presence and One Hundred Colours of Being: Poems in the Spirit of Zen


P.S. on the last page of the book

An old German proverb says, “Begin to weave and God will provide the thread.” Likewise: when we begin to grieve, Grace will reveal the way. Are we breathing—or being breathed? Are we grieving—or being grieved? Are we actually weaving our lives—or are we being carefully woven, and intricately interconnected by Grace?

What happens when life dissolves who we thought we were or stretches us beyond what we thought we could endure? How do we learn to walk the landless path of loss? This precarious edge can be terrifying. Throughout the well-trodden, pathless voyage—the birth canal of grieving—we are often plunged into the great vat of the unknown.

Often, dualistic thinking begins to dissolve. Once-clung-to beliefs begin to decompose. What was once familiar begins to vanish. Reference points, which previously helped us navigate our way through life, slowly, and sometimes abruptly, disappear. It’s a profound initiation—a sacred shattering and irreversible blessing in disguise—through which we often abandon who we thought we were and become pilgrims on the medicine wheel of wonderment.

When you open your heart to discovery, you will be called to step outside the comfort barriers within which you have fortified your life. You will be called to risk old views and thoughts and to step off the circle of routine and image. This will often bring turbulence. The pendulum will fix at times on one extreme, and you will be out of balance. But your soul loves the danger of growth. In its own wise trust, your soul will always return you to a place of real and vital equilibrium.

John O’Donohue

When we slither out of the worn-out skin of conditioned thinking and let go of the illusion of separateness, the programmed mind becomes a vestigial memory. When we taste a cry deeper than all sound and touch the emptiness too vast for words, when we tremble on the precipice of grief, the dissolution of the concept of a separate self has already begun. The brittle, shielding carapace of identity is being carefully dismembered by a Divine Protector who bestows liberation. Through this holy disillusionment we are invited—and sometimes coerced—to engage with the paradox of opposites like never before. Groundlessness becomes the new norm. Often, we are flung into a direct, unadorned encounter with reality with nothing to grasp. If we are fortunate, we will liquify—as caterpillars do—and re-emerge completely transformed.

During metamorphosis, a caterpillar’s body undergoes a process of tissue-destruction called histolysis, where most of its tissues and organs break down into a kind of cellular soup. This is followed by the rebuilding process called histogenesis, during which the cells reorganize and differentiate to form the adult structures of the butterfly or moth. This transformation is truly remarkable and is a key part of the insect’s life cycle.

A caterpillar’s brain and nerve cells are physically rearranged during the metamorphosis. This would be akin to taking your entire brain, carving it up, then putting it back together backwards… It is unlikely that the caterpillar is aware during the process, more likely it is in a state of suspension.

Chrysalises and cocoons are essential for caterpillars to change into butterflies and moths, just as chrysalis and cocoon-like spaces are crucial for all grieving creatures, including humans. These womblike spaces hold and suspend us while we undergo deep transformation. Trust the process! Surrender everything when you enter this inner sanctum.

Surrendering into grief makes our earth walk more susceptible to grace.

There are as many ways to grieve, and weave, as there are sentient hearts to break open and to be woven together. Hollowed by Grief, Hallowed by Grace is simply one woman’s way.

In wonderment and love,

—Rashani V. Réa

Solar eclipse April 8th, 2024


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