Category Archives: Spiritual/Mysticism

INTERVIEW WITH KAREN WILSON

Karen_Final

I recently finished reading a book by healer and spiritual teacher, Karen Wilson. Karen has spent the last decade or so immersed in the study of spirituality, meditation, and alternative health. No stranger to the mystical, she shares her experiences and the techniques you can use to find happiness, inner peace, and contentment in her newly released book titled, 7 Illusions. Karen teaches at workshops and spiritual retreats in Australia and Europe.

7 Illusions asks us to examine who we really are. The seven illusions she explores are categorized as creation, free will, the mind, fear, death, the self, and emotion. Understanding how our perceptions cloud our reality opens our eyes and allows us to see things as they truly are. This is the key understanding that will allow us to live happy, contented lives. Karen writes from experience and is passionate about helping others as we make the spiritual journey. She joins me today to discuss her book and her approach to spirituality.

Welcome to the blog and thanks for taking the time to be with us. I appreciate it!

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What do you think triggered your spiritual journey? What were your own personal challenges at the time?

When I arrived in Australia at 23, I wasn’t at all into anything ‘spiritual’. During my travels I arrived ‘by chance’ in a little town called Byron Bay, the alternative mecca of Australia. There I started hearing about all kinds of New Age beliefs, alternative therapies, talks about yoga-healthy living- meditation, and God. I remember thinking that all these people might be crazy or that there was something they knew that I didn’t. I started asking questions to ‘the universe out there’ as I was being told. I wasn’t expecting any answers back, at all. Yet I got some. Too many to be ignored, I couldn’t keep my head buried in the sand anymore. That was my biggest challenge, to realize that all my old beliefs were not true, that was questioning my very sense of self. I was like an adult back at kindergarten, having to learn everything from the beginning. When I was ready to learn, I started reading all kinds of self-help / New Age books. I started learning energy healing, and I started meditation. All that I didn’t believe in before! I practiced a lot and I also started having many ‘spiritual/mystical’ experiences. My life totally changed in the years following these awakenings. I became happier, more peaceful. I also healed my physical body. I was on medication for hypothyroidism since I was 14, which according to my doctor couldn’t be cured. But the best of all, I found myself and I started living, really living.

Your book identifies 7 illusions. Of these, which is the most difficult to overcome or see through?

I think the identification with the mind is a powerful illusion. Until we experience a state of no mind and realize that we are not that voice in our head, the mind will keep on controlling us. The mind is a great tool, but it is not who we are. Unfortunately we tend to get caught in its incessant chatter without realizing that we have the power to stop it or change ‘what is being said’. If we change ‘what is being said’, then we change the experience we are living. No matter what`s in front of us, the mind will always judge it. Things are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The difference between the two comes from the programming of our mind. But seeing things as ‘good’ will create a sense of happiness while ‘bad’ will bring dissatisfaction. That`s the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. When we identify with the mind we are condemned to see life through its filter. But when we understand that we are not that mind and that we have the power to change the filter, then our life changes. We truly have the power to change our mind and our life.

Photo by: Kate Jewell

Photo by: Kate Jewell

I love the phrase from the book about “creating happiness by creating ourselves happy.” How can we go about this?

We can create ourselves happy by changing our negative beliefs and perceptions on life and on ourselves. We will never find happiness on the outside; we will never find happiness in material things. All the happiness in the world is present inside of us. What does it mean to be happy? It is being contented with what is. It is being contented with who we are. If we want to create ourselves happy, we can create the person we will be contented with. The person we dream of becoming. And there is an indefinite number of possibilities of who we can be. For example, are we trying to become rich to feel more empowered and self-confident? Then why not trying to be more confident first, so it doesn’t matter if we get rich or not, we will be happy with ourselves. We can create ourselves as we wish. We can be anyone we want to be. And becoming our dream-self will bring us self-love and contentment which no amount of money in the world can buy.

The book balances the idea of free will and fate. In this way, we’re not omnipotent but we’re not victims either. How do we integrate this into our daily lives?

If we can`t change what is happening right now in our life, we can always change how we are reacting to it. We can always try to fight and resist our life but it will only bring unhappiness and frustration. When we start accepting what is and when we start to live the present moment, then our experience changes. We are not changing the outside circumstances, but we are changing the inside, we are changing ourselves. Instead of focusing all of our thoughts, all of our energy on the past or on the future, we can shift our focus to the now. We can start living and enjoying the now. And in the now we have the power; we have the free will of who we want to be. In the now we can choose to be happy or not, we can choose to be fearful or not, we can choose to be loving or not. In the now we always have the choice to smile…or not.

Photo by: Deror Avi

Photo by: Deror Avi

Why do you think so many people struggle with meditation?

I think it is because we don`t learn early enough how to meditate. We are taught early how to use our body: how to walk, talk, write, use a fork, etc. Imagine if we were to start learning all that in our twenties, thirties or later, imagine the struggle then! It`s also like training a dog, it`s much easier to train a puppy than a grown up dog with its old habits and way of being. It`s the same with our mind and meditation. It does not mean that it`s too hard or impossible, just that it may take more time and effort to tame ‘the beast’. Many will give up after a few days or weeks, thinking that it doesn’t work or do anything. It’s like going to the gym after years of not exercising and looking at our abs after a week and giving up because we don’t have a six-pack yet! I remember the first time I meditated, I only lasted five minutes! My mind was so busy and ‘unchained’ that I kept on forgetting I was meditating! Yet I’m so glad I persisted, as not only it became easier and easier, but it totally changed my life. I think meditation can be a struggle at the beginning but it is definitely worth the effort.

Why is it good to be “out of your mind?

Because when we are “out of our mind” we are present, we are here. We can be physically present somewhere, yet in our mind we are somewhere else. We can be in a beautiful place in nature yet we can’t really SEE it, because we are thinking about something else. To really SEE something we need to be completely present with it. When we look at a tree for example, and start defining it: ‘it`s a nice tree’,’ it’s an oak’, ‘it’s quite tall’, we are still in our mind. We are LOOKING at the tree but we don’t really SEE it. Instead of watching the tree we are listening to the voice in our head which is telling us about the tree. Soon that voice is going to compare that tree to another, make judgments, reminds ourselves of other trees we have seen in our past, then other people, then we are going to think about what we are going to have for dinner. We are still in front of the tree, but we are long gone. If we are ‘out of our mind’ then we just look at the tree, that is all. There is nothing standing between the tree and us, no words, no thoughts. We are really seeing what is. The tree just is, and we just are, that is all.

Thanks for being here and sharing!

For more about Karen Wilson or her book, 7 Illusions, please explore these sites.

Website: www.karenwilson.co

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/omniahealing

Blog: http://karenwilson33.wordpress.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Illusions-Discover-who-really-are-ebook/dp/B00JZHU3TM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407958582&sr=8-1&keywords=7+Illusions+by+Karen+Wilson

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Buddhism, Energy medicine, healing, Spiritual/Mysticism

THE INCIDENT AT WATSEKA

We’ve all probably read and seen movies about possession. I doubt very many missed The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, or the Amityville Horror. These tales follow the familiar saga of demonic possession. But what happened in Watseka, IL in 1877 was different. In this wild tale in a small town, the possession was helpful and healing. Did it really happen?

Lurancy

Thirteen year old, Mary Lurancy Vennum began to suffer fits and fell into trances in which she saw heaven, angels, and the spirits of the dead. People around her believed Lurancy was going insane and needed to be confined to an asylum. Back in 1864, the town of Watseka had had a previous case of an eighteen year old, Mary Roff, who had manifested similar symptoms to Lurancy’s. Unfortunately, Mary Roff turned violent, cutting herself and lapsing into unconsciousness. When she came to, she existed in a state of raving mania with various extra-sensory abilities. She expired in a mental hospital after five days. Mary Roff’s father, Asa, learned about his neighbor’s predicament and pleaded with the Vennum’s to bring in consulting physician, Dr. E.W. Stevens.

MaryRoff

Dr. Stevens diagnosed Lurancy with spirit obsession and hypnotized the teen. In this state, Lurancy claimed to be possessed by evil spirits. Interestingly, Dr. Stevens was a spiritist, someone who believed in spirits and reincarnation (which distinguishes him from spiritualists who don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation). Dr. Stevens suggested that one of the spirits might be able to help Lurancy and Lurancy named Mary Roff as an entity willing to do just that. In this way, Mary Roff took over Lurancy’s body in February 1878. Lurancy moved in with the Roff family for several months during which time she acted like Mary Roff picking up her former life and recognizing old friends. She recognized distant relatives and used nicknames Mary Roff had used. The Roff family and many in the small town believed Lurancy was Mary Roff. Also during this time, Mary Roff- in the body of Lurancy, exhibited clairvoyant abilities, traveled out- of- body, and visited astral planes. She also shared information about Dr. Steven’s dead children in heaven. In May, Mary Roff announced that Lurancy was ready to come back. She fell into a trance, and awoke as Lurancy fully healed. This was the same girl for which medical authorities had no treatment other than confinement in a state hospital.

In 1882 Lurancy married and moved to Kansas. Mary Roff continued to watch over Lurancy occasionally possessing her for her protection. Over the years, Lurancy was protected from pain during childbirth (she had 11 children) and given information clairvoyantly from Mary Roff. Lurancy died in the 1952.

WatsekaThe case is an oddity standing apart from the traditional demonic possession story. It also happened in a time when spirit contact was all the rage in spiritualism circles. Some people regard this as a reincarnation case, but Lurancy was two when Mary Roff died. The timing doesn’t seem plausible and generally, in reincarnation cases, a child will recount previous life stories as soon as language develops. A walk-in case? A hoax? Some think it might have been since Asa Roff played such a large role in Mary’s arrival. Others believe it was Asa’s guilt which drew Mary’s spirit back to help another teen destined for the asylum.

For more information on the Watseka Wonder:

THE WATSEKA WONDER- A Narrative of Startling Phenomena Occurring in the Case of Mary Lurancy Vennum by E. Winchester Stevens

http://www.amazon.com/Watseka-Narrative-Startling-Phenomena-Occurring/dp/1230414614/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406751816&sr=1-5&keywords=Watseka+Wonder

THE POSSESSED- movie of events at Watseka

http://www.amazon.com/The-Possessed-Christopher-Saint-Booth/dp/B002348RFQ/ref=tag_dpp_lp_edpp_img_in

The Roff Home- still standing in Watseka (so is the Vennum’s but a family lives there).

http://www.roffhome.com/

 

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Filed under Book Review, Spiritual/Mysticism

STEPPING OUT OF TIME

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We’re taught to think in terms of linear time. Our whole lives are guided by the concept that one event precedes another and that consequences come from causes. We tell our life stories from the beginning and only in middle age do we look back connecting events in new ways to retell our story. Even this perspective, binds us to linear time. And yet, we all have experienced time’s peculiarities which open us to wonder. Why is it I can lose time in a favorite activity and that last hour at work seems like a month?    Dispenza

Einstein said, “…the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.” Here we see Einstein speaking like a mystic and why should that surprise us? I’m reading Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself (How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One). Dispenza takes on the notion of linear time by examining an experiment done in 2000 by an Israeli doctor. Watch for the zinger!

praying

Leonard Leibovici, MD conducted a double-blind, randomized trial of 3393 hospitalized patients all suffering with a sepsis infection. Leibovici was interested in whether prayer could affect patient outcome. The patients were divided with half being prayed for and half not being prayed for. Dr. Leibovici collected data on the length of fever, length of stay in the hospital, and death as a result of infection. Turns out the prayed for patients had an earlier reduction in fever and shorter hospital stays. The death rates for both groups were not statistically different. The results may shock some, but science has been doing prayer studies for quite a while ( Healing Words-The Power of Prayer & The Practice of Medicine by Larry Dossey, MD). The truly mind- numbing thing about the study is that those praying in 2000 were praying for patients who were hospitalized in the period 1990 to 1996. The conclusion drawn here was that patients who were prayed for in 2000, actually got better in the 1990s.

So what is going on and how should it change our ideas about time? What if Einstein is right and time is just a persistent illusion, an artifice created by the brain? We’re used to thinking that prayer or focused attention might be able to affect our future. But what if I can do something today to affect my past? Can I pray for a better childhood? Can I heal a fractured relationship from decades ago? Can I send myself strength to get through a rough career change I’m making now? Can I? Can you?

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Filed under Book Review, Books, healing, Spiritual/Mysticism

A LOOK AT SYNCHRONICITY

 Buddha

Years ago when I returned to Buddhism and began meditation, I opened a door which, even after ten years, remains open. We can call them synchronistic events (SEs), meaningful coincidences. They come and ping in my environment especially when I’m working intensely on something. The easiest examples to share have to do with my writing. When I was writing INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS, all manner of Tibetan symbols and objects showed up in my environment. Where before I knew nothing about Tibet, and relatively little about Buddhism, I started to see various things each and every day. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it was alarming- what did it mean? Why was it happening? Thankfully, my immediate family was supportive and I explored various ideas before finally embracing the idea that these events were like warm embraces from the universe.

Synch

Enter psychologist, Kirby Surprise who has written a book called Synchronicity- The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind. He was about to challenge my warm, fuzzy world. Has he won or can we come to a… middle way? Some believe these coincidences are tied to archetypes and Jung’s collective unconscious. Others see the hand of God or some unifying force at work. In Surprise’s career, he has seen clients attribute these “signs” to Gods, saviors, demons, devils, nature spirits, people with extraordinary powers, ETs, ghosts, and/or secret agencies or governments. Our psychologist proposes an alternative. We cause our own SEs because the universe mirrors us. Therefore, what we project is what we get. Many mystical traditions (becoming co-creators) and science itself seems to support the idea.

Current theories of quantum physics play with the idea that the universe has 11 dimensions. In N Space, there are an infinite number of parallel universes. And then there is M Space which has probable universes. Brain activity as thoughts and powered by emotion, move across these spaces creating change. In a sense, we exist in in infinite number of alternative and probable universes all at the same time. The changes we create in these universes ripple back to us as SEs. We are indeed very powerful- but limited according to Surprise, because we can only travel so far. Rhine’s early parapsychology experiments at Duke University seem to suggest we influence our world by 3-5% and that may reflect a typical SE. However, there are exceptional cases of SE which are life changing and may be more in line with a 60-90% change.

stage

All well and good. So what can we do with SEs? Why are they important? SEs give us insight into who we are and how the world functions. For those attuned to SEs, they shake up our world and force us to look at the big questions- who are we, what is the nature of reality? Surprise cautions us here because whatever our belief structure is, meaningful coincidences will conspire to confirm it. Believe a loving, powerful God underlies everything, he shows up. Believe the devil is at the heart of your misery, he’s there too. How about a shadow government conspiring with aliens to take over the world? Suddenly, conspiracy theories are everywhere and intruding into your daily life. While SEs are often fun and exciting, they can also be scary and throw your world into chaos. The trick here is to maintain a sense of humor without believing everything we are being shown. We are the actor on the stage as well as the playwright.

Not that everyone is happy with the book. Surprise does explore the idea that SEs point to deep connectedness, but he is pretty tough on organized religions sometimes putting it on the level of his patient’s other delusions. And while he does admit that SEs can be powerful at times, he tends to dismiss their overall importance. I think he’s done a good job in opening up some speculation on how the mechanics of SEs work, but he may have only part of the story. We need magic and mystery.

Image by: Kevin McGill

Image by: Kevin McGill

Surprise’s book gives some exercises to try so that you can create thoughtforms and see what happens. He goes to great length stressing that everyone has this ability, but many aren’t aware of it. You can live a full life and never recognize SEs- but for those of us who do, it will permanently shift your frame of reference. All spiritual paths tell us this, once you open the door and step through, you can never go back. Some are not up to the journey.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Spiritual/Mysticism

HAS THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT BEEN CRACKED?

This is an update to a blog I did in 2012 about the Voynich Manuscript. Recent work done by Dr. Stephen Bax (Professor of Applied Linguistics, University of Bedfordshire) has resulted in some startling findings.

voynich botanical

From 2012:

I love tales of missing manuscripts especially in fiction, but also in non-fiction. Last week, I finished The Swerve which featured the true story of the recovery of Lucretius’ poem, On the Nature of Things, and how it influenced our modern world. I liked the idea of a Renaissance book hunter slipping into monasteries looking for ancient wisdom. But I have a better story to share.

In 1912, Wilfrid Voynich recovered a mysterious manuscript that bears his name and resides in the Yale Library as Manuscript 408. The curious document has defied the patient and persistent attempts by all amateur and professional cryptographers to break it.

Its exact history is sketchy, but the document is alleged to have belonged to an Emperor, several practicing alchemists, and a religious order. Some have even proposed that Roger Bacon or John Dee authored the manuscript.

Consisting of 240 vellum pages with colored illustrations, the writing script is unknown and unreadable. Many of the illustrations resemble herbal texts of the 15th Century except that only a few of them can be identified. Aside from the herbal renderings, there are also illustrations covering topics on astronomy, biology, cosmology, medicines, and recipes. The drawings are fanciful, colorful, and complicated. Carbon-14 dating in 2009, dates the manuscript to between 1408 and 1438.

The text itself has puzzled for decades and even modern computer tools have proved ineffective. The writing itself seems to progress left to right with no punctuation. There are no obvious corrections, the document being very carefully executed. There are some 170,000 separate glyphs utilized throughout and many are used only once or twice. Statistical analysis of the work reveals that it resembles the flow of natural language. But what language? It seems to share some correspondences to English and Latin, but not entirely. The repetition of the glyphs is not a characteristic of European language.

Manuscript 408 remains the only undeciphered Renaissance manuscript and it continues to draw many into its mystery. Some think it’s an early herbal or medical text. Others see it as a work of alchemy (early chemistry) or hermeneutical teaching. Still others have declared it a hoax, but if it is a hoax of some kind, it goes beyond anything produced in the 15th Century. It goes beyond the codes and cyphers used then, and continues to evade codebreakers today. What is this curious work and who penned its bizarre contents?

For those intrigued enough to read further:

The Voynich Manuscript- Gerry Kennedy & Rob Churchill

The Friar & the Cypher- Lawrence Goldstone

Six Unsolved Ciphers- Richard Belfield

Drawing on work done to date, Dr. Bax undertook a detailed look at some of the plants and signs in the manuscript. He began with some of the speculations on plant names to decipher letters within the text. He believes he has deciphered ten words and fourteen signs to begin the process of identifying the language MS 408 was written in. Dr. Bax believes the manuscript is not a hoax, but rather a 15th Century book on nature written not in code but rather an unknown language. Now, the hard work begins to try to reveal more of the manuscript. It seems like this is an instance when having the right experts makes all the difference.  

Watch Dr. Bax’s video describing his process and work. http://stephenbax.net/?page_id=38

https://amzn.to/30oq1NL

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Filed under alchemy, Spiritual/Mysticism, Uncategorized

SHAKING MEDICINE by Bradford Keeney

Shaking Medicine

Bradford Keeney’s book, Shaking Medicine, takes us into the heart of healing with ecstatic movement.  While the East and West delights in powerful, relaxing healing modalities of meditation and acupuncture, Keeney bravely asserts we are missing the other half of healing medicine- the shaking forms of arousal from Africa and other cultures.  Mostly absent from our culture are the healing techniques of The Shake and it’s time we got over our prejudice.  Keeney believes that it is only when we fully cycle through being hyper-aroused and then deeply relaxed, can we powerfully realign and evolve in a pattern consistent with holistic medicine.  Fifty years ago or so, meditation was new and seen as a fringe movement and now it is so accepted and commonplace, doctors recommend it.  Keeney predicts Shaking Medicine is coming west and it’s healing benefits will be open to all.  At first I wondered about that, but my latest foray into my local meetup groups, revealed that there is a group dedicated to ecstatic dance.

Of course, some of the hurdles for society to overcome are the immediate associations we have for those shaking.  Historically scholars (and the general public) have associated ecstatic movement with mental or neurological disease.  Some would even go so far as to say evil or satanic, but most of that is either blatant prejudice or cultural ignorance.  There is also a fear of being out of control that western cultures so value.  Conformity and predictability are pillars of our society, what would happen if everyone shook?  Would we….lose it?  And those still prevalent fears have led Keeney to call shaking The Last Great Taboo.

Photo by: Justin Hall

Photo by: Justin Hall

So what is shaking all about?  Simply put it’s an experience, a journey into the ecstatic state brought forth by trembling joy.  You tremble, quake, and shake losing control and entering into healing and transformation.  Like other mystical practices, you surrender to higher authority and wisdom.  For Keeney, it’s the thing most missing from our spiritual table in the West.  Cultures who practice it value it for its ability to renew and restore vitality.  It takes us into the unknown and connects us to life in all its forms.

Assembly of Quakers, London. Engraving.

Assembly of Quakers, London. Engraving.

This is a book I truly loved.  I knew nothing about the subject and enjoyed visiting the diverse cultures Keeney portrays.  Lest you think shaking is confined to the African continent, Keeney starts out with a tale about settlers in the Pacific Northwest and later the Quakers and Shakers all of whom participated in ecstatic movement in pursuit of spiritual growth.  Keeney has strong ties to the Kalahari bushmen earning the title of Heart of Spears, a title of respect acquired by learning and experiencing their shaking medicine.  Some of the other cultures explored in the fascinating book include the: Spiritual Baptists of St. Vincent (Caribbean), African American Church, Seiki Jutsu (Japan), and Hindu/Buddhist traditions (India).  The book comes with a CD and instructions to begin your own journey of discovery.  Highly recommended!

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR: SHAMAN ELIZABETH HERRERA

Shaman Elizabeth Herrera

Shaman Elizabeth Herrera

Shaman Elizabeth is a healer whose life has been filled with miracles. She is dedicated to helping others believe that miracles are possible and encouraging them to accept these wondrous gifts for themselves. She offers healing and spiritual advising to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. With deep connections to the Divine and help from enlightened guides and teachers, Shaman Elizabeth accesses your spiritual Self through the visionary process of shamanic journeying (Native American spirituality) to heal and offer guidance.

shaman-stone-soup-cover-large

For those unfamiliar with shamanism, a shaman is a person who accesses the spirit world for the purpose of divination or healing. Shamanism is ancient drawing from multi-cultural roots throughout Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the Americas.

Elizabeth is another author I had the good fortune to connect with through blogging and I’m so glad I did! She has several books published and today we will concern ourselves mainly with a discussion of Shaman Stone Soup. This book is an account of her spiritual life and healing experiences over the course of her spiritual development. It is a delightful, engaging read for both those on a spiritual path, and those interested in the shared human experience.

Welcome Elizabeth and thanks for joining me to talk about Shaman Stone Soup!

Hello! It’s an honor to be featured on your website.

In Shaman Stone Soup, you talk about being an unlikely, and perhaps, reluctant candidate for shamanism. Can you talk a bit about how this path emerged for you?

It was totally unexpected! Although I knew I was searching for something, I never expected it to be Native American spirituality (shamanism). I went from being a Christian to an atheist to discovering shamanism.

When I first began shamanic journeying (communicating with spirit guides in the spirit realm), I didn’t believe the visions were real. All I knew was that every few weeks I would hear a persistent call asking me to journey, which I couldn’t ignore. It was like someone kept knocking on the door of my consciousness and the only way I could get them to stop was to journey.

Two years went by before I asked for a healing for a friend. When the healing came true by morning, it caused me to reconsider the “reality” of what I was seeing in the spirit realm. To see if it was a fluke, I asked for healings for friends, neighbors, people on TV or whomever I thought needed a healing, and the healings would occur just as the spirit guides described. Still filled with doubt, I wondered if I was psychic and simply being shown the future. An opportunity to prove these were miracles came very quickly. My husband was diagnosed with Crone’s disease during this time. It’s a treatable, but not curable, disease with Western medicine. He was in tremendous pain, weighed about 115 lbs., and couldn’t work or do much of anything. I finally asked him if I could request a healing for him. He agreed, probably because he was desperate, since he didn’t (and still doesn’t) believe in a higher power. During the healing, the spirit guide said my husband would be well within two weeks. The spirit guide also said the illness wouldn’t bother him again, but that my husband would always carry a “sign” of it with him. And, just as the spirit guide promised, my husband was fine within two weeks and never had an episode again. Two doctors felt he must have been misdiagnosed and performed additional tests, but both tests proved he did indeed have the signs of Crone’s, but was non-symptomatic.

My book, Shaman Stone Soup, details 20 stories of miracles, including this one.

A Chakapa used by a Peruvian Shaman

A Chakapa used by a Peruvian Shaman

Shaman Stone Soup makes shamanism easily accessible to both those who know about shamanism and those who don’t. Readers have also pointed out that the book really explores universal themes, which unite us all in the human experience. How can an exploration of those human experiences (the search for self, growing love & understanding, practicing forgiveness) bring about a wider audience for understanding the shamanic path?

Not sure if this answers your question, but I believe shamanism, ACIM, Reiki, religion, yoga, meditation, etc. are all tools that help open our consciousness to the Love that surrounds us. My only goal is to fully know Love. Shamanism provided a portal to Love. It’s not the only modality that offers this, but it is the oldest-known spiritual practice.

A spiritual path doesn’t have to follow any specific practice. It could be as simple as loving everyone who comes your way. Everyone we meet is an opportunity to see the divine within them. When we see the divine in others, we remember it in ourselves.

Do you have to believe in miracles to have one happen to you? Does it help? How can openness to spirituality help us in our daily lives?

Considering I performed healings for five years as an atheist, I guess you could say faith isn’t required. The only requirement is to ask for a miracle, then step out-of-the-way. The higher power will do the work.

I meditate daily (or almost daily) to connect to the loving energy. When I do, I am peaceful, centered and have direction throughout my day. It’s a moment-by-moment thing. You don’t reach a state of bliss and stay there without focus and devotion.

How did A Course in Miracles (ACIM) add to your spiritual journey?

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) answered a lot of questions for me, such as: Why are we here?”, “How did we get here?” and “Where are we going?” which I’m sure would have been answered eventually through shamanic journeying. The Course saved me a considerable amount of time, which is what the Course is about…reaching enlightenment sooner. Oddly enough, ACIM is perfectly compatible with shamanism. The two spiritual paths seem very different on the surface, yet their truths are the same.

Saami Turist Rune Drum Photo by: Petr Broz (2007)

Saami Turist Rune Drum
Photo by: Petr Broz (2007)

How do your power animals facilitate your healings?

My power animals guide me through the spirit realm, taking me to the spirit guide who is best suited to perform the healing. Power animals can be helpful for providing archetype power that instills a person with the energy/confidence they are lacking.

In my book, one of the stories talks about a deer totem animal that appeared in a healing for a client. The next evening, I believe this archetype power saved my life or at least prevented serious injury. Below is an excerpt that explains:

During a shamanic healing session for a client, her power animal appeared as a herd of deer, which was surprising because a power animal usually appears as a singular animal/bird/fish that represents the species as a whole. At the time, it seemed interesting, but not overly important.

The next morning, the client sent me a message that her sister had emailed her an inspirational video of a deer. It was a wonderful “coincidence” that helped to confirm the healing for her.

That night, after returning home late from a friend’s home, I called my sister to stay awake while driving on the desolate highway. She lived out West, so while it was close to midnight in North Carolina, it was only 9:00 p.m. in Nevada. We had talked for 10 minutes when she suddenly became extremely nauseous. She said that it was odd, since she had been fine all day. She needed to end the call and we said good-bye.

A few minutes later, while driving down the highway, I came over a hill and was confronted with a herd of deer crossing the highway. I looked in every direction for a path to avoid them, but there was no visible escape route.

I remembered thinking, “There is no way I won’t hit those deer!” I expected to hit not just one, but several deer, and I surrendered to the inevitable.

Suddenly, my body had a mind of its own! A presence took control of me and slammed my foot on the brakes, the screeching sound filling the night air. Time began to move in slow motion, and as I passed a deer on my left, I looked into his wide eyes that were staring back at me. He was so close that I watched the side-view mirror miss his antlers by inches. When he was safely out-of-the-way, my hand cranked the wheel sharply to the left to dodge the deer on my right, who kindly took several steps in the opposite direction to avoid being hit.

Now, I was driving in the bumpy, grassy median and was about to plow into another deer in front of me, when my hand swerved the wheel back to the right, narrowly missing the doe. I was back on the highway and looked in the rearview mirror to see the deer still standing there stunned. The two cars in front of me had their brakes on, no doubt wondering if they would need to stop and call 911. But, when they saw me putter along the highway unharmed, their brake lights went off and everyone resumed driving.

Time returned to normal and I began to take assessment of what had just occurred. Unscathed, I first thanked God for saving the deer’s lives. Then, another mile down the road, I realized that I could have been killed and thanked him for saving mine!

When speaking with my sister the next day, I told her it was a blessing in disguise that she had gotten nauseous, or I would have had a cell phone in my hand when I encountered the deer. It would have been nearly impossible to avoid hitting them with only one hand on the wheel. She replied that it was the weirdest thing, but shortly after getting off the phone, the nausea went away. Divine intervention is a wonderful thing!

White-tailed_deer

The Meaning of the Deer Power Animal
The archetype power of the deer power animal offers many attributes, among them are the following: Manifesting for a higher good, surrendering to the Divine will, and the ability to move with intention, complete awareness and speed while remaining centered. It also represents abundance, the advent of new adventures, and the power of family or group dynamics.

If someone were interested in learning to shamanic journey, how would you advise him or her to proceed?

Find a teacher. I offer lessons in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, but Sandra Ingerman is a well-known teacher and healer who has a great website that lists teachers throughout the world. My teacher happened to be taught by her as well. If time or money is an issue, Sandra has a book, Learn to Shamanic Journey that takes you through the process.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book, Dreams of Dying, released this January. It features a mother who vacillates between two lives…before and after a tragic car accident that kills her family. As she struggles between realities, Jesus Christ suddenly appears and offers her unorthodox guidance. He accompanies her to the grocery store and for walks on the beach, while answering life’s toughest questions. His answers challenge her traditional beliefs and repeatedly emphasize there is no death, only dreams of dying.

Dreams of Dying is found in the visionary fiction genre, but it’s a difficult book to categorize because, although it features Jesus, it’s not Christian (much like my life!). If someone is exploring the concept of Oneness or ACIM, they’ll love Dreams of Dying.

dreams-of-dying-front-cover

I’m working on my third book, Earth Sentinels, which is also visionary fiction and will release this spring. It offers compelling insights into current environmental concerns woven into a fictional story. Its filled with characters, such as the fallen angel Bechard, Master of the Elements, shamans, spiritual beings and earth’s creatures, who collaborate using supernatural powers to fight against greed and corruption, demanding that mankind changes its way…or else.

The idea for the Earth Sentinels started while eating breakfast with my family at Burger King. Nobody was talking, so I thought I’d liven things up with an impromptu story. In a scary voice, like one might use over a campfire, I described animals attacking mankind in retaliation for all the damage to earth. When I finished, my gentle 14-year-old daughter exclaimed, “Yes!” and clenched her fists. It then occurred to me that I might be onto something. I wrote it for adults, but I am considering a second version for young adults.

earth-sentinels-cover

Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your experiences and introducing us to the fascinating world of shamanism. For more information about Elizabeth’s work please visit her social media sites. 

www.shamanelizabeth.com (healing site)

www.shamanelizabethherrera.com (author site)

www.blog.shamanelizabeth.com

https://twitter.com/ShamanElizabeth

https://www.facebook.com/ShamanElizabethHerrera

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SKYWALKER STORYTELLER

Ultimate Wonder Cover jpeg copyThe Ultimate Wonder: World Stories Illuminating Death by Skywalker Storyteller 

Skywalker is a storyteller, writer, poet, and nurse. She has lived and worked in many places in the US. Currently she resides in Homer, Alaska (the “cosmic hamlet by the sea”) where she participates in the circle of life by delivering babies and caring for those who are dying. Skywalker’s latest book is called The Ultimate Wonder, World Stories Illuminating Death. I found her online recently when I posted the piece on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Her book contains a wealth of wisdom about death drawn from cultures throughout the world. In many ways, it’s a very brave book given that we live in a society that avoids any discussion of death. I hope readers will seek out this unique book and bring these stories into their own lives to open up a dialogue about death. Skywalker has done an amazing job in selecting these tales and retelling them in a way that makes their inherent wisdom accessible to us all.

Welcome Skywalker and thanks for agreeing to do the interview!

Skywalker Storyteller

Skywalker Storyteller

I haven’t come across a book with a collection of stories about death before. How did the idea for the book come about?

Ellis, thank you for inviting me to talk about my work. You are right, when I researched books on death, I could find nothing like The Ultimate Wonder, even among storytelling collections. It evolved from a storytelling program I did as podcasts on my website a couple of years ago.

In December, we commemorated the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. That event touched many of us in a deeply profound way and you dedicated this book in part to the victims. Can you talk a little about how it affected you?

I was working as a school nurse in an elementary school when that tragedy occurred. So, I really felt the loss, the horror, the sadness. But, I also saw it as a reflection of this country failing, as individuals and as a society, to recognize our responsibility for such crimes. That this country continues to hold the “right” to own a gun above the commandment to treasure life only assures we will continue to endure these tragedies. Yet, on the spiritual side, whether one believes in Christ’s heaven or Buddhist reincarnation, none know the merit and grace those sacrificed earned. However, we, the living, are the ones left to grieve and to strive to prevent such disasters. Only through our own courageous efforts to create a society that recognizes that guns are more dangerous than cigarettes or drugs to our society and that everyone needs to be guided with wisdom and compassion.

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I love that you grouped your stories by theme (Death is a Nurturing Woman, Die Before We Die, Laughing in the Face of Death, Death Embraces Everyone, Resurrection). Did you specifically go looking for stories to explore each theme or did your favorite stories just tend to fit the themes?

These are stories I had told or wanted to tell over many years. Some I have never told because people do shy from stories about death – and that is why I chose them. When I did the podcasts I used different groupings. The themes developed as I looked at the stories I had chosen and found I could group them by the similar themes they possessed.

Does your experience as a nurse give you a different perspective on death than maybe most of us?

Nurses learn to accept death’s reality more easily than other people, even more so than doctors. We try to relieve the suffering of people whom we know are dying, sometimes even before doctors or family members want to admit what is happening. Being a nurse, I have seen that intractable pain and invasive procedures – that do not lead to wellness – can be worse than death. And I have seen a restful peace on the face of many immediately after death.

I naturally loved the stories you chose from the Buddhist perspective. Which stories resonated with you the most and why? Do you have a favorite you love to perform?

Among my favorite are the Buddhist and the African stories. I like Kisa Gotami because it is short and I think a story that can be used to comfort anyone, especially those losing a child. Three Wondrous Answers is one I’ve told several times. It’s important because it speaks of the importance of recognizing that all we have is now in life and we should not squander it. Transcendence is special to me because it is a love story. For that same reason I really like the African stories too, because they combine both love and death. But I like to perform all of the stories.

Photo by: James Heilman, MD

Photo by: James Heilman, MD

We live in a society that shies away from talking about death. How can your collection of wisdom stories help open a dialogue about this largely taboo subject?  

Another reason I decided to write this book, was a comment I received from a friend who listened to the podcasts. She told me one of the stories helped her to talk about death with her little niece. I know that these stories, just by their nature, will open up a dialogue because that is the power of story. So, I’m really trying to market the book more, and eventually want to produce a print version. In addition, I’m making some informative free brochures to offer people to open dialogue and help them prepare for the end of life.

Can you tell us a little about your previously published book? Are you working on another book at present?  

I actually have two other published books. My chapbook of poetry, I Am That We May Be, was published by Third World Press many years ago. I’ve posted a lot of those poems on my blog and eventually intend to release another book of poetry. My other e-book, Illimitable Beauty, is a Kindle Single. It’s a novella in which a woman has out-of-body experiences which take her around the world, into deepest spaces of the universe, and down beneath the earth’s surface. These experiences lead her to realize the power of her own diamond consciousness.Illimitable Beauty Cover

I have several ideas for other books – but right now, my primary goal is to lead readers to The Ultimate Wonder. So, my next haiku project, I’m working on now, for my WordPress Blog, is 365 haikus on the theme of the ultimate wonder.

People can learn more about The Ultimate Wonder and obtain informational brochures by visiting my website, http://www.skywalkerstoryteller.com

You can follow my blog – http://rigzenchomo.com

Oh, yes, The Ultimate Wonder, World Stories Illuminating Death is available, currently as an e-book only, at all on-line retailers, for direct links just visit http://www.skywalkerstoryteller.com

Illimitable Beauty is available on Amazon Kindle Books.

Thanks for the invitation Ellis.

And thank you Skywalker for all the gifts you bring into the world!

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SHAMAN ELIZABETH Joins Me for Author Interview- Get her FREE Book Now

FREE “Shaman Stone Soup” eBook — Limited Time!

Shaman Stone Soup

Shaman Stone Soup

Shaman Stone Soup is an Enchanting Memoir Featuring 20 True-Life Stories of Miracles. It’s available free on Amazon.com during a special promotion on January 4-8 (Kindle eBook) to help promote her new release, Dreams of Dying.

In Shaman Stone Soup, Shaman Elizabeth Herrera shares personal stories of spirit guides, angels, and enlightened beings answering calls for help through miracles. You’ll read about the spirits of ancient wise men who provided a miraculous cure from cancer for a friend; Elizabeth’s vivid dream of a pastor who needed guidance and their later “chance” meeting; a client’s husband, who was visited by three spirits showing him the past, present and future; and many more!

“Unique and captivating!” — Awareness Magazine

“Clearly written from the heart.” — Sandra Ingerman

“Beautifully written and heartfelt stories.” — Hal Z Bennett

Shaman Stone Soup will take you on a journey to the mystical side of life, where miracles and healing are natural occurrences. 

FYI: the Kindle app can be downloaded to computers and smart phones.

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WELCOME BACK FRANCIS

 

St. Francis, 13th Century

St. Francis, 13th Century

A couple of years ago I listened to one of those Great Courses lectures on St. Francis of Assisi. I patiently waited through all the talk about his early beginnings, his military experience, his illness, his rejection of society, and his eventual creation of a new order. Most of it was dry and rather matter-of-fact. Where was the meat? Where was the mystical Francis I’d heard about? Where were the stories, the hagiography, that made Francis one of the most loved and recognized saints of all time? I walked away from the lectures shaking my head in disappointment. It wasn’t until later that my reading caught up with the reality. I had been very naïve believing a history and art professor would ever broach the subject of mystical experience. It wasn’t done; even an academic degreed in comparative religion would shy away from this discussion. How sad because isn’t that what many of us hunger for?

Francis has whispered from time to time to me. A statue in someone’s garden, the visit of the Pope this fall to Assisi, a well-known spiritual teacher planning a workshop there, St. Francis hospital visible from my new house. Then recently, Pope Francis was proclaimed Time’s Man of the Year. Francis is present in ways he hasn’t been in a long time. What can a twelfth century saint have to say to the modern world? Maybe a lot.

St. Francis in Ecstasy Caravaggio, 1594

St. Francis in Ecstasy
Caravaggio, 1594

Let’s dispense with the relevant historical details (and don’t worry it won’t take twelve lectures) to seek out a deeper meaning for Francis in our time. Francis was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernadone around 1181. Born into a wealthy merchant family, he enjoyed all the advantages of his station and even went off to war fighting for Assisi. Some kind of vision compelled him to return home where he subsequently lost his zeal for the kind of life he’d been previously living and he began to reject it. He left his father’s silk business, took to serving the poor and lepers, and gained a following. Francis eventually went on to found the Order of the Friars Minor, the Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of St. Francis.

It was in San Damiano that Francis had a powerful mystical experience which was to frame his life’s work. While praying before an icon, he had a vision of Jesus who spoke to him and said, “…go and repair My house which, as you can see is falling into ruins.”  Francis’ interpretation resulted in him raising money to repair the physical church he was in. Of course, Francis’ mission was not a literal one and called him instead, to restore the institution of the Church.

Stigmatization of St. Francis Matthias Kargen, 1664

Stigmatization of St. Francis
Matthias Kargen, 1664

Although never ordained, Francis’ calling was manifested in a simple life of poverty emulating the life of Christ. His followers were “To follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and walk in his footsteps.” He was devoted to his spiritual practice and at times would withdraw from life to develop it. He had guiding visions throughout his life, was seen levitating, and was the first recorded person to receive the wounds of Christ (stigmata). Francis was a mystic, but he was also a mystic who brought back what he learned and shared it.

St. Francis leads the wolf of Gubbio. HJ Ford, 1912

St. Francis leads the wolf of Gubbio.
HJ Ford, 1912

Two of the most widely known miracles told about Francis involve his ability to work with animals. In the town of Gubbio, a wolf threatened the townsfolk. Francis intervened and made a pact with the wolf. Thereafter, the wolf remained peacefully near the village and the people fed it. The other story concerns an incident where Francis was trying to preach over the noisy chatter of swallows. He asked the birds to be silent and to the amazement of the crowd, they did. That famous story is the reason why Francis statues and art depictions often have a bird. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment.

As we draw near to Christmas and many churches display a nativity scene (Francis is credited with creating the first nativity scene), I hope you will remember a simple saint who lived an exemplary life devoted to poverty and service. His mystical connection to the Universe (God, if you prefer) was the powerhouse of his practice.

For More:

Canticle of the Sun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canticle_of_the_Sun

St. Francis Peace Prayer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prayer_of_Saint_Francis

Book: The Life and Prayers of St. Francis

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Prayers-Saint-Francis-Assisi/dp/1484938984/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387403109&sr=1-1&keywords=st+francis

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Filed under animals, Book Review, Books, Spiritual/Mysticism