© Lisa Weikel

Entering the Abyss

Monday was the second anniversary of my eldest son’s death. (How many times did I type different words, euphemisms, cryptic or veiled references to this truth, only to just hit the backspace button and come back to writing it simply and to the point? Lots.)

Grieving is exhausting. To do it right, it takes a hell of a lot of stamina. And by "doing it right," I mean making an effort not to lose one’s self in the abyss. Allowing your heart, mind, and soul to fly into the crevasses, into the void that allows no light, but also pulling up when it feels like you’ll never take in another breath yourself, and allowing yourself to remember just why it is you mourn.

Creating Ceremony

I cannot even remember what we did last year to commemorate our loss. This year, 11/11 fell on a Monday, so Karl, Maximus, Sage and I were separated, at least physically, each carrying on in the physical world, as best as we could, as if this day were no different than any other.

Unbound as a result of having no appointments with clients, I am free to just be, to listen to Spirit’s guidance as to how best to honor my son. I retreat to the back of our property, behind our barn, where cattails and wild grasses dance in abundance and the carcasses of several dead Christmas trees mingle in a pile of toppled branches, yearning to burn.

Ceremonial Guardians – © Lisa Weikel

Opening my mesa, my ‘sacred bundle’ or ‘medicine bag,’ on the grass, I arrange the objects within it into a configuration that can hold me, not unlike the ceremony I performed on 11/11/11 – twelve hours before Karl drowned.

But before I sit within it, I create Sacred Space by calling in the Directions and the archetypal energies that reside in the North, East, South, West. I call in the spirit and essence of Mother Earth, as well as Father Sun, Grandmother Moon, our Brothers and Sisters of the Star Nations, and of course, the overarching energies of Mother/Father God, Goddess, All That Is.

It is while I am inviting in the energy of Mother Earth, my forehead connected to the ground through the center of my mesa, that I feel the welling from within. I feel Her presence coming up, or perhaps enveloping me is a better description. She is present. She is here. She embodies Mother energy, and She is oh-so-familiar to me, containing within her essence, the memory of my own mother – yet so much more vast.

The tears that yearn to express that bottomless sense of loss arise from my bowels, my womb, the bottom of my spine. Trickling at first, they soon pour from my eyes onto the sacred cloth before me. There are no words. In that moment, I am simply with The Mother. Held by her, comforted by her, knowing that She Knows.

Eventually, as my sobs subside, I talk to Her. "Why do I always cry when I connect with You? What is this? What does this Great Sorrow mean and why do I hold it so?" I’m mostly referring to the times when I have engaged in ceremonies in which my connection to her has been augmented by her plant children – though certainly not always, some of which I’ve written about. My connection to the Mother goes way back – and has always, always been accompanied by Sadness.

The Paradox

I lift my face from the cloth and look around. The honeybee that alighted on my hand when calling in the Directions has disappeared, but a yellow butterfly flits by, right in front of me, and nonchalantly lights upon a stalk of straw a few feet from where I kneel. Behind my left shoulder, a screech owl calls out two times – then is silent. It’s early afternoon…I’m definitely not alone.


© Karen Gallagher

In a realization that is beyond words and seems to arrive on the breeze, I understand that I carry this Sorrow – Her sorrow – precisely because I Know Joy. I Know Love. All at once, I feel as if I embody the paradox that resides in feeling the grief of losing a love that can never be lost.

It is both the ultimate burden and the ultimate privilege. I carry the pain because I live the joy.

I don’t like to "go there," but I’m committed to its necessity. I will not deny my pain. I will not deny the void that resides within my heart that will never be healed. Yet, I much prefer to focus upon what lies beneath the loss. And to get there, I have to go through it, through the pain; I must refuse the urge to turn away because it hurts too much and just go there. As often as it takes.

Because underneath it all, there is Love. And love, ultimately, is all there is. It’s what we want, what we fear, what we seek, what we’re terrified of losing, and what we would not exist without.

I saw this video this morning and saw in it a reflection of my experience on Monday afternoon. It made me realize that, yes, we must face our greatest fear – by loving fiercely. Every day. Knowing that it could end in the blink of an eye. And yet never, ever. Not truly.


November sunset © Lisa Weikel



Photo by neotint


It seems as if all I ever do is write about messages, both publicly and privately. Asking for them. Looking for them. Getting them. Receiving them. Paying attention to them. What happens if you don’t pay attention to them…

It’s that last one that can get pretty dicey if you’re not careful. I probably write about the perils of not listening, or not paying attention to, or worse yet, not acting on messages I’ve heard and paid attention to (and perhaps even given lip service to – by what? By writing a blog post or two on the subject?) more than I care to admit even to myself. But here it is. Again.

Don’t get me wrong. I do my best to walk my talk and pay attention to the messages I receive daily. And yes, when I’m ‘tuned in,’ I get messages a lot. Every day. Indeed, I rely on my abilities to discern meaning in the seemingly mundane, and I devote a good amount of care and attention to paying attention, listening deeply, and noticing little things that might easily be overlooked.

Photo by Jeff Tidwell

Ummm, Don’t Drink It?

And I do this for and on behalf of my clients. And my friends. And my family. Every day.

So why in the world do I keep insisting upon writing about and seemingly harping upon the necessity for all of us to not only pay attention to the messages we receive but to heed them by acting upon them? Because it can be a real kick in the ass when we don’t.

One example? If you’ve read my book Owl Medicine (available as an ebook, too!), you know that my refusal to listen to the messages I was receiving ended up with a face-plant in a creek that easily could have killed me but luckily only resulted in a broken tooth, spectacular bruises, and many weeks of barely being able to walk without assistance.

And I’d like to spare you the pain if I can. Because as seasoned as I am in being a messenger, the responsibilities that come with being the messagee, and there are indeed responsibilities with that role, too, can be seductively easy to shirk. Yes, even for a messenger.

Don’t Just Sit There – DO Something!

So, don’t beat yourself up for not being perhaps the best listener to, or ‘receiver’ of, messages. Instead, make a point to take one step, every day, to not only pay attention and listen, but then also to act on a message you’ve received.

See what happens.

And if you know you’ve received a message, but can’t quite figure out what it means or how you might act upon it, feel free to reach out to me. I’d be glad to give you my perspective and help you figure out what the message might mean specifically to you.

Gratitude Goes a Long Way

One more thing: I don’t mean to imply that every message we receive requires an ‘outward’ or public action. Hardly. However, every message we receive does deserve acknowledgment and at least an inner appreciation that paves the way to receiving more messages. That’s why I tell all my clients: "If you receive a message, honor it. At the very least, acknowledge and appreciate it by writing it down. If the message requires further action on your part, then by all means, act. But even if the message is just an indication that you’re on the right path, that you’ve made a good choice, or that the direction of your thinking is ‘on track…,’ well, be grateful! Write it down! Show your Higher Self or your Guides, or whomever is communicating with you that you appreciate their efforts and you’re listening."


Photo by Lisa Weikel


What do you think? Do you receive messages? And if so, do you make a point of demonstrating your appreciation? Do you act upon your messages? How could you be a better ‘receiver?’