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The Last Ecstasy of Life

Celtic Mysteries of Death and Dying

Published by Findhorn Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

A guide to the sacred stages of the death and dying process viewed through the eyes of a Celtic anam-áire

• Emphasizes how shadow work, integrating past wounds, and healing our ancestry allows us to facilitate the ecstatic transition into the next life

• Offers exercises and visualizations to help us integrate emotions like anger and grief, which impact the soul’s readiness to leave the body when the time comes

• Discusses what happens to our cells when we die with regard to the human energy field and explores the soul’s journey through the aítes or bardos

In the Celtic tradition dying is considered an act of birthing, of our consciousness passing from this life to the next. Informed by an early near-death experience, spiritual midwife and former nun Phyllida Anam-Áire offers an intimate overview of the sacred stages of the dying process seen through the lens of her Celtic heritage. Compassionately describing the final dissolution of the elements, she emphasizes how important it is to resolve and integrate our psycho-spiritual shadows and wounds in this lifetime. What truly heals is our capacity for authentic compassionate love--in life, in death, and after. Healing our ancestry before leaving the body eases not only our transition but sets future generations free from old stories held in our family systems.

Sharing her insights into God consciousness, our earth/ego mind, and the soul’s journey through the Aíte or bardos, Phyllida’s poetic words guide us toward the final ecstasy as the soul leaves its material form and enters the vast Universal Heart of cosmic energy. Providing a deep spiritual understanding of the mysteries of death and the afterlife, this courageous book combines Celtic and Christian wisdom to dispel the fear of dying and invites us to live consciously and with love to our very last breath.

From Part 2: The Elements Leaving the Dying Form

What Happens to the Cells in the Body When We Are Dying


When we are dying, something very special happens in our sacred physicality to support the soul leaving the body. The electromagnetic energy centres in the body begin to lose their inner strength. I believe that this is when the light begins to dim in the cells of the body. Our full biological attention is given over to the dying process. When the light starts to diminish, the cell can no longer hold the energy and so deterioration begins. I was allowed to experience this dying process myself in meditation whilst still in good health.

As the life force leaves the body from the feet upwards, the light also leaves in this direction and so the trillions of cells in the whole body begin to sing the requiem for the form that is undergoing this transformation. The way I described this surreal experience was as if the sounding tones and hues from the exiting energy fields ascended, flowed into the music of the spheres back into formlessness and into consciousness again. This was for me, an extraordinary feeling, as if the physicality was also going through its own enlightenment. When the body dies and when the life force no longer supports the deteriorating cellular systems, the light goes out literally and the outer house is in darkness. The body is without the divine activator as the soul has returned to the great illumination.

During this Near--Death Experience I was fully aware of each movement within my physiology, each impulse. Each tiny movement was felt to a heightened degree and as the lights were dimming in the centre of my cellular system I knew I was in control and could stop the process at any time using a certain kind of oojay breath, known as a sound or snoring breath, thus enlivening the form again. I believe that as the light travels through the body, leaving the body bereft of any voluntary movement, the heart still feels the magnificence of life force and continues supporting the soul in its last grand exit. The heart eventually also gives up the ghost or soul and bows to the angel of death. The Universal Heart then wraps the entity in deep, penetrating Love.

As the body’s energy field or consciousness no longer has enough magnetism to hold onto the physical, to remain earthed, it moves in an anti--clockwise spiralling direction towards the top of the head, the third eye chakra. Then the state of consciousness changes as the soul is now less earthed and we experience what we call ‘the tunnel experience’. This is the place where, if there is unfinished business from the life just lived, we will review this life in the light of grace and non--judgment. It is the place of so called darkness, as we have not yet fully ascended. At this stage we might not be able to take in the full electrical charge of light, as we may still be attached to ego mind where we experience the pain we inflicted on others. This stage is very short as we are still in transit to the illuminative light. The more we can keep our undivided attention on the light the more we will spiral upwards. If we have not been disciplined in our life journeys, we will be distracted very easily at this stage of our dying. But as light attracts light, and we no longer have the magnet energy to draw us or keep us attached to earth, or to the life just lived, we will be guided by the greater light.

A Physiology of Soul

So maybe we can talk about the physiology, the homing place of life force within our biology as the electromagnetic light and life force or even love force that imbues all creation with movement and being. Maybe we can conclude that the soul has its being in the very nuclei, the very photons of light in the cellular structure of our human physicality. It is the spiritual DNA that lights up the whole of creation and us too.

May we learn to live Love so that the light can shine in the cells of our bodies and so lighten our own inner worlds of consciousness, infiltrate our biology and then affect the worlds of the collective.

The egg of possibility
Hatches in our readiness
To bring our creative soul
Into the soil of our ancestors.
Thus contributing to the telling of
A brand new story
Not only for our own next earthing
But also for our children's children
To the seventh generations.

Phyllida Anam-Áire, a former Irish nun, as well as grandmother and therapist, who trained with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, has worked extensively with the sick and dying. She offers Conscious Living, Conscious Dying retreats in Europe and gives talks on children and dying to nurses and palliative care workers. Also a songwriter, she teaches Celtic Gutha or Caoineadh, Irish songs or sounds of mourning. The author of A Celtic Book of Dying, Phyllida lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“Devotionally humble, radically conscious, and gently profound. The Last Ecstasy of Life gives us the lost answers to the most burning questions of our time: What is life for? And what part does death play in this continuum? Phyllida Anam-Áire illuminates for us the natural way of birth and death through ancient wisdom. She illustrates the journey of the soul through the stages beyond leaving form.”

– Elina von Herzklang, doula and near-death experiencer

The Last Ecstasy of Life is a book to be absorbed at a cellular level, as it speaks to the soul in each of us. I felt a deep sense of joy as I read it. The language and essence is one of love and deep compassion. I know going forward it will be a loving companion on my life journey, offering sustenance, re-hearting, and a constant reminder of what we truly are.”

– Bethan Elsdale, RCST, UKCP Reg, IoB, psychotherapist and craniosacral therapist

“This book is groundbreaking. I felt so warmly welcomed into its pages where I was ecstatically inspired by the abundance of life force in death, in dying, in life. Phyllida shows us how to live and die fully through our heart and soul with her deep compassion and wisdom on every page. This book is a soul companion for life and death.”

– Croilan Greta Pattison, MBACP (Snr Accred), psychotherapist, teacher of Celtic consciousness, and gu

“A timely and courageous book, Phyllida’s words take us deeply into the mystery of life and death. Understanding death as part of our evolutionary spiritual journey through life, it is seen as a great adventure where the soul is freed to transition into a higher vibrational state of unbounded wholeness, beyond the material world. Phyllida takes a fresh look at the dying process, describing with deep love and sensitivity the final dissolution of the elements and absorption of the soul into the Universal Heart of unconditioned cosmic energy. This is deep wisdom, reassuring, practical, and loving--an essential guide for each one of us preparing for our own conscious death and an invaluable support for those accompanying others making their final passage.”

– Sara Arivanna Trevelyan, M.D., psychotherapist, Brennan Healing Science practitioner, and One Spirit

“I so recommend this book. In beautifully poetic language and poetry, Phyllida Anam-Áire presents an integration of spiritual insights, deep knowledge and understanding of the process of dying, and authentic personal experiences and insights. Her love and compassion, which have brought light and comfort to so many, shine through on every page.”

– Frances de Vries Robbe, R.N., esoteric healer and Access Consciousness practitioner

“Beautifully written and presented, The Last Ecstasy of Life contains much information that will be of great help and support to all those who are involved with death and dying--those who are undergoing the dying process, their relatives, friends, caregivers, and supporters. It is also of interest for anyone who wishes to understand more about the great mysteries of life and death. Phyllida writes with a flowing, colourful, and poetic style and covers practical, emotional, spiritual, and esoteric aspects of the experience of dying. This book may raise many questions for the reader, and perhaps one may disagree with aspects of it; but this is good, for without discussion and the free exchange of differing points of view, there can be no advancement of true knowledge. I would recommend this important book, so timely in our world of the chemical and materialistic approach to the phenomenon of death, as a gift of Light in a darkening world.”

– Jacqueline Kemp, BscHon (psychology), ATCL, ALLCM, Reiki master and author of Size Zero and Beyond

“Phyllida Anam-Áire lets us participate in her own experiences, insights, and amazing understanding about living, dying, death, and rebirth into a new existence. She paves the way to a new consciousness. The Last Ecstasy of Life is key to delving deeper into the mysteries of love and overcoming the fear of death. It explains the connections between healing and spiritual evolution and how immensely important it is to heal the psychic pain of our imprints while we are still alive, to be able to face death very consciously in peace, in a final ecstasy.”

– Alannu-Doris Hogger, healer and psychotherapist