Joining me today is Sandra Ingerman, a pioneer in modern shamanism, as well as devoted nature enthusiast.
With us today is the ethereal Cherie Lassiter. I met Cherie a long time ago, and it’s been wonderful to share community and grow with her.
How would you describe your work/path/art to a beginner?
My path, my spiritual work is a work in progress, always evolving and changing. Any attempt to define or confine it has interfered with the organic process that is the path of my spirit. The path began as I began to recognize my gifts and also to remember the wisdom that is in my soul. It is as if I needed to grow into the knowledge and wisdom I innately had. I feel it is important, at least for me to not label myself as one thing or another and let my spirit and soul guide me to where I can best learn what I need to learn. I say this in order to give more of a sense of freedom to young people as they wake up to their spiritual being. While choosing a spiritual path and sticking to it is the way for some, there is also a recognition that this path may change and to allow that organic process to take place without trying to make it fit into a mold. My current work is Psychic work and mediumship. This is what I offer in service to others.
How did this work call you?
The call came very early in life but it did not feel like a call, it felt like a natural thing everyone had; a connection with other realms, the spirit world and the Other Side.
As a young child I felt at one with nature in a strong way and communicated with flowers and trees. I saw the faces of spirits in flowers, trees, clouds etc… I had communication with unseen beings that talked to me and I lived in a world of imagination. I was much more in these other worlds than I was in the physical one. I recognize now that I have always lived between the worlds. Being in the physical world has always been a challenge. This has never changed. As a teen, the psychic gifts began flooding in fast and strong. This began around puberty. I opened up very fast and began having experiences that at the time were scary and unsettling. I didn’t talk about them to anyone. I recommend communication as the most important thing any awakening being can do. Talk about it, share it. No matter how strange or bizarre, find a trusted adult and share it. As a young teen entering into such unfamiliar territory as psychic experiences, I was vulnerable to forces on the other side that were not always in my best interest. Psychic protection was not familiar to me and therefore I at times got lost in the otherworlds. This means I ventured deeper into other realms without proper guidance. I was on my own in strange territory which at times could be scary. Getting in to deep without understanding can damage a growing nervous system, brain and emotional body. In my late teens I read Mists of Avalon. That began my Earth/Goddess religion path which continued for many, many years. As I read, I remembered. As I read, my spirit awakened, remembered and tapped into past life memories that guided me and directed me.
Describe your experience of spirituality as a teen/young adult. How does that experience speak through your work, today?
This is a good place to touch on something important to share. The blessings and challenges of coming into my psychic gifts was deeply influenced by my home life and my schooling.
I went to an Episcopal Church school from 5th grade through 10th grade. I wore a uniform, went to Chapel every day, and got religion crammed down my throat through fear and intimidation. Hellfire and brimstone, sin and being saved were an everyday program I was forced to take part in. This brought out my rebellious self and also had me questioning religious dogma as young as 12 or 13 years of age. Questioning religion was not acceptable and power struggles ensued. I do remember going to the headmaster/Father and asking him if dogs had souls. I had just lost my precious companion, Sugar and I knew she had a soul. This conflicted with what I was being taught so I went to the Father to try to understand. He told me that dogs did not have souls. I left his office that day no longer believing in ‘religion’ or anything they had to say in the Christian Church. There were to many things that went against what I knew in my heart and soul to be true. I wondered why everyone else just seemed to go along with everything without questioning the dogma.
Beyond the school life that tried to mind control me ( and failed), my home life was very chaotic and at time violent. As the oldest of 5 children in a family that despite private school struggled a lot financially. For many reasons, there was a lot of fighting between parents and this was not done behind closed doors. The frustration, anger and fear of my parents was a daily event. This fear erupted into physical, mental and emotional abuse. As a sensitive child my survival mechanism was to escape into my own world. This escape into other worlds enhanced my connection with other realms. This constant chaotic environment taught me to read energy as this was a tool for survival. Taking the temperature of the room, the house, the parents was a constant neccessity. I learned to sense ahead of time what others were feeling and thinking so that I could protect myself. Walking on eggshells much of the time caused me to become highly sensitive to energy. Escaping the negativity and chaos around me was a defense mechanism that actually helped my psychic abilities to heighten dramatically. I was a highly creative child and young woman and a gifted musician and songwriter. Escaping reality into my music gave me an outlet that allowed me to express myself.
I also learned very early that I had healing abilities. Feeling the pain of others was a daily experience and desiring to heal them was a daily experience as well.
Once could say it was a perfect storm to becoming a powerful psychic. Being a musician I naturally was and am very clairaudient which means I ‘hear’ the voice of Spirit very strongly. I hear the voices and thoughts of those on this side as well as the Other Side. My sensitivity is oftentimes debilitating as it is hard to be out in the world without ‘over-feeling’. But I would not trade my early experiences for anything as they helped me to be the person I am today and has helped me to have empathy, compassion and understanding of the pain others feel. This is not a curse, though at times it feels that way. I am grateful for the gifts I have and for being able to serve others.
Cherie is a Professional Psychic and Medium. Learn more about her at: www.cherielassiter.net.
Dagaz - Day - We’ve not seen Dagaz since last fall (Mabon, to be specific), so it’s nice to have this closure Rune bring a sense of wrapping up loose ends, now. We can all do with a bit of that, yes?
Dagaz translates to “day,” though it means more than just a turn on Earth’s axis. Bringing in elements of accountability, this stave draws our awareness to micro cycles. Where Jera, in the second aett, speaks of the annual harvest, Dagaz, almost closing the third aett, indicates the daily reaping. Representing the close of a full day’s work, this metaphor for celebrating the culmination of a cycle and regrouping to begin another day is telling.
Yes, it portends observing the bigger needs–notice what came in, what went out, what worked, what didn’t, what to repeat, what new tricks to implement, what to save, what to throw away, what to give. That’s Hearth Accounting 101. Because it focuses on such a slim slice of time, Dagaz, is also about Heart Accounting. It gives the opportunity to realize what of the day had meaning, who we spent our time with, what was joyful, where we need more joy, how attitude affects all of the above. Internal auditing is key, here.
Dagaz comes at the end of something, usually a lot of hard work, and it whispers of celebration. How often do we celebrate at the end of a day? Most of us are just glad we made it home again and in one piece, with the promise of some downtime until we have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.
The message is: focus on the now. Don’t look too far ahead. Enjoy what is. Kindle some excitement for what may be, by truly becoming the present. Because at the end of the day… another will follow.
I sometimes call Dagaz the ‘so what?’ Rune, because that’s its simplest, yet most profound teaching. Certainly a huge task has been completed, and celebrations are in order. So what? Don’t get too emotionally involved in things. Keep the ego in check, and do our best, because in the end, there is no end. Only a chance to do it all, better.
Modern shaman and best-selling author S. Kelley Harrell’s new book, “Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism,” out May 30 from Soul Rocks Books, is a light-hearted and informative handbook introducing shamanism to today’s young adults and beginning seekers. Author and journalist Beth Winegarner’s latest book, “The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in The Crossfire and Why Teens Are Taking Them Back,” addresses how certain interests — including alternative spiritualities like shamanism, neopaganism and others — have been unfairly blamed for teen violence. Kelley and Beth got together for a chat about alternative faiths, cultural misperceptions and the importance of trusting youth as they find their own paths.
Beth: I know practitioners within Santeria and Palo Mayombe who say that those paths are gaining in popularity among teens. Are you seeing anything similar with shamanism? Do you think more teens are feeling the call? Why does this book make sense at this particular time?
Kelley: I do see this is the case with modern shamanism. It makes sense to put this book out now because so many young people aren’t satisfied with the status quo of religious paths, lifestyles, gender issues, philosophies, and even career concerns, in general. Their processes and options are very different, even from when we were that age. There are so many conflicting messages in media, that having a supportive, yet, disciplined way to examine the unseen and engage with it, connect it back to mundane life, is very grounding. Young people are looking for ways to bring personal meaning more into everything they do. That’s what rebellion is about. Expressing that need in a compassionately supported context ultimately benefits us all.
A key thing I see that’s different about young people, now, compared to older generations, is a lack of fear, which manifests in a couple of important ways. First, they aren’t afraid of intuitive or even supernatural experiences. They express being a great deal more capable to accept them for what they are. Even when they don’t have an understanding of what those experiences are, they don’t run from them. There’s a greater willingness to just accept that life is bigger without having to define that what means. Likewise, teens, today, aren’t afraid to diverge from their elders’ philosophies and viewpoints. While they may not wave that difference around, they recognize that they approach life differently, and seem more able to express compassion for difference, period. It’s when they are not shown compassion for the difference that shadow becomes a factor.
Side note, but I’m also tired of information on paths such as shamanism coming from outside the shamanic community. The broad resources that flit through media read copied and pasted from some 1970s text book. There is a real need to see the path as alive and evolving, and in seeing it as such, a possibility for personal connection to the unseen.
Beth: I hadn’t thought about the possibility that younger generations might be more open to supernatural experiences without being scared of them. I wonder if that’s a product of growing up in a more agnostic, or even atheist society, rather than being raised in more dedicated religious households and not being so exposed to the idea that anything outside the church is scary. One of the things I noted when I was researching “The Columbine Effect” is that kids — even young kids — have a very clear idea of what they’re comfortable with and what’s too scary or out of bounds. So even if they’re less afraid of things that might make their parents or especially grandparents uncomfortable, they still show a propensity for defining boundaries for their exploration.
Those findings connect with something I noticed in “Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism.” In the beginning of the book, you say that we often don’t think of children as wise. Where do you think that idea comes from, and why is it wrong?
Kelley: I think it comes from old virtues around control and a general need to see children as creatures to be shaped, rather than allowed to unfold. That ideology hasn’t worked for myself or anyone I’ve worked with. I find so many wounds around suppressing the wisdom of childhood. What’s wrong about that is obviously that it denies the intrinsic value of the child, though it also creates a rut in which adults become stuck and don’t grow. The education system in the US is a great example of that. Instead of realizing that forcing all kids down the same curriculum the same way doesn’t work, we keep finding ways to narrow the system. It’s a pattern of, “This is how we’ve always done it, ” rather than allowing individuality and creating ways to meet needs more openly.
Beth: I think that probably leads to something else I found in my research, which is that many kids explore a pagan or other alternative path in part because they become so disillusioned with the church or even with a lack of spirituality in the household, and they crave something that helps them create meaning in their lives and maybe also validates those kinds of supernatural experiences you mentioned earlier. Whether it’s neopaganism, Thelema, or chaos magic, these inquiries can turn into meaningful and sincere spiritual paths for teens. It might start out as rebellion but it turns into something else.
That said, many assume that kids who explore a non Judeo/Christian/Islamic path are only “dabbling” or “rebelling,” that children aren’t capable of seriously following a spiritual path they weren’t raised in. But what’s interesting among shamans, even modern shamans, is that the “call” often comes in childhood, doesn’t it? What makes shamanism different in this respect?
Kelley: It does come in childhood. I think shamanism is different in this respect because we are all born animists, which is realizing that all things are innately alive. Children pretend their stuffed animals talk to them. Plants, rocks, cars — everything is a companion to be interacted with, that contributes to the child’s understanding of life. We come in wired for that experience, then as we age into a social system larger than our immediate family–becoming school-aged–we are taught to shun that perspective. We’re taught that imagining livelihood is bad and displays immaturity, possibly lower intellect, or emotional problems. In that light, the connection between judgement of mental state and the unseen starts very early in life, as well. Our natural way of sensing and engaging life is quickly redacted.
Beth: You also write about the line between shamanic experience and what we might consider schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I’ve written a great deal about youth violence being linked to paganism, Satanism, the occult, etc., when in reality we need to look more at violent kids’ mental health and state of mind. How can parents, and culture at large, get better at telling the difference between a child who is experiencing visions or trance-journeys and one who is experiencing delusions induced by illness?
Kelley: In anyone, of any age, the difference between invoking trance and delusions is control. If a young person can control the unseen experiences s/he is having, that isn’t mental illness. If s/he can change the dialogue between self and spirit guides, that isn’t delusion. Control is the key component of trance work — moving into trance at will, directing what happens within, and leaving trance when desired — these are the intended, willed choices that a shaman makes. Someone who can’t control going into trance, who feels victimized or controlled by the experiences within trance, or can’t make trance stop, is experiencing a state of being that could be considered a mental or biochemical condition.
What do you think is the cultural motivation to assign ‘spiritual’ deviation to a youth’s errant behaviour , rather than explore it as the result of mental illness? How does this emphasis shape our view of young people, and these spiritual paths?
Beth: Well, keep in mind that until a few hundred years ago, we didn’t have much of a concept of mental illness at all; the feelings and behaviors we now recognize as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or even neurological issues like epilepsy and migraines, used to be explained in terms of demons and possession. And I think that when it comes to kids, the same social impulses that lead us to assume children can’t be wise or capable of their own agency have also given us the idea that kids aren’t capable of being very mentally ill, that it’s something only adults suffer from seriously. For example, a lot of people don’t think teenagers are capable of being sociopaths, but in Dave Cullen’s book on the Columbine High School shootings, he makes a very strong case for the argument that Eric Harris was a sociopath.
So, if you don’t believe kids are capable of being so ill that they’re likely to commit violence, it’s easier to look for other causes when they become violent. And if they happened to be exploring an alternative spirituality at the time, it’ll seem like an obvious culprit.
Of course, one of the reasons those explanations can make sense to people is that they don’t actually understand pagans or Satanists or occultists all that well. They’re relying on what they’ve heard on TV news or horror films, which is far from accurate. It’s like what you said about relying on the wrong sources of information about shamanism earlier. Instead, people who have a teenager exploring an alternative faith need to read and talk with legitimate sources. I talk about that a lot in “The Columbine Effect,” along with the ways various minority faiths and paths are misunderstood by society at large. So, what are some of the misconceptions people have about shamans and shamanism? Are those perceptions harmful to the practice?
Kelley: This is a personal button. The overlap of New Age ideology and earth-based paths hasn’t always been a service to shamanism. Out of the New Age movement, a lot fluffy, everything-is-always-good perspectives emerged, regarding shamanism. One of those is the idea that all mentally ill people are shamans, which is erroneously based on some nebulous tenet that tribal cultures revere the mentally ill as wisdomkeepers. This is always contrasted with the derision of the mentally ill in the west, which is virtually incontestable.
Every person contributes valuable intuitive insights, regardless of mental state. Everyone. No one is elite and special in that regard. The thing is, tribal spiritual leaders know the difference between someone who is mentally ill, and someone to whom they can completely turn over the spiritual reins of the tribe. Someone who can’t control their ecstatic experience isn’t acting in the role of shaman, and that is the difference. Being able to go into trance doesn’t make you a shaman. Having a spirit guide doesn’t make you a shaman. Just having visions or interaction with spirits doesn’t make you a shaman. Being able to bring those experiences back and shape them into some improved, manifest state for the community makes you a shaman. It’s not the technique, but the role. This has been a steep learning curve in the modern path.
How can practitioners of minority faiths bring awareness of their paths to wider society in a way that is non-threatening, yet informative? What I see is compartmentalization of faiths. Practitioners/Leaders of faiths are out there, writing, speaking, engaging in their own community. They don’t step out, often with good reason, based on maltreatment by the larger community. Rarely does wider society venture in to fact check, let alone learn more. How does that education happen?
Beth: That’s an excellent question. As you point out, many don’t want to speak out in the larger community because they could face backlash. It’s already tough to walk an unorthodox path, which means many people don’t want to go the extra mile of being an ambassador for their faith. And in some cases, as with chaos magic and Satanism, I found that there was a vocal faction who decidedly didn’t want to work toward more societal acceptance. They enjoyed being seen as evil and scary by outsiders to their faith and weren’t interested in anyone accepting and tolerating them.
Fortunately, I think there are at least a few out there — writers, journalists and people who are willing to make themselves available to the press as sources — who are helping bridge the gap between spiritual communities who maybe don’t want to be their own ambassadors, and a culture who otherwise wouldn’t make the effort. Sometimes, this can unfortunately come across as one of those “Gosh, isn’t this weird/fascinating/cool” feature stories, but not always. For example, when the so-called “Craigslist killer,” Miranda Barbour, claimed she belonged to a Satanic cult, both the Satanic Church and the Satanic Temple — the ones who are designing the Oklahoma monument — were quick to talk with major news outlets and say, “This woman has nothing to do with us and we don’t kill people.” That’s exactly what we need more of, and it’s great that the Church of Satan Peter Gilmore, who comes across as a calm, diplomatic and sensible representative for a church that still has many of negative stereotypes to dispel. With time, more groups are learning that a spokesperson like Gilmore is a real asset, and I think that will help a lot.
Originally published at The Wild Hunt.
I’m grateful to share Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism with a great group of spiritual seekers this week.
I’m thankful for a peaceful birthday.
I’m thankful for insight.
I’m happy to celebrate the green light on my first book Gift of the Dreamtime ten years ago this week.
I’m grateful for the people who bless my life.
What are you grateful for this week? How will you show thanks?
This post is part of VikLit‘s blog hop, Celebrate the Small Things. Participate by following the link and adding your name to the Linky list, then post your gratitude every Friday. Easiest blog hop ever!
Click here to hop on… the hop, and thanks for coming with me on this journey of self-empowerment.
With us today is Abstract Expressionist, Clara K. Johnson. Clara is a powerhouse of wisdom, creativity, and grace. Check out her interview, and read the details of her giveaway, below:
How would you describe your work?
My artwork is created with feelings. I let the painting dictate what comes next. There isn’t much forethought given. It’s mainly subconscious. I love nature, colors and the solar system.
My spiritual path has been described to me as a self-evolution. Meaning that I choose to seek a closer relationship with Our Creator who dwells within us. A lot of times, people have to have a near death experience to in order to better understand the SELF. The SOUL.
How did this work call you?
Ever since I was a little girl, I was always painting and drawing. I just took it for granted. One day, when I was about nine, without my parents permission or knowledge, I applied to one of those mail correspondence art classes. Next thing I knew some man was at my parents door. I knew then that I was I an artist, I just didn’t know how to be. I didn’t complete the classes. Although I continue to create stuff for my bedroom, my parents’ walls, then later in my apartments I decorated them with art and all kinds of things I’d refashion.
I took my artistic gift seriously at the age of 34, about a year after my father passed away. His passing impacted me more than I knew it would at the time.
Describe your experience of spirituality as a teen/young adult.
HA!! As a teen, I like to think that I had a relationship with God. My dad was Islamic, my mom is agnostic (I think). My dad’s parents were Baptists, the mother and father of the church, in fact. I spent summers there and went to church 3 times a week! At home, we had a scattered attendance in the mosque. We didn’t eat pork, celebrate any holidays except Thanksgiving and that type of thing but there was no structure. I didn’t claim any religion but I knew there was a higher power and called on its strength often.
What’s your blessing to beginning seekers and youth exploring various spiritual traditions, today?
I would like to offer that GOD is just a word used to describe the intangible force that creates and sustains all things. Some call this force Allah, Jesus, Buddha, Jehovah. The Divine, The Universe. It’s all the same thing. It’s the labeling that keeps us divided and lost. We are all one! Apart of the Whole!
Learn more about Clara at:
Also, if you’re in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, comment here to win a free one-on-one art class with Clara!
I’m elated to have with us today author and all-around mystic, Sandra Carrington-Smith. I’m particularly happy to have her because she’s a friend and North Carolina author, and because she’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Her story is unique, and I hope you enjoy learning about her.
How would you describe your work/path/art to a beginner?
My writing revolves around self-expression of inner truth. I love to talk about spirituality, and the way seemingly opposite paths can merge to create a powerful and solid system of belief. I find it harder to address a point using non-fiction, so I choose to do it with fiction. Novels paint mental pictures and they make it easier for the reader to absorb abstract concepts. My novels are suspenseful, but they are all heavily laced with spiritual reflections.
How did this work call you? At what life stage?
I started writing poetry when I was very young, but I didn’t go very far with it. Novel writing began when I was in my mid-thirties and it took me by surprise. The Book of Obeah was initially going to be just a short story that I was going to pen for myself, then it became infused with life of its own and decided it wanted to be a full-length novel.
Describe your experience of spirituality as a teen/young adult.
I grew up in a very eclectic system of belief. It was almost like being a small child raised in a family where several languages were spoken at once. It was a bit confusing at the time, but as years went by it became obvious to me that we all seek a very similar truth, and although we might follow different paths to get to it, the end goal is the same. The paths themselves aren’t all that separate if one looks at them with a clinical eye – we all strive to find God; God works through existing life forms and elevated forms of energy to help us evolve; we all are vulnerable to and afraid of evil.
How does that experience speak through your work, today?
My personal spiritual beliefs, which of course stemmed and evolved from my upbringing, play a tremendous part in my writing.
Sandra Carrington-Smith is an Italian-born author who relocated to the United States in the late 80′s after marrying a US soldier who was serving overseas. Although writing was Sandra’s deepest passion since childhood, her dream of becoming a published author had to be placed on hold for several years. Moving to a new country provided several challenges, the biggest one being the language barrier she encountered when she first arrived.
In order to become fully integrated, Sandra tapped into her love for reading, and over time her vocabulary grew extensively. She gave birth to three children and devoted most of her time to raising a family. By the time she was in her late 30′s, Sandra decided to revisit her old passion for writing, and penned a novel of paranormal suspense, The Book of Obeah, followed by a self-improvement book, Housekeeping for the Soul: A Practical Guide to Restoring Your Inner Sanctuary. Both titles were sold to the same publisher and released in 2010. Killer in Sight (A Tom Lackey Mystery) was released in May 2012, and The Rosaries (sequel of The Book of Obeah) was released in December 2012.
The Book of Obeah went on to win an international book award. It was released as an audio book in the second quarter of 2013 by Cherry Hill Publishing, and it is narrated by Dave Fennoy. The title is a finalist in the prestigious 2014 Audie Awards, in the category of thriller/suspense. Currently, Sandra is working on two new novels: Shadows of a Tuscan Moon and The Key. She lives in Raleigh, NC, with her husband, children and three cats.