Tag: Samhain

Samhain Sentiments – Compassionate Work with the Dead

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellFor several years I’ve made effort to talk openly paranormal experiences from the perspective of someone who views them not as Nature’s side shows or intrusive investigation into the spirit world, rather as an honest look into times that the unseen pokes back in startling ways. Ultimately, creepy experiences are still about spiritual imbalance and restoring balance where possible, and where wanted.

It’s that last bit that gets many psychics and intuitives who work with the dead, discarnate souls, and general bump-in-the-nightness into personal trouble. Many contemporary empaths bring to their work a good/evil dichotomy that implies where imbalance is observed, balance/healing must be done. My experience has been more along the lines of open dialogue, which implies listening to the distressed being’s story, as well as compassionate companionship in facilitating them to what they need. That may be total release, to move on to their next destiny. It may be a kind gesture that affirms them in some way. It may be realization that the dynamic is note mine to affect at the time.

Ultimately, my experience has been that healing can’t be forced on beings in the unseen, any more than it can be forced on those of us in the formed realm. That bit of insight, along with a few others came a a few years ago, in a blog post called, Six Things the Dead Want Us to Know About Life.

Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellReal Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World

Available at Amazon.

For years, as we neared Samhain and The Dead Time I’ve shared my true encounters of the supernatural. Experiences from waking to deathwalks in the night to seeing apparitions in the middle of the day, you name it and I’ve brushed up against it, whether I meant to–or not so much.

In Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World I’ve compiled revised editions of all of the stories that appeared on my blog, along with never-before-published updates to those stories, and several recent encounters.

Not your usual bump-in-the-night true paranormal accounts, these trips into the Middle World aren’t always scary. Some are sweet, some are affirming. Regardless, some I’d like to never have again, yet all of them changed me in a way that I never looked at myself or Life the same, after.

As a lifelong intuitive and shaman by choice for two decades, not all of my experiences with the spirit world have had clear-cut direction, instruction, or even results. Every one of them, though, has had meaning. It’s not my way to just dabble in the supernatural for only the sake of stirring the mystical pot. Instead, I approach such as an opportunity to learn about life out of form, and be of some kind of service to spirits in need. Working with the other side of death equips me better this side of life. There are many spiritual books on working with the dead and discarnate, though most of them only extol the wonder and awe of that work. They don’t talk about the toll it takes on their personal lives, or of perils they faced learning to be healthy conduits for spirits. Indeed this work is wonderful and awesome, but it can also be scary, disorienting, and uprooting. I share these accounts of paranormal exploration as part investigation, part curiosity, and part luck of the draw of being a human equally aware of her soul.

Samhain Stories – Saturn’s Gift

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellEvery year on Intentional Insights I share some of my more charged, spooky, Samhain Stories. This year I am releasing a collection of such encounters in Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World, to give further insight into my experiences.

As a lifelong intuitive and neoshaman by choice for over two decades, not all of my experiences with the spirit world have had direction, instruction, or even clarity. Every one of them, though, has meaning. Working with the unseen of the earthly realm is an opportunity to learn about life out of form, and be of some kind of service to spirits in need. Working with the other side of death equips me better this side of life.

This story marks one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had as an intuitive, and certainly one of the saddest times in my life.  It gives a classic yet modern glimpse into what I call the tribeless modern mystic, as only a gift from an ancient God can–Saturn’s Gift.

What unusual encounters have you had?  How have they affected your life? Comment on your experiences and be entered to win a free ebook of Real Wyrd!

Real Wyrd is available in print and ebook editions at:

Samhain Stories – Number One Rule of House Selling

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellEvery year on Intentional Insights I share some of my more charged, spooky, Samhain Stories. This year I am releasing a collection of such encounters in Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World, to give further insight into my experiences.

As a lifelong intuitive and neoshaman by choice for over two decades, not all of my experiences with the spirit world have had direction, instruction, or even clarity. Every one of them, though, has meaning. Working with the unseen of the earthly realm is an opportunity to learn about life out of form, and be of some kind of service to spirits in need. Working with the other side of death equips me better this side of life.

The rule? why, it’s declutter, of course! But who ever thinks to declutter their lingering spirits, emotions, or traumas? Number One Rule of House Selling

What unusual encounters have you had?  How have they affected your life? Comment on your experiences and be entered to win a free ebook of Real Wyrd!

Real Wyrd is available in print and ebook editions at:

Samhain Stories – Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellEvery year on Intentional Insights I share some of my more charged, spooky, Samhain Stories. This year I am releasing a collection of such encounters in Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World, to give further insight into my experiences.

As a lifelong intuitive and neoshaman by choice for over two decades, not all of my experiences with the spirit world have had direction, instruction, or even clarity. Every one of them, though, has meaning. Working with the unseen of the earthly realm is an opportunity to learn about life out of form, and be of some kind of service to spirits in need. Working with the other side of death equips me better this side of life.
In this particular story, I was on a business trip to Kansas City, MO, where I stayed at the lovely, vintage Hotel Phillips.  Despite that I traveled alone, at no point was I left to myself in the room…  Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

What unusual encounters have you had?  How have they affected your life? Comment on your experiences and be entered to win a free ebook of Real Wyrd!

Real Wyrd is available in print and ebook editions at:

Samhain Stories – An Unearthly Warning

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellEvery year on Intentional Insights I share some of my more charged, spooky, Samhain Stories. This year I am releasing a collection of such encounters in Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World, to give further insight into my experiences.

As a lifelong intuitive and neoshaman by choice for over two decades, not all of my experiences with the spirit world have had direction, instruction, or even clarity. Every one of them, though, has meaning. Working with the unseen of the earthly realm is an opportunity to learn about life out of form, and be of some kind of service to spirits in need. Working with the other side of death equips me better this side of life.

Although the incidents in this story only marginally include me, this experience reminded me of the many reasons that spirits visit us, and introduced me to a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced before: An Unearthly Warning

What unusual encounters have you had?  How have they affected your life?  Comment on your experiences and be entered to win a free ebook of Real Wyrd!

Real Wyrd is available in print (this weekend) and ebook editions at:

Real Wyrd, Just in Time for Samhain!

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellFor years, as we neared Samhain and The Dead Time I’ve shared my true encounters of the supernatural. Experiences from waking to deathwalks in the night to seeing apparitions in the middle of the day, you name it and I’ve brushed up against it, whether I meant to–or not so much.

In Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World  I’ve compiled revised editions of all of the stories that appeared on my blog, along with never-before-published updates to those stories, and several recent encounters.

Not your usual bump-in-the-night true paranormal accounts, these trips into the Middle World aren’t always scary. Some are sweet, some are affirming. Regardless, some I’d like to never have again, yet all of them changed me in a way that I never looked at myself or Life the same, after.

As a lifelong intuitive and shaman by choice for two decades, not all of my experiences with the spirit world have had clear-cut direction, instruction, or even results.  Every one of them, though, has had meaning.  It’s not my way to just dabble in the supernatural for only the sake of stirring the mystical pot.  Instead, I approach such as an opportunity to learn about life out of form, and be of some kind of service to spirits in need.  Working with the other side of death equips me better this side of life.

There are many spiritual books on working with the dead and discarnate, though most of them only extol the wonder and awe of that work.  They don’t talk about the toll it takes on their personal lives, or of  perils they faced learning to be healthy conduits for spirits.   Indeed this work is wonderful and awesome, but it can also be scary, disorienting, and uprooting.  I share these accounts of paranormal exploration as part investigation, part curiosity, and part luck of the draw of being a human equally aware of her soul.

Samhain Spectres – An Unearthly Warning

Four years ago in celebration of The Dead Time I began sharing some of my more creepy experiences of the wyrd. Sooner or later most people experience phenomena they can’t explain, or that occurs outside the bounds of their belief system. What it is and what it means is open to interpretation, and most certainly is in the eye of the boo-holder. Bless the darkness, hold the light.

This is the most recent addition to my collection, although the incidents only marginally included me. This experience reminded me of the many reasons that spirits visit us and introduced me to a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced before.

Earlier this year my sister, Ellen, expressed concern that something odd was happening in her home. Hearing these words I perked up as her house often has interesting, but soothing activity from peaceful spirit visitors. The mountains of North Carolina are very active spiritually and etherically, and she resides at the heart of the region. In fact, we’ve even ventured to say that the exact spot of her home is a rejuvenating place for souls in and out of form. That something out of the ordinary distressed her gave me pause.

We didn’t have another opportunity to talk before I went up to her place for a visit. That area is always very “busy,” so on general feel alone, nothing felt off to me. However, as we all wound down for the day and casual conversation came up, something else new happened. My nephew mentioned that something was going on in the house. My sister has often acknowledged visitors, and my niece has on occasion reported interesting events. This was a first for my nephew.

He began by telling me something that he hadn’t even had a chance to tell his mother, which was that one night he’d heard pacing upstairs in the small hall between his room and his sister’s, as well as on the balcony that overlooks the livingroom. He could hear individual footsteps shuffling over the hall carpet and boards supporting the balcony creaking with each step. It went on for quite some time until it eventually stopped. He also indicated hearing a woman’s voice.

At that point my sister chimed in, saying that was the exact spot that she’d heard someone walking, directly above her bed downstairs. She’d been home alone at the time. Though she’d not heard a voice, she felt that the presence was feminine. Fairly comfortable with experiencing such phenomena herself, she was not at all happy to learn that it was affecting her kids. As we discussed what spirits are and how to interact with them, I put feelers out around the house. Again, I got nothing beyond the usual busy stream of life force that I know is typical for her home. Things felt peaceful.

A caveat of this story is that since having twins, I’ve been highly conscientious of sounds that come through the baby monitor. From the first minute that we moved them into their room to sleep alone, I kept an ear tuned to pick up sounds that did not originate from them. Of course, I heard none. Later that same evening at my sister’s, their dad and myself were putting the babies to bed in the third upstairs room. I was highly aware that this was the area where they had heard the pacing woman, but I trusted my perception. Everything felt fine. The room was a bit upended as they were in the midst of redoing it, but it was fine for the babies. We put them down for bed and shut the door behind us.

I went into my nephew’s room to grab the monitor and turned it on. As I walked back down the hall toward the stairs, I got right in front of the room where the babies settled and I heard muttering through the monitor. What instantly struck me as odd was that I could hear the babies chattering through the monitor as well as with my ears, but the muttering only came through the monitor. I froze, and heard nothing. I took a step back, and there it was again. Plain as day, I heard the croaky voice of an old woman muttering. I couldn’t make out what she said, but she was distressed, very upset about something. The other feeling I had was that she had no intention of leaving, that she was protecting something. I attempted to engage her but she did not respond. I listened to her and my children for about a minute, then the voice stopped. With careful steps, holding the monitor out before me I tried to locate the voice again and could not.

I was a little rattled that I’d heard what we had just been discussing moments earlier, and that for the first time I’d experienced Electronic Voice Phenomenon. What really bothered me still was that beyond feeling the spirit woman’s distress, everything about the home and area still felt peaceful. This observation did not mesh with the intensity of her upset, and it definitely was not aligned with her etheric assertion that she was not leaving. Posing a completely new dynamic for me, I was confused.

Returning downstairs I described what I’d heard, and we discussed it further. We all agreed there was nothing malevolent about the visitor, but that she was insistent about being there. It was futile to release her at that point. After laying out their boundaries for visitors in their home—those in form and those not—we spoke them to the house and general area and left it at that. Nothing further happened that weekend.

A few weeks later I got a frantic phone call from Ellen. They were in the process of finishing the third room when they discovered the electrical outlet between that room and the balcony was loose. Upon attempting to tighten it, it fell out of the wall and fire shot out. The outlet hadn’t been wired correctly and had completely burned through, save a tiny connecting filament. The state of the outlet should have caused a fire, and had that outlet been used it definitely would have.

Immediately my sister had begun crying. There had been no further disturbances in the house since my visit, though they had all remained vigilant of the old woman and their etheric boundaries. As soon as Ellen realized what was happening, she knew the woman had been trying to warn them that the outlet was dangerous. She thanked the spirit profusely for attempting to alert them to the danger, and all has been safely quiet since.

6 Things the Dead Want Us to Know About Life

One of the earliest intuitive abilities I recognized in myself was the ability to interact with the dead. As a child I was terrified of them. They woke me from sleep, made noises in my room, touched me, gave me visions. Nothing in my belief system had taught me how to communicate with them well, of the graphic ways in which they can communicate, or even about what death is. As an adolescent I realized not all spirits I saw were products of a completed life in form. Some were spirits of trees, living animals, or beings that have never been in form, though nonetheless influenced the lives of those of us in form. In forty years of communing with the world in this way, several universal messages have been conveyed. The unifying concept in these messages is that what happens in consciousness stays in consciousness, and I distilled them to six general observations:

    • How we live now is the state of the afterlife. While the body ceases to be, the mind and soul carry on. The state of our consciousness in life is the state of our consciousness in death. If we foster worry and anxiety now, that’s our mode of operation after. By focusing on negative or hurtful aspects of life, we stew in them in death, causing consciousness to stagnate. If we are mindful and live in the present in life, in death we continue to broaden consciousness, further opportunity to make choices to support that awareness.
    • There is no magickal place of punishment or reward. This insight garners strong emotional reactions from many people. Most of our world religions are built on the idea that regardless of the plight of our lives, we are destined by our actions to spend everafter in torment or joy. Again, what the dead indicate is that what comes after is based on our perspective in life. How one behaves in life is what one experiences after life.
Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley Harrell

Read more spooky stories in “Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World,” my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.

  • Everything lives on. In some guise, form, or unform, the essence of every thing remains and becomes some other manifestation of itself and All Things.
  • Spirits aren’t wise or moral just because they are out of form. Our culture perpetuates a myth that upon death souls become penitent and/or enlightened. In my experience, wise deceased were so in life. Souls that were confused, frustrated, angry, etc, are so in death.
  • What we don’t heal in life stays with us in death. Thoughts, habits, or beliefs that don’t support us or undermine us, such as lying, using others to further ourselves, or denying our true natures do not magickally vanish when we leave form. For this reason, when we seek to release harmful dynamics from our lives, we are also assuring peace in death. We assure ongoing tranquility.
  • Working with trance states affects knowledge of how to die. By accessing the imagination via ecstatic trance, dreamwork, or other method of altered consciousness, we experience life without the ego. In this pure space and consciousness, we catch glimpses of what it feels like to be out of form, to be our undaunted wild selves.  The more we connect with our true nature our quality of life improves.  The better we live, the more comfortable we are with the truth of mortality.

While my experiences with the spirits now are more balanced than those of my childhood, the prevailing message is that spirits do affect our lives. By living well we die peacefully, which means that we have no need to disrupt the living. By living well, everyone’s experience of consciousness is improved.

If you love reading true stories of the wyrd, every year for the Samhain season I share several in my column, Intentional Insights.  Check the archive there under the ‘Samhain’ and ‘paranormal’ tags.  If you want to learn more about shamanism and deathwalking, visit Soul Intent Arts.

Samhain — Nature’s Holy Day for Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder

ForestIn the Northern Hemisphere, neopagans celebrate Samhain as the last harvest, the point at which the day has shortened and winter is setting in. Some modern pagans consider it the “witch’s new year,” though in other traditions, Samhain marked only the end of the year. The beginning of the year, the “new year,” came with the promise of light’s return at Yule, several weeks later. The span between the two stellar points was considered untime — a sacred experience outside our usual observation of time and space. Thus, an understanding of cyclic “Dead Time,” or “Dark Time,” entered our consciousness.

Seen as an auspiciously magickal time due to its precise occurrence between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice, Samhain was associated with the point between life and death. It was an occasion for bonfires, the alchemical recipients of fetishes representing requests for healing, needs to be addressed. There was dancing and expressions of gratitude for the harvest, food set aside for the ancestors and protective spirits. From this “thinning of the veil” sprang rituals honoring the dead, as well as acknowledging the need for light.

Despite celebration, it isn’t difficult to imagine that our ancestors despaired at the sun’s retreat. Even after a bountiful harvest, winters were hard. Without the comforts that keep us warm, fed, and well, back then people and livestock didn’t survive the elements. The psychological ramifications of fearing what must have been perceived as the planet forsaken are not to be underestimated. More than a mere lull between seasons, Samhain represented a snuffing of inner light. For this reason, the necessity of impeccably understanding the experience of consciousness between spirit and form was called for. How else would one mentally sustain a long, dark winter that bore no assurance of survival?

In our modern lives we don’t generally explore our capability of handling diminishing inner reserves unless or until we are pushed by circumstance to do so. We do, however, understand the shadowy presence of seasonal affective conditions that plague so many in the winter months. I’ve often wondered if we still honored Samhain as the natural time of purging of fear and uncertainty, if we would handle challenging times during the rest of the year better. If we wildly danced around fires facing our deepest insecurities, fears and hungers, knowing that nature would assure us exactly the courage, inspiration and hopes that feed us most, would we still find ourselves in shadow? Would we have as many fetishes to throw on the bonfire? Would we carry as much stress from one harvest to the next? Could we put our demons down?

I know it’s still several weeks away, but the last harvest is upon us, which means a chance to explore our own darkness and reserves is coming, too. Take some time now to think about the accomplishments of this year. What needs to be let go and thrown on a magickally purifying fire? What seeds should be carried forward to plant next year? What inner wisdom sustains us to know the difference?

I invite you to learn more about Samhain, nature’s holy days, and the role they play in cleansing and supporting a healthy human psyche in Barbara Ardinger’s “Pagan Every Day: Finding the Extraordinary in Our Ordinary Lives,” and Donna Henes’ “Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles, & Celebrations.”