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The reality of death is one that all people face at some point. While there are many books exploring the topic of death and dying, few written from a Pagan perspective are as thoughtful and complete as Phyllida Anam-Áire’s The Last Ecstasy of Life. Anam-Áire brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to her understanding of death. In addition to being a psychotherapist—she was a student of Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the psychiatrist who outlined the five stages of grief—Anam-Áire is an experienced follower of Celtic mysteries, a former Catholic nun, a poet and a musician. Above all she brings her own keen spiritual observations about the dying process.
Anam-Áire reflects on dying not as a moment of ending but as a sacred act of Spirit releasing itself from Ego. This is not only a book of theory, however. Interspersed throughout the reader will find poems, meditations, and visualizations that provide important spiritual tools for the dying as well as those who spending time with the dying. In doing so she provides a detailed road map to the transformations that come with death and grief, providing not only philosophical insight but also practical guidance for the journey.
In her close examination of the dying process, Anam-Áire makes ample use of her background in therapy. She provides counsel to those grieving through family conflict, struggling with past hurts or facing emotionally difficult tasks like supporting a friend through the death of a child. Although the subject matter is profound, Anam-Áire writes with a conversational style that makes it approachable and the format invites reflection, giving ample space for readers to contemplate their own thoughts and experiences.
While Anam-Áire writes unashamedly from her own Celtic background, The Last Ecstasy of Life will prove valuable to followers of many different paths as well as those who are just spiritually inclined. Death touches the lives of everyone and it helps to have a wise and experienced guide who has thought deeply about it. Anam-Áire offers herself as just such a guide through this book—it will be well worth your time to take her up on the offer.