Hank “Grandfather Great Blue Heron” Wolcott is crossing over into the spirit world.
He served many years as an Elder at Art of Mentorings, local nature programs and traveled to distant to communities. In his 80’s he continued to travel and support children and adults in nature based education. He will continue to inspire me to grow in leaps and bounds until my final sunset.
When he passes his dedication to slow community will continue with his final request of a four day Sacred Fire and Community Wake where we will sit in vigil with him until cremation. Our community, more like extended family, is showing up in full force with home hospice care by attending to all of his needs from medical to family support to loving him 24/7.
This week was a beautiful week with teenagers singing him songs as he lie in bed, women elders from the dagara tradition speaking with him about the ancestral times ahead, his mens group around him singing ‘row row your boat’ and the quiet moments of a close friend, holding his hand and stroking his head in his final hours.
Bringing this final rite home is deeply inspiring for me. It certainly takes a community. And we are richer for it. The love I see in the eyes of those around him, tending to him, being with the sacred breath, singing to him, holding him, missing him, is a love awakened, and shared with the living. Life is precious.
Thank you Grandfather for your courageous and inspiring walk, blessings in the next world and your ancestor work ahead.
a letter from our core care team to our greater community…
Greetings Friends and Family of Grandfather Great Blue Heron (Hank),
As many of you know Grandfather Great Blue Heron is approaching the end of his life here on Earth. The signs of his passing are near.
When Grandfather Hank passes, he has requested that we have a 4 Day-Sacred Fire and a Home Vigil during that time. He will be taken to the home of Mark Morey where he will be lovingly prepared by family and friends, clothed in his regalia from his elder initiation with Malidoma Somé. During this time we invite you to come and pay respects to Grandfather Great Blue Heron.
We’re choosing to trust in the ancestral wisdom of extending the funeral for four days, with both a fire and an open casket vigil with Hank. This tradition is practiced in North America, Europe and Asia.
Together we will support the spirit of Hank to release from his body, his home, his community and to journey to the land of the ancestors to continue to do his work in the ancestral realm.
The home vigil involves sitting to accompany Grandfather Hank until the time he is transported to cremation. It is a time to integrate the transition, our loss of having Hank on earth. Our personal expression of grief is allowed in a relaxed and loving atmosphere.
As well, it is a time for shared stories celebrating his life. We can sing, read poetry, comfort each other, create a beautiful space by bringing flowers, candles and greenery. This time allows and encourages us to receive the gift of Hank’s life and let go with love. It is also a time to tend and renew our connections with each other.
There will be a Sacred Fire being tended in the tradition passed on to us by Odawa Peacemaker Paul Raphael. We have held Sacred Fires in the past for elders Ingwe, Gilbert Walking Bull, Jake Swamp and Dale Bryner. However, never before have we also had a Home Vigil with a dearly departed local elder.
There are a variety of ways for people to participate and contribute.
If you feel moved to volunteer, please email the appropriate coordinator with your contact information including the best way to contact you (phone, email, text).
Death is part of the Great Mystery and none of us know when the moment will be when we are called to be of service to Grandfather Great Blue Heron’s passing. When that moment comes, we have a team who will be contacting those of you who offer to volunteer.
Beyond the specific roles, everyone is welcome to come and pay your respects. When the time comes, we will send out a letter with information regarding the Sacred Fire, Home Vigil and particular special moments for the gathering of people including what to bring.
During the 4-Day Sacred Fire & Vigil
All of the following roles will be happening throughout the 4 Days. For more information on what the roles entail, please contact the coordinator or see the link for more information.
1. Tending Sacred Fire (Men)– Head Fireboy: Mark Morey, firstname.lastname@example.org 802-287-1711 (call or text)
2. Tending the Nourishment of People & the Water – Head Woman: Amy Hyatt, email@example.com, 802-275-2904
3. Hank’s Vigil – Krista Oarcea, 845-545-1122 (call or text to sign up for night shifts)
4. Local Hosts for people coming from out of town – Coordinator: Walker Korby, 413-834-4269, firstname.lastname@example.org
In loving respect,
Hank’s Core Care Team:
Laina Gallen, Konstantinos Atsalis, Krista Oarcea, Cara Benedetto, Mark Morey,
Amy Hyatt, Greg & Joy Carder, Becca Martenson