Eine Reise zur Goldenen Königin (A Journey to the Golden Goddess): über die Bedeutung von Mythen im Umgang mit dem Tod  (About the meaning of myths in dealing with death)

In my thesis I explore ways in which myths, in a broad sense, can help with engaging and nourishing a more peaceful relationship with one’s own death. When reflecting on death in my culture (German) the Grim Reaper was the image that was most present for me. Since I experienced that image as rather brutal and not very helpful, I thought – there must be more to death than this! My thesis became an exploration of this “more”. My wish was to research with my heart – and I found the framework, which enabled me to do so – storytelling, art-based research and auto-ethnography. To establish the background, I looked into different aspects of death – the places of death in society, dealing with one’s own mortality and grief. I then investigated the different functions myths can have and how they can help to engage with death. The core of my thesis is the theoretical and artistic exploration of different female figures of death and what they can teach one about death.

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To write, think about, feel and live with death so close for an intensive year has led me through quite some harsh and dark, but also beautiful inner and outer landscapes. Writing the thesis was sometimes quite a lonely path and I was grateful that I could find company in my hospice training group, especially during times when fear of dying or losing someone I love overwhelmed me. The fact that I could paint as a research method, enabled firstly , a liberation of my inner scientist and artist. Secondly, I often felt that the colours flowing through my hands were the only means by which I could truly express my feelings and experiences. I discovered different myths and figures of death – around me and inside of me. I have not found a truth about death but I was able to befriend it more. What continues after the writing process is the learning of dying by living and learning to live more fully through the invitation of death into my life.

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