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As the Last Leaf Falls: A Pagan's Perspective on Death, Dying & Bereavement, Kristoffer Hughes. THERE ARE A myriad of books for the Pagan community on the cycles of life and our celebration of the mysteries in light of the cycle. It is rare to encounter a book that tackles the topic of death, treating not only the emotional and messiness of the end of life while examining profundity of the experience for those dying and the loved ones that they leave behind. In As the Last Leaf Falls, Kristoffer Hughes takes on a journey that is in every sense of the word transformative.
Many books that deal with the subject of death and the afterlife rely on myth and philosophy as the springboard to tackle such a consequential topic. Hughes has taken a completely different approach. Immediately eschewing both sentimentality and sensational ghoulishness. Instead, As the Last Leaf Falls takes us through the process of death through the depth of the personal experience as seen through authors eyes. In each instance, his meticulous narratives allow us to experience depth of the moment. At times allowing for empathy for the dying, resonance with the bereaved, as well as insight into the job of the postmortem professional.
Hughes scaffolds his treatise in the lore Druidry and its understanding of a “Three Worlds” structure. While initially this might seem constraining or off putting to the general community, it is ultimately his ability to rise above stricture that champions. He has taken the Three Worlds view of Druidry and made it immediately accessible to the broad community of Pagans. The book is divided into four sections. The first three are devoted to the Three Worlds. Each section begins with an exposition of the World that is being treated. His discussion is direct and unencumbered in its consideration. In fact, there is an ease that allows the reader interpret the principles via his own lens of belief. Finally, Hughes provides a detail of rituals to be performed through the death process with the dying individual, preparing the body of the deceased and funeral rites. Again, his treatment is direct while remaining dignified and empathetic to the bereaved.
As the reader moves through the volume, they are invited to experience the writers encounters with death in an unfiltered manner. Again, his does this with devolving into exhibitionism. These are the basis for meditations and exercises which facilitate deeper understanding of the end of life. There are many books that almost invite the reader to quickly ingest, As the Last Leaf Falls entices the reader to dig deep and to slow down. This surely will become a classic that will be a must read for the solitary Pagan as well as the Priest ministering to the dying and the bereaved.