A living laboratory for a sustainable human future.

Autumn Equinox And End-Of-Life Workshop

As we pass through the autumn equinox, we can see the seasonal change in our Appalachian forest home. Bees are feasting on the goldenrod flowers, sumac leaves are turning red, and acorns are falling.

At autumn equinox, we celebrate our harvests of squash and corn, and also the ways we have grown individually and as a community. We make corn dollies, exchange our harvests, and have a feast. The next morning, we gather early to sing up the sun.

We also start preparing for the time of death. My friend and SOIL co-founder, Lee Warren, says:

As we move toward a land-based life, we start to see that death is inherent in everything we do. We respect death and decay in the composting process, in the cycles of giving death to animals, or in the cycles of the seasons changing. As we get more familiar with those cycles, we turn towards the idea that human death can be sacred also, an important and even meaningful part of our lives.

Because we’re a residential community at Earthaven, we have the opportunity to get to know each other over a long period of time. When our friend and elder, Kimchi, entered her dying process, she had a community of people who could really honor her decisions and support her. It was such a gift that she let us in close, let us be of service, and hold and support her as she declined and died. We were able to care for the body at home and have a home funeral as well. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life — there’s some portal that opens into whatever we want to call it, the source or spirit world or the great beyond.

We easily share these stories of the meaningful end-of-life home care and death care, including home burials, but rarely share some of the other stories. Stories of the ones who didn’t have their affairs in order before they passed and had not shared their after-death wishes with their family, creating conflict and stress, and thwarting their dreams for how their life savings would benefit future generations.

Now, I am on a mission to encourage all of our community members to prepare their end-of-life papers. Creating clear end-of-life paperwork is important for all stages of life and health. Written documents help loved ones know what to expect, guide our own inner and outer processes and, when the time comes, allow us to turn our attention to the mystery and magic inherent in the dying process.

We offer you a sacred journey to contemplate your end-of-life intentions and prepare the appropriate documents. Lee is leading a five-week online workshop on Conscious Living, Conscious Dying — Preparing for the End of Life starting November 12. This workshop emerged through our own experiences, help from our mentors, wisdom from the dying, and a synthesis of the celebrations and challenges.

Many people have good intentions for getting their end-of-life papers together. I hope that you will take this opportunity to complete this sacred work in a guided, supportive group process.

Conscious Dying, Conscious Living, end-of-life papers, Lee Warren, online workshop, Preparing for the End of Life


NikiAnne Feinberg

NikiAnne (she/her) was born and raised on a horse and cattle ranch on the ancestral lands of the Salinan people in the Central Coast of California. She currently lives at Earthaven Ecovillage on unceded lands of the Catawba and Cherokee (Tsalagi) people. Her ancestors come from Eastern and Western Europe — France, Germany, and English Isles as well as Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia, from Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Throughout the last two decades, NikiAnne has been immersed in community and in service to a wide range of educational endeavors focused on nature connection, personal empowerment, and community resilience. NikiAnne considers herself the grease and glue – that which helps things run smoothly or holds things together. Before co-founding SOIL in 2012, she worked and traveled through much of Asia, the Americas, and Europe, which made her formal education at George Washington University in International Affairs come alive in ways that can only happen through personal experience and relationships. Collectively, these experiences have undeniably shaped her cooperative cultural values and commitment to supporting leaders to think, feel, act and design from a foundation rooted in interrelationship. No matter what she’s teaching, NikiAnne is always on the same mission: to raise awareness of our whole selves – gifts, passions, blind spots, shadows – and help those whole selves find and fill niches in their communities. This is how the web of life is woven, and the fabric of culture repaired. She’s especially eager to support those in transition – between vocations, stages of life, and stories of world and self. Within this context, she is particularly passionate about community grief tending and death care midwifery.

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