She called me Chani girl. It warmed a part of me I didn’t know was still out in the cold.

I’ve known Ulrike since I was 13 years old. Towering in stature, avant-garde in style, serious in personhood, joyful in spirit, powerful in presence, brilliant in artistry, astute in observation, and generous in friendship, she was luminous.

A woman who existed outside the male gaze, Ulrike seemed to live for her own self, art, and life. She was from another galaxy, one far from what I grew up in. Being around her startled something awake in me. I stood up straighter next to her. I wanted to be smarter around her. I dreamt of my future differently because of her.

She loved her husband Gerald, but never lost herself in him. They created a life together that was filled with beauty, food, music, friends, art, and family — and they did so as equals, with a deep and abiding respect and love for one another. She was an artist and a reiki master, a dog mom, and the best friend of my step-grandmother. From my late teens to my early 30s, I went to her weekly for reiki sessions.

Reiki (hands-on energy healing) is something Ulrike did on the side, after her full-time job as an art director, for a select few. I was lucky enough to be one of them. When I first started going to her for sessions, I had no money. She’d let me pay in homemade cookies, soup, and pie. Under her warm, graceful hands, I mended my wounds a little at a time, one session at a time, year after year.

She had a kind detachment that so many healers do. She knew loss, she knew love, she knew tenderness, and she knew how to be in her power. She was my teacher, my mentor, my family, and my bridge to another life. She was patient enough to listen to me sort through heaps of rubble and sorrow. She was there for me when no one else was. She showed me what it was like to live with, and channel, an immense amount of creative energy. She witnessed me grow from child to adult and knew what it meant for me to have made it this far.

She was one of my heroes.

Ulrike passed away from ALS complications in February of this year. She suffered from the brutal and humiliating disease for the last three years with the utmost patience, dignity, and acceptance.

Her birthday is this week. So is her memorial.

There is no accounting for the ways in which this grief will level me in a day. There’s no scheduling it. There’s no reasoning as to how it erupts. Like love, I can only succumb to it. Grief is proof of a working heart and soul, I tell myself. Like everything else monumental in life, once it shows up, all the cliches become true.

I really can’t believe she’s gone.

Nothing in life prepares you for how short and fragile it is. Nothing prepares you for the finality of death. Nothing prepares you for the reality of what someone means to you. But their passing makes it crystal clear.

In my grief, I’ve been left with the immensity of the gifts Ulrike gave me: her time, care, warmth, and generosity. I get to live this life of mine, in part, because she helped me get here. And like a true healer, she asked for no recognition, no awards, and no applause for her efforts. The only way to repay such a gift is to pay it forward in all the ways I can.

This week, there is a rare solar eclipse in Aries, and along with it, a Chiron cazimi (meaning, Chiron will be at the same exact place as the Sun). Chiron is the minor planet that’s known as the Wounded Healer. It symbolizes those learned in the administration of medicines: doctors, healers, chiropractors, and therapists, as well as caregivers, teachers, and mentors of all kinds. It represents people who do the hard work of helping others turn their shame into psychological gold, their turmoil into creative fuel, and their pain into art. The unglamorous, relentless, grueling, and deeply rewarding work that’s done in the shadows, in the healing rooms, in the caves of the human psyche. Work that goes unseen by the world but shifts everything.

On their own, eclipses are cataclysmic events — at least visually speaking, at least momentarily. They signify something out of the ordinary occurring, something shadowy befalling us, something mysterious at work. They usually align with dramatic beginnings and endings. And they are initiations, especially in Aries.

The eclipse on April 8th can be seen across certain parts of America. Whenever the Sun is visibly blotted out, turning day into dusk, feelings of awe and awareness of how puny we are take hold. But beyond the visual spectacle, this eclipse is special for another reason: Having another (minor) planet exactly aligned with such a visually stunning eclipse is unique.

A solar eclipse in Aries with a Chiron cazimi foretells a moment when our wounds need to be addressed, collectively and personally. Anything that happens in Aries has a bold, daring, courageous, bombastic, creative, loud, and evocative signature to it. Aries is primordial fire, the spark of life that cannot be contained or crushed. It is relentlessly aglow.

Thus, we may notice a world alight with woes, but also wisdom, during this period.

The call to move into positions of mentorship, ourselves, is loud right now. This eclipse is asking us: What healing do we need, and what healing can we offer? What have our mentors taught us, and how are we implementing those lessons?

May we use this time to honor those who showed us how to be generous, kind, and willing to do the work. And in true Aries fashion, may we take those lessons and move into direct action so that we use our life, energy, creativity, gifts, and agency to tend to the pain points that abound.

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P.S. It’s been such a joy to write to you on a weekly basis, but in true eclipse x Mercury retrograde fashion, I’ve had to rethink the ways in which I am spending my time and energy. I have some offerings that I need to tend to, things that I am so excited to bring you, but try as I might, I can’t do both. So, in light of that fact, I’ll be scaling back to writing to you once a month for each New Moon, starting today. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves and each other. Bye for now.


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