Midwifing Death - Leslene della-Madre

Iain Whittaker, Psychopomp

2013 is the year of Reclaiming - reclaiming our bodies, our birth rites, our wisdom and our own authority. And so I am very happy to see that the amazing women of the School of Shamanic Midwifery are hosting the Australian tour of Leslene della-Madre, author of Midwifing Death. Isn't it time that we reclaimed the sacred threshold of death for our loved ones and for ourselves?

Leslene is author, poet, grandmother, shamanic spiritual midwife and initiate of several shamanic healing traditions including Native American. After many years of groundbreaking work as a spiritual midwife, Leslene realised that the same skills and wisdom called on at birthing could be used to assist the dying.


"Midwifery is usually associated with birth and babies. After training in spiritual midwifery, giving birth to two daughters, mothering foster children and becoming a crone, I have observed that the same skills needed for attending birth can be brought to the bedside of the dying.  I also learned that a lifetime of knowledge and wisdom carried in the wombs and hearts of women can be very healing for the dying—and that these skills are what I refer to as “mothering skills”. They are based in compassion, empathy, beauty, humility and openness to “knowing”—an animal wisdom kind of knowing. 

Life and death are not opposites. Death is integral to the whole/holiness of the sacred web of all that is. In this experiential workshop with slides, movement, trance, song and sacred theater and whatever arises in spontaneity/gaiety we will explore a way of viewing death that actually comes from the realm of our pre-patriarchal ancestors. Very little is known or taught about how our early ancestors lived, and in this space together we will learn from them and bring forward a much needed shamanic integration about life and death for body mind and spirit. We will also learn what it means to “midwife” death in our current time and how to transform fear about death into pure love."  Leslene della-Madre

In our shamanic practice with The Swan Blessing we sit with clients as they witness their own deaths in past lives and very often they see the moment of the soul's transition from that life back into the spirit world. This moment is so gentle, full of wonder and beauty. Through this work, I have lost so much of my own fear of death, something I feel we have been taught by a society that, particularly in the western world, still regards death as taboo. We do not want to face death. We can barely talk about it and yet, of course, it is inevitable. I believe the wisdom that Leslene is bringing to share with us in Australia is vital. Imagine the lives we will live when we no longer fear death. What deep well of ancestral wisdom is awaiting return? What sacred rites and songs are still being held in the marrow of our bones? If we can step through our own threshold of fear we may remember a time long ago when we could embrace the sacred event of death as an initiation of the soul back into the spiritual realm.

You may find yourself called to this work and wisdom without even knowing why. I would simply say to you: return. Return to your knowing of life without fear of death. Perhaps you may have someone in your family and life who is approaching this sacred threshold. Or you may even be feeling a calling back into an ancient practice of caring for the dying that you had not previously understood. In this time of reclaiming we are remembering so many roles of honour and sacred service that have been suppressed for a long, long time. I believe that when work like this presents itself, it will call you. I will be attending the Melbourne workshop and I hope to see you there.

Midwifing Death - Leslene della-Madre Workshops in Australia:

Blue Mountains NSW: Fri 12-14th April 2013
Brisbane QLD: Fri 19-21st April 2013
Melbourne VIC: Fri 26-28th April 2013 

 For full workshop and ticket information, please go HERE.