Tag: S. Kelley Harrell

Knowing When It’s Time for a New Cosmology

Kelley, I’m at a crossroads. Do I leave my role as a nun and go back to laylife, or stay in the robes going it alone, or continue to stay in this monastery? Thanks, Isabella.

Midsummer's Eve by Edward Robert Hughes

Midsummer's Eve by Edward Robert Hughes

Thanks for your note, Isabella. The overarching impression that I have is you are craving an experience of the Divine that is not above you, but includes you. This need feels like a departure from the cosmology that is presented in your current dwelling, a shift that has contributed to your unrest in that space. I applaud you for realizing that you need a change, and that you are willing to do what you need to feel balanced in yourself. You are very connected into All Things and are at peace with that spiritual bond. You want more expression of it and a way to experience it that puts you in new spaces, new energy, new movement. “Movement” is the keyword. Your life force is very healthy and thriving, but it’s very close to your body. This state is neither good nor bad. When we need to be insular, we hold our life force close. When we need to connect and share, we expand it outward. Where you have been living has required you to keep your life force close as a means of connecting with the Divine. You have mastered relating to the Divine in this way. You are ready to extend your life force into new experiences and spaces, and to find Divinity in new ways. For you to meet this need you must gradually extend your life force out, as well as physically relocate.

My overall feeling is that you have gone as far as you can in personal and spiritual development at this monastery. Staying there past this point will dull the gifts you bring it. Whether you remain in robes or completely step away from the identity you have created as a nun is your choice. Your thirst for knowledge and connecting with the Divine in everything is leading you into the world in a new way, and tells me that you will never be a layman at anything you do.

Be well, Isabella.

The New Treatise on Soul Retrieval

“It has always been the role of the shaman to go into an altered state of consciousness and track down where the soul fled to in the alternate realities and return it to the body of the client.” ~Sandra Ingerman
Photo by Julie Soulen @flickr“Beside himself. Why do we describe a distraught person as being ‘beside himself’? Because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened a person was ‘beside himself.’ This same thought is to be found in ‘out of his mind’; and in ‘ecstasy’ too. ‘Ecstasy’ is from the Greek and literally means ‘to stand out of.'” From “Dictionary of Word Origins” by Jordan Almond (Carol Publishing Group, Secaucus, N.J., 1998)

It is true that the concepts of soul loss and soul retrieval are not new. An aspect of the infinite soul fleeing under duress is a state everyone has at some point experienced, regardless of terminology or ideology applied. In the realm of shamanic work it has been considered the apex ritual in restoring the soul, life force, or what we call personal power. There are many ways to do a soul retrieval, but it breaks down into locating the missing soul part, returning it to the earthly consciousness, and integrating that returned awareness into daily life.

When I began working with others 13 years ago, the phrase “soul retrieval” wasn’t widely known. The concept of “shamanism,” itself, conjured images of a shrouded dark figure in the woods wearing bones and chanting unintelligibly. For me to reveal that I saw myself as a modern shaman who worked with others in that capacity was a curious thing. The majority of people had some understanding of what soul work meant, however accurate, but few knew about soul retrieval. In that climate, when someone came to me and said, “I think I need a soul retrieval,” I paid close attention. Nine times out of ten they were exactly correct. It was a very safe assumption that if someone could articulate such an obscure and refined insight, there was an equally compelling need.

I find now that with a greater acceptance and understanding of holistic and energy medicine, there is an awareness of the need for spiritual healing. Many people still have a very fixed if not archaic image of shamans, though they have a better understanding of what they do. By default more people know what soul retrieval is and often readily request it. I do still pay very close attention to what drives a person to specifically express the need for soul retrieval, though I hold it more lightly than I used to.

What I’ve seen happening with this influx of desire for spiritual healing is that people have come to assimilate “soul retrieval” as the big quick fix. They have heard that it’s the quintessential shamanic mojo of healing spiritual wounds, but what they don’t realize is the range of behavioral, psychological, emotional, and often physical shifting that must occur for that healed balance of life force to stay connected with the earthly consciousness and promote wellbeing. Most people still don’t understand that spiritual healing is not instead of other modalities of healing. Rather, spiritual healing requires and inspires healing on all levels. If the other layers of the self aren’t addressed, no spiritual healing approach can bring lasting results. In the absence of needed soul aspects we develop coping mechanisms, crutches to deal with feeling a lack of power. These coping devices are just like any other–they don’t magickally go away. We still have to address them along with soul retrieval and integration.

Harry Potter and the Elder Futhark

The Story of the Boy Who Lived Told Through Runes

The Harry Potter story presents a strong, modern archetypal connection to Jung’s hero’s journey. As my studies of the Runes clarified–the obscure, ancient Norse symbols Odin brought back from his time on the World Tree–I began making connections between the progression of their story and characters of the Potterverse, not just between personality traits and the meaning of the Runes, but in how the characters represented stages of Harry’s hero’s journey through the progression of the Runic aetts. My study of the Elder Futhark has been eclectic, though I approach them from the old Icelandic and Norse runic poems as interpreted by Kate MacDowell. I thought to intuitively draw Runes and see what came, as is common when using them for divination. I’m so moved by the series and have a smooth enough rapport with the Runes that I trusted myself to assign them.

The preliminaries to address include: there be spoilers here. If you don’t know what happens to Harry and his series or don’t want to, stop reading now. That’s your only warning. Rabid Potter ficcers beware–archetypes abhor chronology. Just go with it. As well, this is all subjective, so all of you Runic academics put down your Hávamál and just read. This is my modern take on an ancient story.

The Runes are divided into three aetts, or developmental groups, which signify the overall advancement of the journey. The first grouping is Frey’s aett, which explores how the hero comes into form and sustains. We begin the story with Fehu, or wealth that transfers and must be tended in some way. It asks us to think of generosity for what we have been given by our ancestors and in what we will pass on. Sirius is the closest thing to a living ancestor for Harry. Best friend to Harry’s parents, Sirius literally is the most valuable figure to Harry. He cares for Harry affectionately, though in passing on material means for Harry to continue caring for himself, Sirius bequeaths a sense of earthly belonging Harry had not known before. Hence, through Sirius leaving his home to Harry as the hidden base for the Order of the Phoenix, from which Harry could take action in the formed realm.



Uruz is the primal nature unmarred by domestication or socialization. The wildest figure in the Potterverse is without question Voldemort. In fact, when we first learn of him he is not capable of forming in the world just yet. His threat, however ethereal, is evident, as becomes his influence to inspire Harry to explore his own depths of wildness.

With Thurisaz comes the thoughtform, awareness of one’s self and what one could become. Young Tom Riddle foreshadows the potential of an unshaped psyche. As he rises to be the most powerful dark wizard in the world, the boundaries he pushes to succeed come to mirror possibilities for Harry’s fate, as well.

Molly Weasley embodies Ansuz, the Rune of taking form. Ansuz reminds us ongoing that we are never separate from what we create, so we must create with care. Molly demonstrated this trait best in ardent tending of her loved ones, her foremost priority. She walked it like she talked it, displaying a devotion to core priorities otherwise lacking in Harry’s personal life.

Where Ansuz is the very personal internal process of choosing what we give attention to, Raidho is the process of culling out what of ourselves we share with the world. No character blatantly displays firmness in telling her story precisely the way she wants others to hear it better than Dolores Umbridge. Despite her misguidedness, her rationale is impeccable. She is an excellent foil for Harry to discern what of his story needs to be heard by others.

Kenaz is the light in shadow. As we begin to share our story we can come to believe our words over reality; thus, having someone or something interject a bit of perspective puts us back on track. For Harry this is an internal process guided by his projections of his mother, Lily. He doesn’t remember her, but the sacrifice she made for him compels him to hold perspective and stay the course.

Gebo is the acquired ally. Along our paths we gain the gift of friends who help us move along. Dobby is the only ally to Harry who has no personal gain in mind, and who ever-expresses gratitude for Harry’s friendship. Subtle and small, Dobby’s gratefulness for their friendship gains Harry significant advantages over Voldemort.

Another important ally is Luna Lovegood, a brilliant embodiment of Wunjo–absolute joy and delight. Luna remains Harry’s best teacher of playfulness and detachment. Though he doesn’t understand her, her lightness always eases him. The glimpses of joy Harry sees in Luna’s fresh way to see the world also moves him forward.

With the completion of what it takes for Harry to sustain, we move into the second aett–Hagal’s Aett. With Hagalaz we begin to distinguish the personal journey from the collective. For this Rune we have Harry, a young boy entrenched between two worlds–literally–and upon whom the fate of the entire Wizarding World rests. As he takes on the mantle of being a wizard, so does he face the fact that an inevitable confrontation is coming.

Nauthiz confronts Harry quickly in Draco. In his nemesis Harry can be exonerated as a half-blood, thus subvert his calling and growth to self-hood, or he can assert his individuality and compassion. Harry’s choice to be authentic leaves Draco wrestling with constraint that eventually calls him to similar action.

Draco exaggerated is his father, Lucius, an icy man dominated by the power of wealth. Swayed by the glittering qualities of Isa, Lucius’ reality and vitality are challenged because Harry will not comply with the Death Eaters. Left impotent, Lucius’ plight foretells the magnitude of Harry’s imminent confrontation.

Jera is Nymphadora Tonks, the pinnacle artist as creator and prophet. Her ability to morph her form as she wishes is Harry’s earliest hint that we create ourselves as we want to be. Thus, culling through the experience shaping him into a young man, Harry creates his own destiny.

My greatest point of consternation in the series is and has always been that the strongest female character is also the most vile–Bellatrix Lestrange. In Eihwaz is the embodiment of the yew tree, sweet and poison, strong and unwavering, as is Bella. Through every desperate and deliberate act to destroy Harry, Bella is true to herself, a true match for Harry’s own resolve.

Luckily, he has Ron as his personal Perthro. Ever the comic relief and soothsayer of the obvious, Ron’s goofy nature bring calamity as easily as clarity. Ron is the force of randomness that keeps Harry grounded in possibility.

In Algiz is the shapeshifter Remus Lupin. No, that’s not why it reminds me of him, though it fits well. Rather, it’s Lupin’s conviction to protect Harry at all costs, his sense of standing firm on his boundaries, and if necessary to use the boundary as a weapon. He is Harry’s greatest teacher of self-truth, even in lessons Harry doesn’t want to learn.

Minerva McGonagall is Sowilo. Sowilo is the sun shining the light of the Divine on us, so that we may light our lives. McGonagall is the refined, hidden force of strength that encourages Harry, particularly when he doesn’t realize it.

With the final and third aett, Tyr’s aett, we embark on a new order. After completing our journey from the gods to formed possibility, we are now called to reflect back on the Divine. Neville Longbottom is Tiwaz. Neville’s voice sounds the battlecry awakening the second wind in the Hogwart’s students. As Harry wages his battle his way, Neville raises new forces and revitalizes the troops to stay the mission. Without Neville energy and change of course Harry can’t succeed.

Berkano’s trickster, mysterious nature is best represented in the Weasley twins. Chaotic and ever pushing the envelope, they are Harry’s cheerleaders. They blur his lines in a provocative way, keeping him engaged and forward-thinking.

The burden of Ehwaz falls to Albus Dumbledore. Whether he carried it admirably is debatable, though in his role as mentor to Harry Dumbledore is always reliable. He devotes to Harry every spare ounce of energy, and regardless of how Harry’s trust in Dumbledore wavers, Dumbledore’s trust in Harry remains impeccably solid.

Mannaz can only be lovely Hedwig. Harry’s owl familiar is his messenger to the magickal world when he is hostage in the muggle one. Her role as messenger, thus her life and death, signifies how Harry’s stamina and awareness diversifies to survive, if not thrive, in both worlds.

Laguz is Ginny, the water element that is both destructive and capable of taking care of itself. Fierce and independent, she is Harry’s picture of home and life renewed. As he adores her; thus, gives her power. Emotionally she could slay him. Yet she is his touchstone for returning to something known, supportive, reliable.

Hermione is Ingaz, the feminine principle of protection. In many subtly powerful ways Hermione is Harry’s strongest female complement. And no, I’m not an H/H shipper. Often she is the feminine voice of reason when Harry otherwise lacks that balancing influence. Hermione provides Divine Balance for Harry.

Dagaz, the progression of a day, of darkness to light, is revealed in the mystery of Severus Snape. In the end Snape’s wisdom, thus darkness, is Harry’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Finally, we close with Othala, enlightened and capable, ready to transmit the journey’s teaching to the new hero. As Hagrid greeted and led Harry to the Wizarding World, so Harry preserves the Wizarding World to be passed on to all.

With the close of Harry’s story, conflict is resolved and a new order is restored to the Wizarding World, to his personal life. His journey ends. As with the story of the Runes, the fullness of a life manifest is poised to return to the Divine ancestors and begin again.

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.

You Don’t Call, You Don’t Write… The Quiet Dead

As psychopomp is a critical role of my personal and professional shamanic path, I’m often approached by those who want me to communicate with deceased loved ones. In some cases a different scenario arises and I’m asked, “Why doesn’t my deceased loved one visit me?”

My immediate response is, “How do know your loved one doesn’t?” There is an assumption that because we are emotionally close to a deceased loved one that we are open to and will recognize a visit from that dear soul. It’s an understandable assumption, as our culture generally sensationalizes and romanticizes interactions with the deceased. In reality, it is often because we are so emotionally involved with the deceased that we don’t or can’t perceive their presence. Sometimes when loved ones are still actively grieving loss, they are too distracted to observe spiritual activity. In their haze, they miss subtle messages that a trained intuitive would intercept, or they are holding out for a grand entrance when a gentle presence is right in front of them. Consequently, sometimes when the deceased sense that their loved ones are not moving on, they do not visit them on purpose. The inability of living or deceased loved ones to accept death causes all involved to stagnate. Often the dead realize that their presence may only encourage the living loved one’s grief instead of soothe it.

Emotional involvement isn’t the only impediment to visitation from beyond the grave. Whether due to fear of the paranormal or the exclusion of such a possibility due to religious path or life view, these can be long-held beliefs that prevent spirit interaction. Often people haven’t really considered the possibility of interacting with a spirit until someone they love dies. Again, in that dynamic lies an assumption that the emotional bond will in and of itself reveal an active connection beyond the veil, and in this case trump institutionalized beliefs. I know it is entirely possible for someone who does not believe in spirits to have a spontaneous change of heart. However, in these cases there is still more than an emotional bond at work. Our consciousness is organized into beliefs and personal truths so that we can make sense of data coming in. At any point that we choose, we can change our beliefs, thus change the organization of our consciousness. In the case of those who prior eschewed spiritual possibilities let alone contact, it’s not likely that their beliefs will spontaneously reorganize to suddenly allow the perception of a visitation from a deceased loved one. If you fear spirits or have rigid beliefs that oppose paranormal life, the likelihood of experiencing such after the death of a loved one is slim. It is possible, though not probable. Naysayers who do experience unexpected spiritual interaction have generally gone through a rampant restructuring of their beliefs.

Another reason that the dead don’t visit is simply because they have no need to. They’re happy. They’re peaceful and they have genuinely grown beyond the concerns of the formed realm. It doesn’t mean they don’t love us or have abandoned us. It doesn’t mean you will never see them again. In fact, most of us repeat experiences of ourselves with the same groups of souls. It just means they’ve moved on to the next point of their destiny.

So what’s the magickal combination? Why do other people have full-on conversations with your deceased loved ones when you don’t seem able to? Remember that people who work with spirits likely demonstrated some innate ability to do so early on in life and/or had a life-changing experience that opened them to their ability, and have dedicated their lives to the skills and boundaries of that work. It’s not random or trivial. They devoted themselves to learning to read the signals and communication of spirits in subtle and profound ways. Moreover, they do so without an emotional charge. They are not emotionally involved with their work, and that enables them to stretch the limits of their ability. To people who interact with spirits doing so no different than interacting with the living. Venturing into the realm of the dead is as common place as walking into a crowded restaurant. In short, it’s not a big deal to them. They will it so, and so it is. Through that accomplishment, it’s always a miracle.

The thing is, there isn’t anything special about people who experience spirits and those who don’t. The only difference between those who do and those who don’t is willingness and the taming of cultural domestication to see life in a fuller, less prescribed way. If you are curious about how to interact with spirits, connect with a trusted professional who can mentor you in doing so. If you’re not but still want to interact with deceased loved ones, find someone who can do so and know that your bond is as intact as ever across the veil and it’s a blessing to have such. Moreover, find etheric ways to deepen your relationship to your loved ones now, and the opening for that greater interaction will always be there.

The Journey of Healing, featuring Kelley’s poem ‘diligent suns’

Edited by Marjorie Ryerson

The Journey of Healing is a first-of-its kind literary anthology showcasing the work of sexual abuse survivors. Submissions for the book came from many continents, from divergent cultures and ages, and from both men and women. The final selections of poems, essays and stories chosen for the book include fiction as well as autobiographical pieces. These resonant writings articulate both the pain and the hope that come from the process of enduring and surviving abuse. The anthology also features black and white photographs by one of the contributors. The voices in this book are unique, strong, aware, and wise. The contributors are a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit and to the power of the written word.
The Journey of Healing, featuring Kelley’s poem ‘diligent suns’