Today at dinner, Rio wanted to know where we go when we die. She’s very interested in death lately. I keep telling myself, and all the other adults she’s freaking out with her questions about it, that this is a perfectly normal developmental stage for a kid her age (four going on thirty).

We had a long talk about the Summerlands, the fey island Reclaiming Witches tell stories about visiting between incarnations. We talked about what kind of fruit trees grow there, and the ancestors we can meet and talk with when we travel there at the end of our own lives.

Then Rio wanted to know if the Summerlands are Real. Not fairy-tale Real, but “really, really Real”. Normally I’d answer this with a standard line from my Waldorf training, “As real as real can be.”

But tonight she wanted more. She wanted an answer. I told her that I could tell her the stories about the Summerlands, but that she could only learn the truth about what happens after life by listening to her own spirit. We discussed some ways to do this: through music, dance, art, walking in nature.

Finally, she wanted to know where the Summerlands are. This whole conversation had the air of Mystery; one of those rare moments that get caught in the amber of memory when a kid asks an important question and listens with her whole self to the answers.

“The Summerlands are behind the Veil,” I said.

Rio laughed. “Pshaw, Mama. The Summerlands are in Outer Space! I know that!”

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