Today is tomorrow, and present, past,
Nothing exists and everything will last.
There is no beginning, there was no end,
No depth to fall, no height to ascend.
There is only this moment, this flicker of light,
That illuminates nothing, but oh! So bright!
For we are the spark that flutters in space,
Consuming an eternity of a moment’s grace,
For today is tomorrow, and present, past.
Nothing exists, and everything will last.
- Jane Roberts
So many times over the past two weeks, Karl has been referred to as a flare or a meteor speeding through the sky with a white-hot intensity.
And that is how he lived his life.
It was as if he were here to live life as a giant sushi sampler – tasting absolutely delightful pieces, but not indulging in an entire platter of anything.
Karl lived a fascinating life. I must admit that for most of his 30 years, well, at least the last 20, his father and I couldn’t quite figure out his approach. On the one hand, he lived what many would call a “charmed life.”
He was great at everything he touched. Not just good. Not even just really good. He was outstanding at pretty much everything he tried:
◦ He was an amazing artist, winning first prize at the Tinicum Art Festival the first time he entered a piece
◦ He learned to DJ and then how to compose electronic music – and published a CD
◦ He went to Norway and easily made a semipro soccer team without even seeming to blink an eye
◦ And who can forget his various antics on stage? (Which eventually got him into NYU and the Tisch School of the Arts)
◦ Even when he left Tisch and decided to sell art on the streets of New York, he was “discovered” by a manager who also happened to be in charge of all the animation on Times Square. Times Square! And through that “chance” meeting, he was offered an animation position and signed with his manager for both modeling and acting. Months later, he was set to audition for sitcoms and meet the President of SONY – on New Year’s Eve – but consciously and deliberately walked away from it all.
Time after time, Karl stood poised on the brink of success, at the doorway to fame, and on the threshold of substantial earnings. And time after time, he turned away from it. It was quite vexing.
But this “walking away” was not the only way he made a statement. He also gave away most of what he owned – willingly, open-heartedly, and without regret. He was known to give the shirt off his back, the food out of his mouth. He was generous to a fault (and believe me, Karl and I often felt it was a fault – since most of what he gave away, we’d given to him).
But even that fact turned out to be a lesson to his father and me. It taught us, relatively early on (OK, it took a good several years, but we finally caught on) that if we are going to say that we’re giving a gift, then it really needs to be unconditional. When a gift is given with a pure heart, then the recipient’s choice of what to do with that gift is no business of yours whatsoever. That’s hard to accept, though, when you’ve given your son a coat – and you know he’s cold (again) because he gave it away to someone else.
For a long time we wondered, “Is he afraid of success? Of failure?” We wracked our brains to try to understand why he seemed to insist upon walking away from every golden opportunity that landed in his lap.
And we would scratch our heads when we contemplated the fact that Karl’s power animal, the creature whose energy seemed to make itself known to him and to us from when he was a small boy at Tinicum Township Elementary School, was the Raccoon. Some primary attributes associated with Raccoon are “Generous Protector,” and truth be told, Karl’s father and I often felt that he was living the opposite of the lessons associated with his power animal, since he couldn’t really be either generous or a protector if he kept turning his back on every opportunity to acquire an income or stature or power...
It was only just last year that we really started to see Karl in a completely different light. We’d attended a family wedding in Michigan and it was the first time we’d had an opportunity to all be together for almost a year and a half. We’d had a fantastic time together and Karl, as usual, had entertained the entire wedding party, extended family and close friends, after the rehearsal, regaling everyone with tales of his adventures and bawdy jokes, and been a hit at the reception as well.
The following day, we found ourselves in Ann Arbor, where Karl would be catching a bus back to the Pacific coast. It was going to be a three day journey, generally an unpleasant adventure, and we knew he wouldn’t have a chance to eat much of anything decent. So we had lunch at an Indian restaurant and made a point of ordering more than we needed, so he could take a couple helpings’ worth of leftovers.
We’d had such a great time being together again, and none of us wanted to say goodbye. So we walked around Ann Arbor, enjoying the summer sunshine and exploring the town together, deliberately putting off the time when we would have to say goodbye.
As we walked past the park in the center of town, there were a couple of people sleeping on benches and otherwise giving the appearance of being homeless. One guy, however, seemed to spot us from afar – or rather, spotted Karl – and I noticed him make a beeline in our direction. As he approached Karl and Karl, who were walking together, ahead of Sage and me, an invisible signal or an energetic recognition seemed to occur between Karl and the guy, who mumbled, “Hey man, I’m really hungry. Ya got anything for a brother?”
Immediately, and without even seeming to think twice about it, Karl reached into his backpack, where he’d carefully placed the leftovers, took them out, and offered them to the man. “Here ya go, bra. Enjoy.”
Karl, Sage and I just looked at each other. Something clicked when we witnessed that interaction. It was in that moment that we realized that there truly was something more - a lot more – going on with Karl and the way he was choosing to live his life than we’d been giving him credit for.
As Ed Ruisz, Karl’s social studies teacher and first track coach in high school said many a time, “To Karl, rules were just a suggestion.”
It’s a basic rule in our society that if you have a natural talent, you exploit it. If you have natural beauty or handsomeness, you exploit it. If you’re gifted at making people laugh or creating art that runs across the page, you exploit it.
If you live in the Wild West where most people make up the rules as you go along, you “live and let live,” you don’t get involved in other people’s business. You look away when someone smacks his girlfriend around and she’s too “dumb” or powerless to leave him. Nor do you call the police when people are assholes.
Days before he died, Karl didn’t accept those rules. So he stepped in. He got right into the thick of it. And he got bitten for his trouble.
Now, he didn’t die from his bite. But he was freaked out by the prospect of getting HIV or Hep C and not having the power to compel the guy to get tested – to simply get tested – unless Karl pressed charges, which he wouldn’t do. It wasn’t right. It didn’t feel just. But it was the way it was.
Karl was an idealist. He always landed on his feet. He always seemed to manage to get enough to survive – and was happy with that. So when we learned of his death, heard the tales of his last selfless acts, and read the attributes of Raccoon yet again, we suddenly realized – much to our discomfort – that he’d been living true to his nature all along.
Protector of the underdog,
Provider for those who have none.
Do you wear the bandit’s mask
To hide the good deeds that you’ve done?
Teach me to turn away from
Rich rewards or worldly acclaim,
Knowing that my generosity allows
My warrior spirit to be reclaimed.
My son – our son – Maximus and Sage’s brother – was a warrior. He masked his generosity and sweet, soulful spirit with a façade of playfulness and irreverence, and sometimes quite the “attitude.” But ultimately, he was a protector – and a generous one at that.
I am proud to call myself “Karl Weikel’s mother.” And I will miss him forever.
We've received an amazing array of original pieces of artwork, prose, and other creations by Karl's friends. Here is a musical tribute to Karl that was composed by his friend Ben Rafferty.
A Gathering to Honor Karl's Life and Spirit
On 26th November, 2011, the family and friends of Karl Daniel Weikel held a Gathering at Tinicum Park, Bucks County, PA, to honor Karl's life and spirit. Those who attended helped prepare an “Aya” Despacho in honor of Karl. An Aya Despacho, or “Despacho for the Dead,” is a collection of prayers and reminiscences prepared specifically to bring closure energetically to Karl’s time here on Earth. The prayers and intentions placed into an Aya Despacho fuel the continuation of life and help propel the departed to the Other Side.
Karl's Rainbow (Photo courtesy of Sammy Ibrahim)
The despacho ceremony is the core of the ceremonial practices and healing interventions of the Andes. The word “despacho” means either (as a verb) to dispatch, or (as a noun) a message of great importance sent with haste. Despachos can be done as offerings of thanksgiving or atonement, or as petitions for assistance or guidance. The ceremony is done from the heart and is seen as an act of love and a reminder of how we are connected to all things.
The despacho is a gift to the earth, rivers, and mountains, an opportunity to show and say we do care – a direct communication with the sacred. As the despacho is created, it realigns aspects of self with the divine creation. It is an engagement of Love (“Munay” – the sacred heart).
In this tradition, we believe that everything is connected. Sometimes, however, circumstances or experiences can make us feel (or be) out of alignment or disconnected. If we heighten our awareness and stay in our hearts, we come into balance. Thus, when we perform a despacho, we bring life back into balance and embrace the interconnectedness of all. We reconnect to ourselves, to each other, and to all life heart-to-heart. A despacho takes our prayers and intentions to Spirit and brings us all to a heightened awareness of our interconnection and place in the Universe. By offering our prayers and intentions, for ourselves and for Karl, and creating a work of beauty with those prayers, we restore balance, embrace compassion, and allow a realization of what truly matters in life.
Special thanks to Stevi Belle for being a great mentor and teacher. The "recipe" for our Aya Despacho was adapted from her handbook: The Beauty and Power of Despacho Ceremony: A Tradition of Andean Spirituality and Healing.
Description of the Layers and Photographs
1st layer - Earth Despacho
The bottom layer of an aya despacho represents the Uhupacha (under or lower world), the unmanifested potential;
We build a southern cross (since this tradition originated in the southern hemisphere) with white sugar, representing the family.
In this layer we honor the first world of the Stone People (Puru Kuna) and we make offerings to them.
Traditionally, in an aya despacho, yellow flowers are used as kintus (which, in a regular despacho, are created by putting three coca leaves together in a fan-like shape). We blow our prayers into kintus and then place them clockwise into the despacho - in Karl's Despacho, we used the yellow flowers as the first kintus and placed them around the center flower.
The yellow flowers used in this layer honor the Karl's unmanifested potential. (It should be noted that we had a plethora of flowers of many colors, so I tried to use mainly yellow, but did use other colors as well.)
Other offerings made in the base (Uhupacha) layer can be:
◦ Mica (for lost soul parts);
◦ sand (for Pachamama);
◦ eggshells (the place where we all begin;)
◦ candy rocks * (a sweet representation of Huancas and Pachamama);
◦ gold and silver glitter (representing precious metals obtained from deep within the earth);
◦ Copal (an aromatic gleaned from the earth to invite the spirits)
* We put in a few pieces of actual rose quartz that a friend of the family who attended the Gathering had brought. I also sprinkled sage since I didn't have any Copal.
If we were making a "traditional" aya despacho using kintus of coca leaves - or bay leaves or other green leaves - (as opposed to one made primarily of massive quantities of kintus made of flowers), we would then cover all those kintus and offerings with yellow flower petals.
Base layer - cross of sugar for family
Base layer - Earth
Base Layer - Earth
2nd Layer - Sacha Kuna (Plant People)
The 2nd Layer of the Aya Despacho is the "home" of the Plant People (Sacha Kuna), hence the use of green tissue paper.
First we created a circle of yellow flower kintus. (All of the flowers we used had been held by the family and friends attending Karl's Gathering, and had been specifically invited and requested to blow their prayers for Karl, for themselves, for their loved ones...their memories...into the flowers - thereby creating our unique "flower kintus.")
Other ingredients we added included:
◦ Quinoa (sacred grain, very high in protein, that is essential to survival at very high altitudes of the Altoplano;
◦ Rice, (representing the fertility of our prayers);
◦ Lima beans (to represent the places from which we source our energy);
◦ Garbanzo beans (to represent Huacas);
◦ Squash seeds (native to the "New World" and sacred, especially to the North American indigenous people);
◦ White Beans (an offering to the Sacha Kuna).
2nd (Green) Layers - Water & Earth
2nd (Green) Layer - Earth
2nd (Green) Layer - Earth
3rd Layer (Uywaka Kuna) - Animal People
For this layer, we're supposed to use any color tissue paper except white (which is saved for the last layer). We chose to use orange for Karl's despachos.
We created a circle of flowers, clockwise (blowing prayers into everything we place into each layer, by the way - adding our prayers to the prayers already added by the participants in the Gathering...
On top of the circle of flowers, we added the following offerings:
◦ at least seven different kinds of animal candies or cookies, of which we had an assortment.
◦ we also added some fur from Karl's beloved pets.
3rd Layer (Animal Kuna) Water & Earth
3rd (Animal People) Layer - Earth
3rd (Animal People) Layer - Earth
4th Layer - Runa Kuna (Humanity or Mankind) Layer
We're asked to use red tissue paper for this layer. Traditionally, before we begin creating this layer, we're asked to stop, take a deep breath, and concentrate specifically on the individual who has passed away. This is the point where we encourage participants to truly let go of the person. We remind participants of the importance of giving thanks in prayer as we go along, and remind them that we place everything into the despacho in a clockwise fashion, representing a spiral to heaven that cuts any attachments the deceased may have to the Earth plane.
In our case, since we were creating the despachos after the actual gathering, we didn't specifically "state" any of this out loud.
On the red tissue paper, we again created a circle of "flower kintus" using the flowers from Karl's Gathering. We added a photo of Karl.
We made offerings of man-made materials:
◦ yellow spirals (macaroni or otherwise) to remind us of our process (of growth/evolution/consciousness);
◦ white chocolate sweets (to invite the spirits to come and eat);
◦ white candy drops (to represent the four (primary) sacred mountains - in Peru);
◦ raisins to represent the old ones/ancestors/our lineage;
◦ sweets for Pachamama (we used Karl's favorite candies - Swedish Fish, Peanut M&Ms, Peppermint Patties);
It is at this point that we made a point of celebrating Karl's life - at the same time acknowledging that his soul continues on even as his body ends. In essence, we nudged his luminous body toward home.
4th (Runa Kuna) Layer - Water
4th (Runa Kuna) Layer - Earth
Runa Kuna (4th) Layer - full Earth
Runa Kuna (4th) Layer - full Earth
5th Layer (Angelic Realm) (Earth Despacho)
In the 5th layer we are supposed to use sky blue tissue paper.
We created a circle of (yellow) flower kintus.
Upon the flowers, we placed the following:
◦ Alphabet noodles (representing the words to our prayers);
◦ small pieces of silver and gold paper (representing the books of Sacred Knowledge);
◦ Tobacco (for the spirits);
◦ Star Anise (an aromatic for the Spirits) - We used Sage, Lavender, and other aromatics;
◦ White Frankincense (another aromatic);
◦ Cotton balls (representing the clouds and snow covered mountains - Apus)
You'll see the 5th layer of the Water Despacho looks a lot different. For whatever weird reason, I made this 5th layer (of the Earth Despacho) look like heavy cloud cover! Maybe it reflected my own sadness? Karl created the Water Despacho.
Finally, the last layer, which is the realm of the Wiracocha, the place of creation, the Great Void, "Home." At this stage, we are encouraged to give our thanks and prayers for Karl that he return home to the Place of Beginnings safely and quickly. Layer of white tissue paper then we placed the final flowers from the Gathering in a circle on the paper.
Added the following items:
◦ A candle (used to provide direction and guidance to help the Soul make its way to the Light);
◦ A shell (representing the womb of the Universe);
◦ Buffalo fat (representing the ultimate sacrifice) I killed our cat and used her fat... (Just seeing if you were paying attention! Haha - Guess I"m getting punchy?) Actually, I used a small chunk of butter;
◦ A Sand Dollar (star shape on it representing the stars on Earth - as above so below)
◦ bicolored seeds from Peru (representing the complementary opposites in all of us; yin/yang; yanantin/masintin;
◦ small candy figurine (to help define the individual);
◦ white candy star (to represent the stars).
I neglected to mention that at the very beginning of the process, underneath the tissue paper, we started out with a square of "wrapping paper." I used a solid color representing how we were going to release the despacho. The Q'ero often use commercial wrapping paper, which seems funny, but...it is a gift...
We completed the creation of each despacho by wrapping everything up like a gift, keeping it upright, wrapping the wrapped gift in a mesa cloth (mastana). We then used the "prayer bundle" to CLEANSE and BLESS each person who was present on the day we actually "dispatched" the despachos. Those people, as described, acted as surrogates for all of the people who attended Karl's Gathering and created the flower kintus that were used in this ceremony.
(7th) Wiracocha - Void - Creation - HOME Layer - Water
The Despachos, as can be seen by the photos, turned out amazing. Beautiful. Powerful. Breathtakingly so, actually. We opened Sacred Space and lovingly and reverentially created these “prayer bundles,” and then had them here in our living room until we felt it was time to release them. In actuality, we awakened on the 11th (of December), 2011, looked at each other, and felt, "OK. Today is the day. It is time."
We dropped the Water Despacho off the aqueduct that spans the Tohickon Creek, just a very short distance before the creek merges with the Delaware River. The Tohickon is extremely sacred to our family. It was amazing how it dropped right into the fastest current and made its way to the Delaware straightaway.
The next one, the Earth Despacho, we buried right beside a sacred spot (fullacht fia) we'd created during our Irish Shamanic Gathering (Sept 30 - Oct 2), when we hosted dear friends who practice the shamanic ways in Ireland.
The Fire Despacho we burned in a very hot sacred fire up by the house.
Before releasing each despacho, I cleansed and blessed every person present with the sacred bundle, deliberately holding the intention of having ALL who contributed their prayers and blessings to the despachos benefit from the cleansings and blessings. Those physically present not only benefited directly, but also served as surrogates for everyone else.