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Daily Mail (UK)
November 18, 2001
That's Your Funeral
Singer Tori Amos's beloved Cherokee grandfather instilled in her a strong belief in a spirit world where all our souls live on
by Tori Amos
There was a time when I felt immortal, particularly in my late twenties -- I think that's the only you survive them. As a teenager I wasn't so arrogant: I had a healthy respect for nature. But in my twenties, I would do quite dangerious things. I was a real vigilante if there had been an injustice. I'd chase carfuls of men who cut in front of me on the motorway. Now, I no longer feel any sense of immortality and I no longer take such risks. I don't want to die, especially now that I'm a mother. I'd like to live to 80 and be called "granny". I'm a church minister's daughter and my parents were ferocious in their belief that there is a Heaven and Hell. I was drawn to my maternal Grandfather. He was a haven for me, a lighthouse. A Cherokee, his belief in the spirit world was fluid and warm, not scary in the least. Death, in his view, was part of life. We would die but our soul would continue and there was a Great Spirit that touched everything
He would talk to me about having a relationship with the spirit world; just because you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. He taught me that I needed to respect this, or I wasn't living life to the full. He was very keen to instill in me a philosophy that was not in conflict with the land. he would say "you need to be very aware of the laws of your ancestors. Then you will be able to walk the land, and in both worlds."
Heaven and Hell were not part of his vocabulary, except to make fun of them. His ideas created some family difficulties. his daughter had married into a family with a very different belief system.
The early Amoses were all buried in the Appalachian Mountains in Maryland. My parents have continued the tradition by having their plots picked out there. They even have their gravestones waiting for them.
But I don't want to be buried. My Grandmother was convinced i should be burned as a witch and I think that's probably right, that's how I should go. I think fire is cleansing and beautiful. So i definitely want to be cremated and not put in a confined space.
I don't have anywhere in mind that I would want my ashes to go to -- at least not yet. If I did, I wouldn't say because certain things are private and sacred.
It's my belief that you ditch the body and all the stuff that made you then goes somewhere else, but I don't know where. Although I don't believe in Heaven and Hell I do believe all our souls go on. Not necessarily on Earth -- it's a vast universe after all. I don't know how we would reform, but I think we would find matter and consciousness would take root.
I've had things happen to me -- some health scares, three miscarriages -- that have given me a great respect for life, the miracle of it. I have a lot of respect for the realm of death. I was raped once and thought at the time I was going to die. I didn't think I was going to make it out of there alive. The idea that I hadn't had the chance to tell my mother goodbye was the thing that really kept me thinking and focussed and saved my life. Anger in that sort of situation doesn't work. Anger is not what gets you out.
The three miscarriages were deaths. I had been warned just before the last one that things weren't going well, but I had to do a show in London so, before the show I went to Westminster Abbey, where I lit a candle and said a prayer -- in my own way. We all find our own truth in religion, whichever it may be.
We must not simply wait for death to take us. Assuming that as we get older we don't have anything to contribute is a victim mentality. We don't value our older people in the West. But not all old people necessarily have wisdom. Just because your old, doesn't mean you're wise. you have to really do the work.
I don't want to sit on the sidelines and not value the gift of being here. Instead of the idea of time ticking away, the grains of sand running out, I try to think of time as giving me another grain of sand, another gift. So time passing is an accumulation, rather than a diminishing."
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