Tag: Q&A

What Balance Feels Like – An Intentional Insights Reader Q&A

I still accept Q&A from readers of my blog, regarding animism, shamanism, and all manner of soul healing. If you would like to submit an inquiry, read the TOS and direct it me.

Dear Kelley
I have the gift of a new start and want to honour, respect, and dive into it joyously. A drag in that is my relation to others. I feel wounded from things in the past and I don’t want to take that into my new life. How can I go about releasing the last vestiges of the old pain and my part in it, to attract love and support into my new life? Thank you for creating this interesting and generous opportunity. ~A

Photo by Kristaps Bergfelds ~flickrThanks for your note, A. When I see summaries of where people are along manifesting their heart’s desires, I often see sand drawings along a coastal shoreline. Instead of seeing you at the shoreline, I see you about waist-deep in the surf, attempting to still the waves with the palms of your hands.

When I ask this aspect of you how stilling the water symbolizes the way you relate to others, the response is, “I just need a little space to get steady, then they can come.” She’s indicating intentionally holding back relationships until some self-defined sense of readiness or healing has come.

I ask her what that readiness or healing feels like, and I find myself floating gently on the surf. So, she does have an idea of what that balance feels like. Incorporating the sense of being carried while also actively participating is key. There is also an emphasis on trust, and allowing support from others.

Appealing to my guides, they indicate that water should be an available comfort to sink into, during this shift. The body needs that gentle support to release emotions internalized in the cells. With intention, water can help shepherd away memories and uncomfortable feelings the body has carried.

They also suggest looking beyond the current manifestation of the self, to ancestral lines, and do any release work necessary there. Some of the relationship distress isn’t yours, A, and that’s why the work you’ve done to release it only reaches so far. Tune the focus of healing more widely around you, through your lines on all sides, and  across space and time, to release anything unwanted, regarding relationship hurt. You don’t have to identify these ancestral wounds, or even name them. Acknowledge them, and through your healing methods and spiritual support, allow them to leave. A few passes with a H’oponopono ritual may help and bring comfort with the changes coming into your life.

If you don’t have anyone who can help you do this work, it may be something we can do remotely.

Best to you, A!

Q&A – Breaking Unconscious Patterns

Dear Kelley, I am writing with great anxiety, pain, and desperation because of a deep sense of loss and sadness and affection, of which I cannot make sense. I have found myself feeling very attached to a man I met briefly a few months ago, and with whom I have kept in contact online. Since meeting him I have felt so powerfully drawn, and deep pain in my heart in ways I have not felt ever before. We live in opposite sides of the world, different lives, etc. Part of me wants to somehow break ‘free’ from this, yet I feel as though I am being punished. Any advice, guidance would be deeply appreciated. Many thanks in advance, Liz.

Photo by SurFeRGiRL30 @ flickrThanks for your note, Liz. When I ask to see the dynamic between yourself and this man, I’m taken to a familiar place. I tend to see how people organize their lives as sand drawings along a coastal  shoreline. When I examine yours, it loops and scrawls spiraling back on themselves in a jumble, and this man is a dark tower in the distance. No trail in the sand leads to the tower. The proxy of you who stands with me on the shore is experiencing a great deal of anxiety and stress around finding a straight line in the sand, yet she just keeps doubling back to where she starts.

My sense of that image is the unfulfillment of this relationship is connected to a perceived pattern of wanting things you can’t have.  It isn’t at all about whether the relationship will work, if there’s a connection, or how the two of you are connected. It’s about an internalized dynamic for you, that says, “Anything I really want is clearly out of my reach. Anything that feels good to me must be unobtainable.”  The obstacles you perceive in distance and life are real. However, the angst around them is being exacerbated by these beliefs, which came long before this man was in your life. They feel like unconscious patterns that have been with you for a long time, and to varying degrees, manifest a sense of not getting what you want in other life areas, as well.

Focusing on the romantic desires will derail you from releasing these beliefs.  Clarify if you really want to work on the source of these feelings. If so, I suggest doing some releasing work around them, and possibly soul retrieval to locate and learn more about your personal power in discerning what you want at a deep level, and learning to create life around having it. If you are comfortable doing distance work, I’m available for that, and if you want to find someone close to you to work with, I may know someone who can do just that.

My best to you, Liz.

If you have a life challenge that you’d like insight on, or questions about everyday shamanism, contact Kelley.

Author S. Kelley Harrell on writing, life, and shamanism

A bit back I had the pleasure of being interviewed by David Garlow of the Examiner.com. Here’s a reprise if you missed it:

With all of the writing groups that writers take part in you are bound to see subjects of every type come across your screen. It is how we all connect, interact, and help be it through promoting, beta reading, and feedback on ideas or paragraphs, even a simple sentence. Within these I could not help but notice Kelley Harrell for her subject, personality, and approachability. Believe me, not all writers are that approachable; I compare it to a gamers group or even a music scene with competition, some prima donna egos, you know; like anything else.

Kelley has some rich and deep subjects that she tackles in a unique way and that more than anything is what made me look closer. I found someone with a vibrant personality, in touch with the universe around her, and whose work is truly impressive. From her own Bio:

Kelley is best known for publishing shamanic memoir, spiritual nonfiction, and magickal realism. She also writes for The Huffington Post, and has maintained the blog Intentional Insights – Q&A From Within, since 2004. Her work has been published in Innerchange Magazine, Mystic Pop, SageWoman, The Beltane Papers, Women Writers, Women, Books, Savvy Authors, If… a Journal of Spiritual Exploration, OmPlace AltWire, Astro Abby.

Author S. Kelley Harrell

Poetry collections featuring her work include Chiron Review, The Blotter, Bottom Line Writers, Charlotte Writer’s Circle. Her short stories have been featured in The Windhover, The Olive Leaf.

Take a few moments to get to know more about this wonderful woman and all that she does, it really is quite impressive.

Interview with author S. Kelley Harrell

So the first question is when did you fall in love with writing; what was the catalyst for you?

I don’t recall not being in love with writing. Before I learned the alphabet, my mother transcribed stories I dictated to her. Learning to write was my gateway drug to life. I loved it—the feel of the pen in my hand, the evidence of my brain on paper, how it all fit together to form a cohesive movement. I just loved it from the beginning, and I still do.

I know a lot of writers write for several outlets beyond books, what other outlets do you work?

I have kept a blog for 9 years, Intentional Insights – Q&A From Within, responding to inquiries readers have about paranormal events in their lives, dreams, modern shamanism and animism. I also write a modern spirituality column for the Huffington Post, and I publish fiction under another name.

What genre(s) do you normally work in and why?

I am best known for shamanic memoir, though I also write nonfiction spirituality books, New Adult Magickal Realism, and all sorts of fiction. I’m just in love with writing. It’s another sense to me, so I filter as much expression through it as I possibly can.

How did you get started and were there any frustrations? How did you get beyond those?

The first book I submitted for publication was Gift of the Dreamtime, almost 10 years ago. At that time, no one was writing about modern shamanism, certainly not from within the ecstatic trance perspective. Everything you read on shamanism then was academic anthropology, fiction, or nonfictional accounts of what shamanism was like. My book was the first to show how the shamanic narrative (healing story) works from inside, making the reader part of the soul travel, thus healing.

At that time, publishers wanted anything shamanic to be shaped into a self-help book, following the recipe of personal story, universal conclusions drawn from that experience, followed by end-of-chapter exercises for the reader to journey along. To do that would have entirely changed the format and writing of my book, let alone that fantastic vantage point within trance. It took me a while to find a publisher who got what I was doing, and my life hasn’t been the same since!

What are your works thus far and where can people find them?

  • Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma
  • Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World
  • Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion

What is forthcoming and can you give a brief description?

I have a few nonfiction projects in the works. One is a collection of healing stories by female survivors of assault. I’m in the final stages of writing a memoir of shamanic techniques in working with chronic health conditions, and am mid-way through a comprehensive book on modern shamanism. I’ve also completed and am seeking a home for my first novel, The Last Snow Moon.

I have learned that the literary world can be quite cutthroat; what advice would you give to a person trying to find a way to publish their work?

Do what’s right for you, period. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to, but you know you need to. Things you don’t want to do aren’t the same as what doesn’t support your truth. Knowing that difference can take you a long way. Go with what’s right for you. It’s always the best path in the end.

Thursday Betwixt – After the Journey

Herbert's Soul by Joe Poole @ flickr“Then he began to think of all the things Christopher Robin would want to tell him when he came back from wherever he was going to, and how muddling it would be for a Bear of Very Little Brain to try and get them right in his mind. ‘So, perhaps,’ he said sadly to himself, ‘Christopher Robin won’t tell me anymore,’ and he wondered if being a faithful Knight meant that you just went on being faithful without being told things” ~A. A. Milne, The Wonderful World of Pooh

I’ve been re-thinking the format of my blog, and in doing so would like to create a more open dialogue around modern shamanism and animism.

“That’s not so different from what you’ve been doing,” you say.

Well, yes, but after spending some time clarifying what I need to do on my personal path and in my work, I realize this blog isn’t doing enough. I’m still open to the reader Q&A format, so feel free to shoot me inquiries. The thing is,  it’s hard to ask a question when you don’t know the subject well. While we have come a long way, culturally, in the twenty-five years of my study of shamanism, we still don’t talk about the lifestyle around a shamanistic or animistic lifestyle, which frankly, has a lot to do with the problems that arise when learning to journey. To identify my entries on this theme, I will be posting them under the category “Thursday Betwixt,” dedicated space in my blog to address a topic with a foot in both worlds.

And before you say it, I know I’ve always said there’s no veil. There’s no line that says here’s Here, and———-there’s conveniently, separately located There, the official Other Side. Nonetheless, the need to articulate how that between experience feels and works in daily life requires some kind of identifier, and I’m not going to reinvent the conceptual wheel. Rather, I’ll just go with what we’ve got.

So here’s where this new direction starts: life after shamanic journeying. When I first discovered there were classes that taught shamanic techniques, that collection of techniques was put forward as shamanism. Well, they’re not =) What is even harder to process is that many are still presenting journeying and shamanism in that synonymous way–as if the ability to slide into trance makes one a shaman. Without celebration of our natural inclination toward trance states. Without discussion of what to do with the information stirred by the mere process of journeying. Without discussion of how life after that point changes–even if you have no plans to become a shaman.  Without plans for how to carry the ecstatic experience into daily life–back to the foot in both worlds thing. Without provisions for how to recreate that ecstasy on your own.

Many present the technique of journeying as the feature distinguishing shamanism from other intuitive/psychic arts. It is. But that’s not all. I’ve said from day one of deciding–and it is a decision–to be a modern shaman, that anyone can see. We’re all seers, all intuitive. Going into trance doesn’t make you a shaman, it makes you human. It’s not a special skill reserved for certain people. But knowing what to do with intuition, how to respond to it, how to incorporate its wisdom into everyday life is a very special skill, that can–and should–be learned, for your own journeys, and especially if you want to work with others. Otherwise, dipping into journeying can make a huge mess, a spiritual crisis bigger than what brought you to learning the technique to start with.

To that end, a lot of people come to me, after a crash weekend course in journeying, needing to sort it all out, because that’s the part that can’t be taught in two days. Apart from the emotional fallout–which spans absolute ecstasy to horror, depression to joy, and everything between–that often occurs after learning to journey, the thing I hear most is how they can’t hold the ecstatic experience. They can’t recreate it the way they felt it in those early soul adventures.

The very first introductions we make, actively engaging the unseen, blow our socks off. Most definitely they alter our sense of self and Life, on a dime.  Even people who consider their initial soul travels “unsuccessful,” with regard to meeting allies recognize the innate power of the altered state.  In fact, often those with least expectation are the most deeply affected. Without fail, though, eventually the colors fade, the messages obscure. Sometimes communication stops short, and guides don’t even show up. Why?

Sure,  part of that can be chalked up to dynamics. There’s something magickal about group sacred space, particularly when it’s created with the intention to facilitate and support shamanic journeying. Creating space in isolation doesn’t always get the same results, though if done with the intention of bringing in the totems in your familiar to help you hold the space, it can be even more personal, more transcendent.  Another culprit is not observing ritual for journeying. The key thing to know about not being able to sustain the thrilling, vivid journeys of fledgling soul travel is… no one can recreate it that way, without manifesting through the rest of life what each journey teaches.  Journeys become rote because shamanism isn’t just journeying.

It’s not a personal fault; it’s a deep component of our individualistic culture. We aren’t steeped in honoring the unseen through ordinary, commonplace gestures. Our standard mode of operation is one or the other–Here or There. We don’t recognize both at once. Even those of us on religious paths generally aren’t that thorough in bringing those spiritual tenets through all the days we’re not in earshot of the congregation. We are not known for walking our talk.

Without consistent observation of the unseen  when we’re not in trance, it’s really hard to sustain exhilarating journeys into the Dreamtime. Journeying is all or nothing, in that to continue having life-altering experiences in trance, you have to manifest what you glean in them, in day-to-day life. What we do Here, directly impacts what we can achieve There. It’s all connected. When we water our houseplants, we have to consider our relationship to them, how our care affects them. When we walk through a space, we have to realize we aren’t just moving through it, but are engaging with it.  When we encounter conflict, we mustn’t just rush to heal it, but consider its role in our story.

As seekers on a shamanistic path it’s not just suggested that we root into the unseen as deeply as possible, it’s expected. We don’t just roll up on the Other Side to learn things and heal ourselves or others. Relationships with Guides and totems need reciprocity as much as other relationships in our lives. Also, shamanic journeying isn’t just the formation of relationships to the spiritual allies you encounter in that state, it’s a relationship to journeying, itself.

Journeying is a lifestyle change. It gives you the seeds to grow what you need in your life. Unplanted, nothing can grow, Here or There. Planted, you grow everywhere.

Healing the PTSD of Hurtful Etheric Caregiving

Kelley, I found you through Soul Cafe. Yesterday I had a horrendous experience with a sound healer. I felt he did not listen to me, passed judgement on me, left me feeling hurt, angry, abused, terribly alone, and misunderstood. He talked a lot and no sound healing took place. In trying to make sense of this and reviewing the session I feel he was very harshly teaching me a lesson about there being no one able to save me but myself, that I have all the power to do so. What is it about me that creates situations where I always feel isolated, different, not heard properly? I seem unable to communicate clearly. In that session I quite literally lost my voice. I keep getting stuck in cycles where I begin to blossom and then wither, and experience loss. More than the loss of the person there is the pain of looking at the situation and having to contemplate how wrong I was about everything, all the positive signs. How can I return on my path? How can I pick myself up again? Best wishes, Sam

Thanks for your note, Sam. I’m sorry that you experienced such judgement from a supposed healer. I wholly trust your assessment of the situation, and I’m glad that you do, too. Although this previous Q&A isn’t the same as what you experienced, the underlying necessity of etheric work having meaning for the client persists.   Not only could he not address your concerns, he couldn’t meet you where you are.  I’m sure the harsh things he said to you did urge you into a different, more aware energetic space. The thing is, he could have ushered you into that space without judgement, fear, and now PTSD, and that’s the part that really chaps me. Not only did he not meet his obligation to you in the healing, but the whole session didn’t have to be that way.

When I ask your guides to reveal the resonant thread in this experience, they flick that guy in the ear. As well, they deeply urge you to find and connect with a spiritual community of peers, benevolent beings not necessarily on the same path you are, but those who can compassionately witness your growth and allow you to witness theirs. At some point we all need like-minded others who can help us hold the space–our own space and that which we hold in All That Is.  We’re not meant to hold it alone all the time.  This guy reinforced to you that not only are you supposed to hold it alone all the time, but that there is something wrong with you if you don’t.  You came to him asking for help doing just that, and he let you down then kicked you for being down.

Finding like-hearted folk will help you heal from this ‘healing’ experience. I respect that you are a spiritual person and you look to the soulful education in all experiences. This drive to find the light in all things carries you. The hurt that this man inflicted is real and needs to be released. As you describe, he was only the most recent experience in a long chain of loss. Because the hurt he inflicted is so fresh, healing this hurt can provide a release for the entire pattern. The guy didn’t have a message for you, bless him. He was the message:  It’s time to release feeling stuck in a pattern of hurt and loss.

In the New Age is the sentiment that we all heal ourselves. While I do believe that, the statement is incomplete. We can’t heal what we aren’t aware of, and we can’t heal with skills we don’t have.  Sadly, numerous energy workers  cling to the idea that we should all just know what we need.  To me the inability of a healer to fill that informational gap shows at minimum a lack of education in the ability to teach the needed skills, and at most a lack of compassion in helping at a more human level. With some healers there is so much emphasis on the spiritual, that more mundane needs go unmet. Wounds happen on all levels, and so does healing.

I do encourage you to connect with others, and through references find a healer who can compassionately assist you on your path.  If at all possible, find someone with the skills to help you process what comes up in the work you are doing.  If a healer can’t help you with skills to cope with the emotional depths, ask them for a reference to a professional who can.  Depending on where you are, I would love to work with you–in-person or remotely.  Also, there are a couple of things that would be helpful for you to do for yourself:

  • Alone in a quiet, meditative space, imagine going back to that session. See it in full detail–the moment you walked in the door, the sounds, the scents, the way it felt, when you met him. Be the experience again, only this time you have your voice. As the experience unfolds, say the things you needed to say to that guy and couldn’t. Let him know how you feel about the way he is treating you and about his role as an energy worker. Thank him for the growth you’ve had as a result of meeting him, and see yourself walk out the door. When you feel grounded in your body, open your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  • Another thing is, your guides are very close to you and are very in tune with what you really need. They are available to inform you on direction in your spiritual growth. Imagine meeting them in a similar fashion as above. Alone in a quiet, meditative space, see yourself in the most comfortable, serene Nature space that you can conceive. Notice how it feels, how it smells, the atmosphere. As you sit and enjoy the space, hold in thought that you allow your guides to come. They may be humanoid higher beings, animal or plant totems. Just sit with what comes and observe. If and when it feels appropriate, ask them questions. They can be a bit tricky about interviews, so tread lightly and keep it mostly to observation. Do this everyday for a week or two. The closer you come to your spirit guides, the more you will attract a solid spiritual community in form.

Cheers for you, Sam. You’re onto something great!


Auction for Insight and Literary Goddesses Everywhere!

As a long time reader and contributor to SageWoman, with your help I’d like to make a Rebound Donation to celebrate 25 years of trailblazing in the literary Goddess community, and to help them rise above the financial ramifications of Borders closing.  For this donation I am auctioning a 60 Minute Distance Soul Reading.

SageWoman Rebound DonationThrough my shamanic practice, Soul Intent Arts, I’ve done distance Soul Readings for clients for thirteen years.  This one-hour reading allows me to present your intention in a shamanic journey to your spirit guides and gain a general overview into present life dynamics. Once payment (PayPal only) is received I will contact you via email to learn your intention for the reading and to schedule it. A writeup of the reading will be emailed to you within 3-4 days after.

Get a better idea of what insight comes up in a Soul Reading by checking out my shamanic Q&A column, Intentional Insights. More info on the logistics of readings is available at How to Prepare for a Distance Soul Reading.

Bidding starts at $60. However, if bidding goes above $90, I will also include a followup interaction, allowing in-depth questions and intentions to be addressed.  Bid by commenting on this post.

Bidding will end at midnight EST on Sunday 21 August 2011, and winner notification will be emailed Monday. Please be sure to leave your email when you bid. Your email will be visible only to me.

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!Make a direct donation by visiting SageWoman’s Rebound Donation page.

If you’ve been curious about shamanism or Soul Readings, or if you’ve had one before and would like another, this is a great opportunity for a deeper experience of yourself and to support a wonderful publication.

PTSD and Soul Retrieval

Michele Rosenthal of Heal My PTSD asked me to write a guest blog. PTSD and Soul Retrieval to give a glimpse into how PTSD works at a soul level and how it can be healed.

What Dreams May Come

What Dreams May Come

Intentional Insights is a Q&A column inviting you to look inside yourself. Submit questions regarding a brief Soul Reading, spiritual healing, paranormal experiences, or shamanism, to Kelley at soulintentarts dot com, or to schedule a full-length Soul Reading. Intentional Insights is a production of Soul Intent Arts, LLC, © 2011 All Rights Reserved.
Read more of Kelley’s writing at KelleyHarrell.com and on The Huffington Post. Order a signed copy of Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma.

Writing Your First Line: The Shamanic Induction of Storytelling


I was asked by the curators of Books by Women to write a guest blog. Writing Your First Line: The Shamanic Induction of Storytelling is a brief exposé not only on why I read, but why I choose to be a writer and how these dovetail into my spiritual path.

Intentional Insights is a Q&A column inviting you to look inside yourself. Submit questions regarding a brief Soul Reading, spiritual healing, paranormal experiences, or shamanism, to Kelley at soulintentarts dot com, or to schedule a full-length Soul Reading. Intentional Insights is a production of Soul Intent Arts, LLC, © 2011 All Rights Reserved.
Read more of Kelley’s writing at KelleyHarrell.com and on The Huffington Post. Order a signed copy of Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma.