Eco-Thanatology, the study of living and dying in relationship with the earth, seeks to explore archetypal and rhythmic ways of being within nature, sound, and the continuous becoming, even unto our dying, that is a human life.
As a music-thanatologist for over a decade (www.chaliceofrepose.org), I have been engaged in a rhythm of daily fruitful relationship with those who are dying, and especially those who are living into their dying within the lifeworld of dementia. Living within this transformational conjunction of prescriptive and musical sounding, contemplative being, and intellectual and clinical reasoning, I have been increasingly drawn into the meditative study and research of the interplay of subtle rhythms within the body and spirit in relation to sound and earth.
As a harpist, composer, and beekeeper, I have been led to a deeper understanding of rhythmicity as a unifying principle within the human and natural world. The intertwining rhythms of body and world reveal to us the myth of linearity in earth, body, and being, and this is most fully revealed through the dying process.
The subtle rhythms of life are seen and unseen, manifest and intangible, experienced in the moment and also only known as waves from the past. They flow towards us from the unknown future. The person who is actively dying shows us this. This person may seem encased within the subtleties and contradictions of a body that is no longer seeking homeostasis as we have known or imagined for the developing body. Unraveling and unbinding have become the new level of being, the new rhythmic form of life and growth.
With the honeybees, birds, and bells as emblems for study and meditation, eco-thanatology explores this rhythmic movement of time, light, and transformation in nature and human beings. These rhythms are most fully assimilated through the organic flow-forms of light and sound as experienced within our most intimately known dwelling place – the place we call home. As musicians, as we seek to live and explore within the fertile space of conscious listening relationship, our innate empathy for the myriad tones of the world is awakened and the potential of our living and sounding is expanded through this integrating element of tonal empathy.
Linda M. Schneck