Dead Grandma.

"Humanity is a love poem that God wrote in his grief."

This phrase came to me out of nowhere one night when I was just sitting on the couch, zoning out, trying to relax. And while the theological implications of this single sentence can be disruptive (if not heretical), what stuck with me is sense that love is a force of nature, like gravity or entropy. It drives us to remember, to recreate, to honor the sense memory of someone that we miss dearly.

In the HBO show Westworld, many of the "hosts"- the human-like, carbon-based androids- were built based around the character of real humans that had passed away. The phrase "You live only as long as the last person who remembers you" is a consistent thread in Westworld, as many of the characters re-create one another with a pretty badass 3D printer and their memory of the person they're attempting to "resurrect".

Another incredible work of science fiction, Chris Nolan's Interstellar, also tackles this topic, and as one character (an astrophysicist) says, "Love is the one thing that transcends time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we cannot understand it."

Lessons from Dead Grandma

On an almost weekly basis, I miss my grandmother in specific, tangible ways. She was so hilariously funny, and she comes alive a bit in my mind as I watch Tim Dillon's podcast or relish a new episode of Succession. She loved Jackass, Crank Yankers, and all things humorous and dark and inappropriate, and I grieve a little bit wishing she was here to experience it with me.

And she wasn't just funny. She was wise. And, in a world filled with noise but starved of wisdom, I feel the pang of her absence more profoundly than even right after she died. She was the person that pointed out when I started saying "ummm" and "like" in sentences, straight up telling me it made me sound stupid. Her advice? "Don't speak unless you know what you're going to say to begin with." Pretty on point.

When I was a child, she and my grandfather would always bring me to Marshall Fields in downtown Chicago every Christmas, a kind of consumerist religious pilgrimage to a now dead cultural icon. There was a multi-story Christmas tree and the elves and the whole works. On one such trip, when I was about four years old, a homeless woman approached me and asked me for money. Terrified and uncomfortable, I looked up at my grandmother to see what I should do. She waited a second, and then said, "Rachel- this woman is speaking to you. What do you do when an adult speaks to you?". So I faced the homeless woman and apologized- explaining that I didn't have any money on me. She smiled and thanked me, and I'm pretty sure my grandfather gave her some cash.

When walking away, my grandmother leaned over and said, "That woman is a human being, and she deserves for you to treat her as such. When a human being approaches you and speaks to you- even if they are homeless or seem scary- you need to remember they're a person deserving of your respect and basic dignity." I was so young, I don't think I fully realized the power of these statements until I got older, and particularly during the last two years as I observe people "othering" each other, wishing each other dead, disconnecting from their natural sense of compassion and empathy for another who has had struggles they can't even imagine. Again, pretty on point.

And she was honest. When I was in about sixth grade, I decided I wanted to try out for my Middle School's show choir. I know, the image of me, a proverbial Lydia from the movie Beetlejuice, busting out the jazz hands as I sang the hits from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is....hilarious. But, as a young person, I had not yet fully cultivated my now trademark self-awareness (not to mention my humility, for which I am known...wink).

And, what's worse: I was really bad at singing. Like, tone deaf bad. Like I had experienced a traumatic injury bad. And I was the last to know. Teachers and choir directors would just smile and nod when I sang out of key, effectively nourishing a newly born delusion of grandeur that had started to take root in me.

But not grandma. While practicing my vocal exercises in her home after school one day, she very calmly walked down the stairs, looked me in the eye, and said, "Don't quit your day job, kid." Sure, at the time, I was devastated, but in the intervening years I look back on this moment of cruelty as a real kindness. She loved me, and didn't want me to make an ass of myself. She cared enough about me to give me the real deal, and I'm reminded of what an extinct trait that kind of honest kindness is in a world of virtue signaling and toxic positivity. How many new delusions are being born, nursed and protected in our world now? On social media? And who is making the money off of these delusions?

Whew. What we all need is some Dead Grandma energy. All of us. Whoever that person was or is for us, we need them. Individually. Collectively.

We need our ancestors.

And while making contact via a Mediumship appointment is certainly one obvious way to initiate dialogue, there are so many more ways available to all of us. Our ancestors are always around us, and I was reminded of this in a major way a few weeks ago.

The visit from the owls

To set the scene: I had just kicked off our TOTEM Spiritual Transformation Coaching Program, and had noticed little images or references to owls with my clients (on a t-shirt or mentioned in passing). Now, my grandmother and my whole family have a big thing with owls. When my grandfather was passing away, my grandmother knew because an owl had been coming to their home in Naperville, hooting every night....on the third night, he left his body. This, according to her, was in keeping with a Native American parable.

When she was a bit older and dying of various lung diseases (don't smoke, kids), she literally went out and bought a bunch of those fake, plastic owl decoys to set up in the yard. Her thinking? No owl visits, no getting carried off to the underworld, and NO DEATH. It was f*cking hilarious. My uncles put them up on the roof and in trees in the yard...but sure enough, an owl did in fact come to visit. And within three days of that, she was dead and gone, too.

As a result, owls are a whole thing in my family, with a very specific- and very sweet- connection to Dead Grandma.

The recent peripheral mentions and images of owls hit a creepy AF shaman fever pitch a few more nights into the Coaching Program, as I sat in my living room and- wait for it- heard at least a handful of owls in the backyard making their patented "whoo whoo" sounds. Owls, as many of you may know, are solitary creatures. They don't travel in groups. And they don't HOOT out loud for the hell of it. Particularly not in downtown Austin, TX- after all, it may not be Chicago but it has over a million people in it.

It was crazy. I remember thinking, "Who's out there with dead grandma?". The owl visits since her passing were always singular and always the day after a significant death- like the passing my previous dog, Henry VIII. They had never come in a group before, and I was mystified.

In the week that followed, nearly every coaching client had an experience- or two, or three- with an owl. And it hit me: those weren't my ancestors. They were my clients' ancestors. It was the sweetest, most meaningful message I've gotten from spirit in a long time, and it's not an accident it was owls.

I really feel that Dead Grandma was letting me know- via my clients' ancestors- that I was on the right track, connecting with the work I should be doing and getting other healers and extraordinary women on their path, too. It felt like a vote of confidence, and it was humbling.

Dead Grandma flower essence

I try to live in a way that she would be proud of, and I know that, towards the end of her life, she became very interested in my tarot card fixation and spiritual curiosities. I imagine her, on the other side, stoked about the Dead Grandma Flower Essence I made in her honor. Made of marigolds, the flower of choice for the Day of the Dead and ancestor work in Voodoo, this flower essence puts you in touch with your ancestors, helps you undertake mediumship work on your own, and can even help you release multi-generational (i.e. epigenetic) trauma.

That last part is pretty important. Having done shamanic energy work for so many years, I know firsthand how much influence our ancestors' trauma can have over us, influencing us such that we repeat multigenerational patterns around money, addiction, and even love. If you get a chance to undo that in yourself, you also have the ability to release your ancestors- and other family members- from this cycle, too. If you're interested in setting up a short Flower Essence Consultation with me- after which I ship you tailored homemade TOTEM Flower Essences like Dead Grandma) EMAIL ME HERE ANYTIME.

This service has been really popular and, because I'm dedicated to making the Flower Essences in the old world way, we're bound to run out of our existing stock soon. Yes- we're planting new seeds anyway now, and we're expanding the program to include more than 40 different tinctures- but those plants needs to grow, bud, be harvested, steep in grain alcohol, and then get cut with filtered water and bottled before they're going to be available. So, if you're interested in a little Dead Grandma Flower Essence, now's the time;) And keep an eye out for updates on Instagram HERE or via email as we make our new Flower Essences available later this year.

Write our stories

I also keep Dead Grandma in mind as I spend extra hours working on a book proposal, framing out the next way I can help to democratize spirituality via the written word. My grandmother loved reading, writing, and it was one area in which she acknowledged my baseline skill...unlike my show choir "talent".

I believe many of us have important stories to share. Stories that can heal through the simple act of reading them. Stories that revivify and resurrect our departed loved ones, reminding all of us of those who came before, what they learned, and what they taught us in kind.

To that end, a friend of mine, Sara Connell, is going to be hosting a Bestselling Book Bootcamp for anyone interested in writing their first book or, more broadly, just telling their story. This is Sara's passion, and she is inspired to make sure EVERYONE who has the calling to write a book and change lives and inspire others has the confidence, motivation, and empowerment to do it. I, along with many others, are teaming with Sara for a 5-day bootcamp that helps the hopeful author:

  • Choose your optimal book IDEA (from the dozens swirling around in your head!)

  • Set your book up as a bestseller before you start

  • Write an outline (in an easy, FUN, way!)

  • Draft the introduction/first chapter of your bestselling book

  • Create a Success Plan to complete & publish your book!

If you're interested, secure your spot here ASAP:

Or, at a minimum, sit down and journal a bit. Share stories of your ancestors and those that came before you. I promise they're paying attention and appreciate it. And, if you get really lucky, you just might get a visit from an owl or two;)