Being with Ancestors

Praising the rooted standing ones and all the ones who have gone extinct. I am sitting on the Ancestors’ bones and on Death seedlings. The vultures are mentoring me to pay attention. 

I must first sit on the ground where all transforms, our earth. Here in the mountains of the South East of France with monk vultures spiralling high in the sky to feast on death and with the beloved haunted wolves only daring to appear in my paintings…

Here I must pause.  

I wish to start by feeding and praising death, life and ancestors.  With a racing heart and with tiny black ants investigating the laptop I type like apocalyptic raindrops. I can hear far below a river enthusiastically chewing at the gorge. Perhaps she longs for an ancestral song that is deeply buried down there. My head spins within the deep time of it all; I just wish to lie down in good company, ears to the soil of the matter. 


In 2017, before Extinction Rebellion was born, I called the community of Totnes to create a Life Cairn – a memorial to honour and grieve extinct species due to human activities. 

Andreas Kornevall, storyteller, ecologist and writer inspired by Norse mythology,  inspired me to call this Life Cairn into being, the very first one in the UK. I am very grateful for the generous and courageous souls who created it with me!

Our Life Cairn is still growing on Sharpham Estate, near Totnes, for all to be with if their heart can bear the truth of the matter.  We must bear it and become the alchemists of soul’s grief if we long to be fully alive!

Prior to its creation, day after day, week after week we met as a community to make flags with children while discovering, honouring and feeling the animals, insects, plants, fungi and other beings that had gone extinct or were on the edge of that threshold…due to human activities.

Each night I would lay my head on the pillow, sometimes too grief-stricken to cry, while hearing within the deep cave of my head a voice saying “today another 200 species have gone, you do not know their names, their choreographies nor their songs but you can still say farewell.”  I did, each night.

When I brought this grief, only compostable with others, I ‘heard’ the words: “unsolvable, this situation is unsolvable, don’t look for solutions for relief.” It was in one of the precious Grief Composting Circles happening in total darkness that I could transform a little, just enough..

It is there, in these ritual spaces, that another layer of intimacy with extinction was revealed to me. I did not know then that extinction also needed intimacy. I could not turn away and it cost me. It is the natural law of ‘things of rituals’ in our tattered world, to become food.

My interwoven relations would never come back. Their songs would be removed from the wild and wondrous orchestra of Life. Their elaborate courting and joyous dances would no longer caress the air we are all breathed into. The vivid and subtle colours of their bodies and longings were being plucked out of the sacred art of the last 4.5 million years, in the blink of an eye. Un-bear-able.

That all-encompassing void. 

The clawing poverty of the fabric of life, thinning at such speed as a result of such voracity was unbearable to my heart and psyche.  

The loss of wild relatives  due to our desperately brutal activities as humans, intrinsically woven with their absolute compassion for us, was radically maddening.. 

All that…was tearing my own soul apart into the most absurd shreds. 

I understood then and there, within the tearing, that extinction was not death. 

I found myself in a territory never ever talked about to me before. I was unprepared, existentially lonely and frightened to live or die. A rough initiation indeed! 

If I was to stay devoted to whom I belong, to our living earth, if I was to keep on keeping on with reverence, I would have to deepen and widen my person while losing my personality. 

I was summoned to support and ‘passage’ the death and birth of a new relationship with being alive as a human.  I am not alone I am glad to say; many are becoming doulas and passages for our dying world.  

Some of us dare to dream of a culture that belongs to the depth of compassion, generosity, presence and reverence that all non-human beings are naturally gifting life.

If extinction is not death, is there a particular temple to craft, to welcome this new being? Our imagination is perhaps required to stretch beyond our abilities…and ‘wilden.’ 


“This tale is no fantasy, it is as true as a potato. The utter bleakness of our world is true. So is the last forest – as real as remembrance and longing. And the four sisters, they are the realest thing about us. They only need to be set free. Everything depends on it.” –

Joanna Macy, World as Lover, World as Self


I am Death – 

The one who guides you through the cycles and seasons of the body and the Soul of your being. I work on behalf of Initiations and of all ensouling Passages ~ for individuals and for all other living systems. I transform stagnation and I create darkness. I destroy and I compost. 

I am Decay and Leaf Mould. I am the most feared of us four because I am uncontrollable and inevitable. I am fractal in the life of all living beings. I am the Small Deaths of the seasonal passages of one’s life. 

I am also the great Death when Kairos says: It is time!  

I am Winter

From Azul Thomé, The Four Sisters of the Last Forest on Earth



There is a passage inviting us to the ancestors’ shore, just after death summons us. 
Unprepared but devoted, I accompanied three humans through this passage: the 40 days and nights to the shore of their well and wise ancestors.

The first human, the one who initiated me into this work, was my mother, France. When she died I was not ready to move on.  I followed a calling, a sacred task, an instruction to remember and birth these ways into our Soul-starving culture. I am her eldest child, her eldest daughter.

Like many of us here, born in such cultural and living poverty, I stumbled between deep intuition, profound trauma, Soul’s longing and wild imagination.  

I sniffed and looked and searched and studied other cultures, religions and faiths – to see what they do when their people die. Something landed; a seed took root, fast like a rocket seed.

The instructions came fast: 

You must start from the West. Create the most exquisite sailing boat to place her in. Her dress and shawl are to be made in the finest hand woven cloth. 

Everything is happening in the sea, at dusk, just before the night wraps her body. 

To the East, very far away, you will perceive the shore of the well and wise ancestors. They are preparing the fire, weaving the songs and drumming the heartbeat of her dream of Life – so your mother will not get lost through the passage. 

Each dusk for 40 days you are to drum and journey with your winged ally, the raven, to accompany France’s crossing. Your mother!

It became clear to me then that we can get lost after death, as we get lost when we are alive. I still had something to do in our relationship, to make sure she arrived safely to the shore of her ancestors.  My mother and I did not have a loving relationship, it was woven with much suffering and trauma.  When she died, all that drama disappeared! I became a passager and for the first time I knew why I came into her life. To build her a boat…and sing her home.

The second person I was moved to accompany after her death was Mary Oliver. A very favourite poet of mine.

The third human I accompanied after her death was Polly Higgins. A sister.

I created a book with images, poems, songs and prose of the 40 Days and Nights.

 Here are some excerpts.

Please read them with your belly full, with generous offerings and with consent.

I choose to share them here to feed our new world where Soul is back in the frontline.



Dear friends and all
I want to share with you that I feel moved to offer a space of 40 days of Mourning and Ancestralisation for our dear Polly’s passage
A space to accompany her soul to the shore of her ancestors.

Would you imagine her laid on a beautiful boat on the ocean of her whole life where through our love and grief we become the wind to her sail so she can reach the shore where all her ancestors can welcome her.

We sing, we drum, we chant, we cry and we remember our encounters with our Polly where we see her in her beautiful boat sailing East.

Here is a space to share our memories, our photos, our love and stories ~ a container to hold and to become ripened human beings. We stay with our dead, we accompany them so they become the ancestors we call on for the journey ahead.

Polly, you will become a magnificent ancestor. It is up to us.

With immense love and deep wild grief . Azul


My dearest Polly , this is a space, like a virtual village shrine, where we can all come to and meet and cry and remember and weave the finest, strongest, filament of soul mycelium with you and between one another.

Here we will imagine you laid into the most beautiful Scottish sailing boat where you can deeply rest wrapped in the finest of handwoven cloth.
Our songs woven in love to become a gentle breeze through the ocean of your life

Here we imagine the shore of your ancestors 40 days and nights away. They are also singing and drumming you back Home where all can be healed and restored. Where the contract with ancestors can be rewritten with gold thread spun from Dark Matter.

Our roles and duty as the living ones are to accompany you there. To be rigorous and awakened to our love and our sacred connections with Grief, Love, Death, rebirth, and Ancestry.

We are relearning the good ways and we will for you and for Life ~ DARE TO BE GREAT ~ renewing our pledge often <3 Missing you in my bones Polly xx


You are still above the Soil for a few more days, Anima Mundi longs to welcome you back within her own bones again.

Meanwhile, for 35 more days and night, we will keep singing and praise and pray for the crossing of your soul to your ancestors.
at 8am UK time ~ We will call and court your ancestors to also sing and praise and pray for you.

The sounds and love will create a mycelium of the finest of gold and black thread.

The Conscientious Protectors mycelium is growing, the Law of Ecocide will pass, your effort will take form, be nurtured and protected.

Rest well beautiful Polly. You are loved <3


This is is your last day above ground, I feel your delight in returning to the soil and to Anima Mundi ~ the Soul of Earth~ to rest deeply, to carry on your journey to the shore of your ancestors.

In our letting you move through with our love and our songs we support this sacred journey.

As a Mother Tree in a forest, your falling has called on all the other trees to strengthen and connect with each other in a new way, with Mycelium as the main connector.

The living system you have left behind is growing strong with new partnership and renewed ones.

So much love <3


Chère Polly
I was drumming and singing on this 15th morning since your death ~ your sails are full, the ocean deep and welcoming of the little boat that carries you East wrapped in the finest and softest of cloth…towards the shore of your Ancestors.

They are feeding the fire. 10000’s of them singing and drumming delighted at your arrival in 25 days and nights.

We~’the living in a body ones ‘ are here to blow wind in your sails and to cherish the sacred seeds and saplings you have left us to care for and protect.

The starlings might come and see you on your beautiful cedar boat.

with deepening love <3

This morning my dear Polly I saw your ancestors throw the finest of threads on the water ~ thread as fine and strong as a spider web and as reciprocal as the filaments of Mycelium. They threw them towards the West (where you now are sailing from) ~

The thousands of threads touched the Ocean of Soul ~ growing towards you ~ not touching your little boat just yet.

I do not want to move on too fast to the next chapter, this one is crucial I sense.
To stay with our love of you

while we miss deeply,
while our chest cracks and aches in wild and subversive dances,
while our hands long for one more embrace, one more cheering, the holding through pain and dancing for life.

40 days and nights as a wild rigorous practice of Love to accompany you from Lady Death to the shore of your awaiting Ancestors.

We can do that. <3 with deep ocean love Polly <3


Beloved Polly ~ This morning in my meditation I sang a little song ~ each note, each sound became water drops in the ocean that carries you to the East, to the shore of your Ancestors. They are well aware that you are almost halfway on your 40 days journey of your crossing…our crossing…the crossing when one we love dies. No one stays the same.

It is initiatory for all, that journey. From leaning out of the void, to life, to living, to death, to dying, to calling the ancestors, to becoming an ancestor, to be called again…

It all matters greatly…that duty of care for our dead as well as for our living ones.

There is an alertness needed that resembles what wild animals are…all senses open, tracking the air, the water, the stone people and the soil…being the air, the water, the stone people and the soil. Tomorrow is half way. A time of risk when life calls us so strongly that we might forget that our darling Polly is not yet welcomed nor wrapped up by her ancestors.

We must stay awake deeper in our songs, our grief, our letting go, our love, our prayers and praises.




Most nights I wake up gasping for air, for company and for arms around my shoulders. What happens in the darkness is what needs to be worked with during the daylight…to mend my separation with Life in solidarity with many sisters and brothers who are also called to mend the broken web as well as listening to the profoundly loving summoning of all other species and beings. 

So every day I must paint my wide family. I must touch and work with trees, sing with the river and place deep rest into our tired soil.  I must make fire and feel the death of the stars sprinkling their heartbreak remedies. 

Each place I go to I paint, to present my intention and pray.  In the last six weeks I have painted on old roof tiles to greet and meet those who live here with me.

Here they are as a fare-well.  

Wolf, stag, owl, vulture, moon and birds.

About the Author

A bit raven, part mycelium, mostly water, Azul Thome’ is an eARTh artist, soul activist, designer of rituals and visionary. After doing a Master of Arts in Ecological Design at Schumacher College that she titled “Collective Grief Rituals as if Life and Death Really Matter, ” she founded SOULand to then offer Grief Composting circles, once a week, in the village hall in Dartington.  In 2016/17 she travelled the world to teach ways of feeding our starved souls and to find apprentices in Soul Activism. At present she is writing  “A Living Art – Pathososphy: Wisdom born of Suffering and Grief.”  SOULand: –

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