Tag: shamanism

Faeries in the Garden

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.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

I’m not a skeptic by any stretch, but I am an experiential junkie. I need some level of personal exchange with something before I can fully give myself over to its reality, even if that exchange happens in the ether. I’ve realized that there can be a wide berth between knowing something is entirely possible and experiencing it to be so. I’ve also learned that when experiencing something energetically overlaps witnessing it physically such an opportunity is a gift.

Several years ago I was attending a weekend class at a retreat in the mountains of North Carolina when I saw faeries. The location, itself, is somewhat of an anomaly in that it sits at the convergence of several ley lines. I personally believe it sits between diverging strata of time and dimension based on other intriguing experiences I’ve had there, but perhaps that’s more of a personal gnosis. The caretaker of the retreat has a very close relationship with the faeries of the land. I’d visited the retreat several times and heard stories from the horse’s mouth of the fae striking a deal with the caretaker, in that if she would tend their portal on her land they would commune with humans—by invitation only—between Mother’s Day and Summer Solstice each year. She told us how she’d made conversation with them learning what their job was in this realm and how they did it. They told her that their purpose was to collect dew to protect the sacred seed within blossoming floral life, which apparently they take very seriously. They let her know that they enjoy colorful, shiny trinkets. In an attempt to better understand their work and forge unity with them she complimented them on the plants and overall landscape. They replied, “That’s gnomes. We only do flowers.”

The night I met them was the evening after Summer Solstice of 2002. It was the close of the faeries’ interactive season, as well as the pinnacle of what had been months of dreadful drought. The caretaker told us that the fae had not been very active at all through the summer, as they had been struggling to maintain the flowers.

In agreement with the caretaker of the garden that worked for lawn care in Utah, our class met in the faeries’ garden around 9:30 that evening. There were only a few of us, maybe ten to twelve, and we were told that upon entering the garden people often feel the sensation of a cool droplet on their forehead, or have ringing in their ears. I felt nothing of the sort. I remember crossing the threshold of the garden and instantly feeling as though I wasn’t supposed to be there, as if my presence was an interference. I had the distinct impression that the tension I felt was an indication that the presence of humans, at least at that taxing time in their season, was pulling the faeries’ energy in the wrong direction. I had the sense that we shouldn’t focus so much on them appearing to us and we should just let them tend their jobs.

Midsummer's Eve by Edward Robert Hughes

Midsummer’s Eve by Edward Robert Hughes

I remember sitting in the talking box, the bench the caretaker usually sat on when she conversed with the fae, waiting for something to happen. Group members wandered peacefully about in the lovely open space. I had meandered to a level area toward the front of the garden that overlooked a flowering planting bed at the base of the mountain that rose just behind it. To one end of that bed stood an old chimney, the portal, of which the caretaker said the fae called “the tower” that allowed them to pass from their world to ours. I had reached a point of blissful meditation on the mountain and wasn’t even thinking of faeries when one of the women who worked at the retreat grabbed my arm and exclaimed, “There she is!” I all but jumped out of my skin, jolted from my peaceful state, but when I looked in the direction the lady was pointing sure enough there was a brilliant blue spark wafting through the dark night. It glided down the mountain and came to exactly where the lady had dragged me. Mere inches from my body, the light circled my midsection. I felt very much like it was regarding me as much as I was observing it. The blue spark drifted amongst us, weaving between all of our bodies, squeezing between tree limbs, rising above our heads and sweeping past our feet.

The whole time I had this chatter in my head, ticking off the things the flying light could be. I wasn’t intentionally trying to disprove what was right in front of me; rather, it was more like a reflex of my mind reinforcing that it was right in front of me and I had no context to suit it. The spark was bigger than a fire fly and it stayed lit for long intervals. Even when the spark would dim a halo of blue stayed lit several inches out around it. Each of us stood in awe, even the retreat worker, watching the blue light greet us.

About the time that I gave over to the idea that I had no idea what I was witnessing something even more strange happened. A few smaller golden sparks lighted amongst us, but the slightly larger blue one flashed into a big orb. It literally exploded into a blue ball of light as big as my hand, the bright spark at its center growing stronger with luminous force. The spark in the center continued to float out amongst us, dimming and lighting while the glowing ball around it remained consistently lit.
I know what I saw visually and it fits into no other phenomena I can source. Etherically I observed a profoundly peaceful strata of Earth’s experience of itself that required nothing of me but to honor it. There aren’t many better ways to spend a weekend.

A Sprite and a Bullseye

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.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

One afternoon I went to return an item at a popular local retail store. Frankly I was in a really bad mood, annoyed that I was having to make the return as it was, but doubly perturbed as it was the end of my work day and the line was very long and not budging. I was extremely self-absorbed, my inner talk mostly consisting of complaints and expletives. I was oblivious to my surroundings, save the woman who was right in front of me. I couldn’t tell much about her, only that she hunched over the push bar of her shopping cart, a foot propped on its lower rung. I thought there was a little person in the cart as the woman was murmuring softly, and every few minutes a matchbox car would fly out of the general area of the cart. The woman would go retrieve the toy, and resume her slumped position. For whatever reason, I did not perceive there being anyone in the cart.

The process of retrieving the toy repeated a couple more times, but all I registered was how the line had not moved, I was tired, my feet hurt and I just wanted to go home. I could not have been more wrapped up in myself or my annoyance. We stood there a few more minutes, when I heard a little voice say, “Kelley…”

I froze. Understand I hear my name called out all the time clairaudiently. I registered immediately that this time it was not a spirit voice I’d picked up on my own frequency, but that there was very much an external speaker. Looking around me I saw no one I knew, certainly no one who would know my name. Then I felt this weird ripple through my energy and I leaned out to peer around the woman leaning on the cart. Indeed there was someone there. Peeking around the woman was one of the most beautiful little boys I’ve ever seen. He was maybe two years old and was looking right at me when he said with bubbling fae-like enthusiasm, “Kelley! Hi!” His smile was bright and huge, as was the light all around him. He truly was hard to look directly at for the glare of the brilliant glow around him. This kid was on a different channel, spiritually speaking, and I felt that about him immediately. The woman, who I presume was his mother, turned to me red-faced and speaking something I didn’t understand, clearly shushing the giggling child. What I heard her life force say loud and clear was that this was not the first time he has done this, and it embarrassed, if not frightened her. She hurriedly shushed him, but I could tell the little boy was mischievously aware of what he’d done and he wouldn’t be silenced.

I don’t know why, but my eyes started watering, and I said “Hi” back with a little wave. He giggled more and his mother nodded but did not make eye contact with me. She approached the counter as the line had finally moved. I stood shocked. I was completely gobsmacked, and keenly aware of my surroundings, though no one else in the line seemed to have registered a thing. Why would they? Planes of being had not shifted and opened up to them affirming that the link with All That Is is always at work, slicing incisively through foul moods in return lines. I found myself having an internal conversation with this little boy over the next few minutes, thanking him for letting me know he was there, that he cared enough about my mood to risk speaking to me in a very special way, and for showing me something very special about himself. I thanked Spirit for letting me know that not only are there more of us out there, all ages and varieties, but that we are living on multiple planes and have a very different experience, without shame or hesitation, even in Target.

House on Summit Drive

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.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

At this point I hope it’s obvious that words like “ghost” and “haunted” don’t come up in my vocabulary. I’ve learned that those words conjure charged reactions in people, implying fixed ideas about spirit activity. My unusual education in soulful arts has taught me that spirits deserve to be put in categories as much as people, and every case of otherwise unexplained activity should be examined unto itself. It’s become very hard for me to call a suffering spirit, a mischievous faerie, a hyper-polarized piece of land, or the projections of a deeply troubled consciousness a “ghost.”

Of course I didn’t always make those distinctions. When I look back to my childhood, I recall having interactions with spirits pre- kindergarten. At that age and until my mid-teens, neither my culture, my upbringing, nor my emotional maturity allowed me to view those experiences as anything other than the traditional model we are given for ghosts. I filtered all those interactions through lenses of fear, trauma, alienation, and victimization. In recounting those experiences now it is my goal to present them as they were to me then: scary.

I lived with my mother, my older sister, and two collies for most of my youth, and we all witnessed some pretty creepy events together. The most recurrent of these events usually happened at night, and that was the sound of a man’s heavily booted feet coming down our hardwood hallway, stopping right at the juncture of our three rooms. We never had trepidation about the presence itself, but the shock of hearing those thudding footsteps never abated. Another frequent collective event involved our clock radios. Each of us had a clock radio in our room, and it was a regular pastime for all three of them to go off at the same exact second in the middle of the night. No other electrical appliances or timepieces in the house were affected, but playing with clock radio alarms was popular with our visitor. Again, no real terror involved, but the element of surprise never lost its edge. Another odd occurrence that while not as frequent but was loads more frightening, we would wake to what sounded like all the silverware being shaken inside the kitchen drawers, only to find not a thing out of place upon examination. Along that line, we were awakened on at least one occasion by what sounded like every window in the front of the house being smashed out, though found nothing harmed. Those very exaggerated events were just flat out unnerving. On rarer occasions we heard the piano play by itself while it was closed, just a few tinkling notes. (I have that same piano still and on occasion it plays itself, closed.) What seemed to be a favorite prank to play on me, in particular, was opening the kitchen cabinets. I could walk out of the kitchen and return later, knowing there was no one else in the house, and the cabinets would be wide open. It’s also relevant to add that the two dogs we had were always on guard when these things would happen. One of them reacted defensively to our bumps in the night, while the other cowered and couldn’t be coaxed into areas where something odd had recently happened.

My sister and I each had some harrowing experiences alone in that house, too. One morning when my sister was 12-13 years old she was waiting on our front porch for the school bus to come. Everyone else had already left. She was sitting on the front step when she heard a rap on the window behind her. She knew that she was the last one to leave the house, having locked the door herself, and she became afraid. Looking back over her shoulder she saw nothing in the window but the curtains fell back into place, as if there had been someone there.

Just after my sister was newly licensed to drive she had come home to an empty house late one evening. She entered through the dark kitchen and was standing near the sink when she heard slow, heavy footsteps coming from the far end of the hall toward her. Pulling a knife from a nearby drawer she stood frozen and the footsteps stopped. There was no one else in the house.

In my younger years it was the custom for my mother to put to put the little sister to bed so that she and my sister could enjoy the close of the day together. Though I was getting drowsy, I still heard their chit chat, teaspoons clinking in mugs of tea. I remember lying on my back on the bottom bunk of my captain’s corner beds staring fixedly at ceiling, tuning out all but what they were saying. After all, what kind of little sister was I if I missed anything? I lay on my back staring at the ceiling, trying for all I was worth to hear what they were talking about. I recall my vision cutting out for a split second, though I could still hear them, then I felt myself lifted three or four feet off the bed. I felt arms scoop me up, constricting my ribs so much they hurt. I was suspended for a few seconds, then the next thing I knew I was flipped completely over and flung rather unceremoniously face down on my bed. I hit the bed so hard it moved on the hardwood floor and I smashed my forehead into the headboard. I started screaming immediately, “That wasn’t funny! You scared the crap out of me!”

Of course they both came running, and my mother frantically switched on the light. I babbled on about what had happened, blaming them, and my mother assured me that neither she nor my sister left the kitchen, let alone come to my room. I listened to my mother talk, but I remember looking around the lit room reasoning that I had been lifted to a height higher than my top bunk. I also recall leveling with myself that neither she nor my sister could have picked me up, let alone thrown my body any distance. The bruise on my forehead the next morning indicated that someone could, and apparently had, as I also had faint red marks on my ribs. This was the only time I recall ever feeling physically threatened by the dynamic in our home, and that fear stayed with me for a long time.
I used to have slumber parties almost every year for my birthday. I recall the year I turned ten having several girls over. We’d had an evening of pizza, cake and silly television, then retired to my bedroom to listen to music. My mother had long since gone to bed, yelling at us every few minutes to turn the radio down. We were all sitting on the floor of my room, jamming, when we heard heavy footsteps pound down the hallway, stopping right outside my bedroom door. All of my friends knew that odd things happened at our house, but the house spirit rarely acted up when we had guests. We sat there listening to a light scuffle just on the other side of the door as my mother yelled at us for running down the hall. I don’t think my mother enjoyed having a bunch of screaming little girls to soothe, but it did make for a memorable party.

When I was about fourteen I went through a particularly difficult time. I recall one evening that I had an altercation with my mother and was very upset. I went to bed and cried for a quite a while when I felt someone sit down on the bed behind me. I was lying in foetal position and felt the mattress dip. I shifted subtly back against the form that pressed into mine. A cool hand swept back the hair that stuck to my damp cheek. I lay there for a minute or two considering that I was still angry at my mother, yet feeling I should address her given the concern her gestures showed. Raising up, I started speaking to her and turned to look back, only there was no one there. For a few seconds the cool touch lingered on my cheek and I could still see the dip in the mattress. Gradually the mattress raised back to an uncompressed state. and I knew my comforting visitor was gone.

Another night when I was about 16, I woke up for no particular reason to find a man and woman standing on my right, a woman at the foot of my bed, and two figures to my left. They were all dressed in black, and they stood slightly above me looking down to where I lay. The man was holding an open book in his hands, and was reading from it. I could see his mouth moving though I heard no sound. Their style of dressed was turn of the 20th century. I had the distinct impression I was crashing a funeral, and I had the vantage point of the corpse. The odd thing is when I jumped at seeing them, they stopped their ritual, gave me a shocked look, then vanished.

I don’t think about the events on Summit Drive terribly much, now, odd as that may seem. I register with detachment that they were frightening, yet they were also somewhat routine for us. I’ve also lived in a lot of different places and know now that every space has its unique spirits, imprints, and phenomena. I do wonder, though, if the current owners of the house where I grew up have the same spirit guests.

An Afternoon with Max

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.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

A phenomena well-known to the mystical community made widely popular by the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that of ancient skulls honed from precious and semi-precious gemstones. Found scattered throughout Central America and Mexico, a particular set of thirteen crystal skulls thought to be the ancient relics of tribal mystics have been interpreted many ways. Some say they are connected to the Mayans and will serve a purpose in cosmic unity at the end of the Long Count in 2012. Some say they are metaphors for holographic consciousness, devices for divination and higher awareness. Others say that they were hand delivered from space beings for some collective purpose yet undetermined. The conjecture is endless. What is known is that these gems are between 5,000 and 36,000 years old, most are carved from a single crystal block (a feat modern technology has yet to reproduce), they are priceless, and my partner and I did a session with one in 2003.

I had read about the crystal skulls a few years earlier in The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls: Unlocking the Secrets of the Past, Present, and Future,by Chris Morton and Ceri Louise Thomas, a book that I selected out of mere curiosity and interest in crystals.

Max, the Crystal Skull

Max, the Crystal Skull

“Max, the Crystal Skull,” as it is known, is in the possession of JoAnn Parks of Texas, and is from time-to-time made available for private readings and sessions. When I learned that Max would be visiting the Triangle Area I leapt at the opportunity to do a private session.

In private home Max was displayed rather dramatically on a lighted pedestal; however, we were left alone to work with it for an hour. We sat before the skull on chairs that had been dutifully placed for its audience, staring intently at the vacant, sightless sockets. Seconds after sitting I developed an intense migraine. I touched Max and my palms warmed, tingling lightly after I withdrew them. I focused on relaxing and altered my breath pattern. I called in my guides and any aspects of Max that would want to communicate then slid into a light trance. Sitting with my paper and pen ready, I began to hear a male voice. It told me to sit with both feet flat on the floor and to press my palms together in prayer position. When I did, for the first time since I’d been in a car crash two years prior I felt no pain or discomfort in my body. The migraine dissipated.

I sat in trance a few more minutes enjoying the comfort of my body when a creature stood up out of the skull. It appeared as a naked aboriginal man whose body was completely covered in a white powdery substance that had hints of silver and dark blue mixed in. Small leaves the size of an ivy leaf grew from his flesh, and they, too, were powdery white. He danced in front of us, then moved in a circle around us, silently. His energy was elemental, though not one that I recognized. He felt the same age as Max.

After about 20-30 minutes of playing congregation I decided to lie on the floor a few feet away from Max. Trance facilitation is best for me when lying, so I assumed my usual pose. As soon as I was flat on the floor, the voice started yammering away in rapid-fire stream of conscious touching on topics that were on my mind. I hadn’t time to set an intention or direct the interaction in any way, but the influx was intriguing. Ever the scribe I stopped trying to listen to Max and wrote as fast as I could.

I didn’t come away with secret information on Max or his origin. Its purpose and that of its cohorts remains a mystery. In the spirit of honoring that ancient puzzle I share an excerpt of its words to me:

“Kelley, take heed in your own guidance, your own council—the world is small and your space in it large. This love knows. This love grows. Understand that your role in exactness is simple—live. Live in everything that you do. Do not be hindered by the trivial ties, for you are bound to nothing. There is nothing you cannot do. You will write this all. You have written it all. Please hear your own voice in what you say. You have chosen it, the tool, the words. It is uncommon, such devotion. Never doubt this. You are dear.

Let your body free its chains to stricture and common. You know its rivers’ sanctity and holding are deep with fervor.”

All in a Day’s Work

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.

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

For several years I’ve worked as a technical documentation specialist for a state agency housed in a renovated old hospital in Raleigh. The hospital itself was functional in the mid 1930s through the late 1970s, becoming the agency I’ve worked with in the early 1980s. When I first came to work at the complex 13 years ago I did not know that it had been a hospital, though the greeting of trauma energy as soon as I entered the building was a profound clue. My tension was confirmed within my first hour there when I was told that it had been the largest hospital in the area at its inception, and shortly after I received my orientation hazing with the ‘ghost stories’ of the spirit nurse in Elevator 1 who likes to play with the buttons and skip floors, the murmuring crowd that can be heard when alone in the building, doors opening and closing on their own—the usual paranormal fare. Of course accompanying those stories were ones of the collectively marked infant graves in the courtyard, various rumors about blood in the morgue (though I never saw that), and just general mumblings of uneasiness in certain areas of the complex from a grounds keeper.

Intent on my writing gig, I left the woowoo at home. I showed up everyday, did my work and called it a day. I never had any intention of mixing business with… well, business. Of course it wasn’t long before I started having odd experiences. Starting out innocuously enough, I heard my name yelled out in an empty room (I had a huge office to myself for about a year), heard the door to my office open and shut followed by the footsteps of someone walking up behind me, though no one would be there when I turned around, and had an ever persistent feeling that someone was standing behind me while I was working. Events reached a crescendo when I felt an unseen hand linger on my shoulder one afternoon. I’ve set the intention fairly clearly that I will allow spontaneous spirit communication because that is part of my job as a deathwalker. However, I’m not receptive to being randomly touched by any stranger, living or spirit. I completed what I needed to do for the day then went to my car. I sat in the parking lot for 30 minutes holding space for the dead to move through. They came in droves. I’d never experienced a mass psychopomp event before. They never stopped coming. The only reason that I ended the session was because I was tired and it was dark outside. I felt bad for truncating the session, but I had to respect my own boundaries. Nobody loves a tired deathwalker.

I sat with the memory of that session for a long time, and as a result became more tolerant of the spirit interactions of my day job. I no longer separated my jobs. Part of my arrival routine became to greet the dead much as I do the living when we pass in the hall—which, by the way—on several occasions I’ve passed random people in the hall, brushed right up against them, only to glance immediately back to find no one in the corridor but myself. It has truly become the norm. When I softened to the regularity of spirit visitors they began to interact with me more, particularly after my office was relocated to the 4th floor.

Raleigh SkylineI don’t know what the 4th floor was used for in the hospital, but as soon as I moved up there I began to see a few spirit regulars. One in particular was a young African American woman in her early 20s standing to the far left of the sinks. She was dressed in a very simple peach colored shift with a tiny hat the same color. She wore white gloves and clutched a white pocketbook tightly in both hands in front of her. Her gaze was toward the floor, and she didn’t seem happy. She was not interested in talking with me but she did let me know that she was not a patient at the hospital. She had been a guest visiting someone who had died there. The understanding that her loved one was no longer in the building did not occur to her, but she was afraid to be released. I did not coerce her and went on my way. I saw her several times, always in that same spot, and we would greet each other amicably.

One afternoon I was sitting at my desk when I felt her come into the office. Her mood had brightened considerably and she wanted to be released. She passed easily on to Spirit when another soul came. I held the space for that one to move through, when more continued to come. I sat for maybe 15 minutes as spirits moved through. However, even with all the movement I observed something unusual. There were hundreds of them observing the parade of souls, some even venturing to come up very close to my face, as if I was an oddity to them. In that session I felt that these were not all souls of those who had affiliation with the hospital. In fact, some of the souls I was sensing had never been human at all. Some had never even been in form, but were discarnate wafting entities. When I closed my eyes and visualized the complex from above it appeared as a vast vortex extending deep into the ground with thousands of souls meandering in it. It felt like a stagnant thinner area in the veil, when it should have been a free-flowing Grand Central Station of souls, easily sliding Here and There. Despite the number of souls I sensed in the space, those seeking to pass through had dwindled. Many were lingering just to watch.

Having spirits converge at a focal point then not facilitating some kind of release for them isn’t the smartest idea, but it’s also futile to try to force one to move on when it doesn’t want to, let alone to try to force hundreds. Yet I felt that this stagnancy was happening for a reason and I needed to honor it even if I did not understand it. I had my guides call on the guardians of the land there, to create the safest most supportive atmosphere possible for all souls inhabiting the space—living or discarnate. I figured if I couldn’t move them through the default was to make the veil there comfortable for us all. I checked on the situation fairly regularly, though, holding brief sessions to release those who were ready.

That was more than three years ago, now, and I continue to work with the space. No matter how many sessions I hold, souls never stop coming to pass through my openings for them. I have come to regard the complex as a haven for souls who indeed have endured some sort of trauma, even if that trauma merely was not passing peacefully into What Comes After. I’ve also concluded that there is something about the land itself that attracts all of these souls. What was built on it in modern times as place to care for others was merely focusing the land’s innate power to do just that. Perhaps with time and attention the land will give up more of its mysteries.

Intentional Insights is a Q&A column inviting you to look inside yourself. If you have a question that you would like for me to address in my column regarding a brief Soul Reading or questions about spiritual healing and shamanism, please send them to me at Kelley at soulintentarts dot com, or contact me to schedule a full-length Soul Reading. Intentional Insights is a production of Soul Intent Arts. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Hotel Phillips and Murderous Insomnia

Every year for Samhain I publish accounts of my more charged, and in some cases creepy, spiritual pursuits. The Dead Time is a treasured journey to Solstice, and as it is a time of untime, the shadowed season presents a great opportunity to tell the stories that many who do shamanic work won’t tell–the occasions when things don’t go well or the unseen presents itself unexpectedly. You may recognize some of these accounts from my previous stories, while others are more recent. Enjoy the solitude of the darkness, and know the light will soon warm!

Hotel Phillips - Photo by hotelphillips.comEarly Spring of 2002 I had the fortune of spending a week at the beautiful Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, Missouri, while on a business trip. I am quite used to loads of spirit traffic when I stay in hotels; however, my stay at Hotel Phillips offered a bit more than the luxury experience the lush establishment touts. From the first night that I checked into room 1513, I sensed many presences–again, not unusual at all, as I do quite a bit of psychopomp work. Staying in hotels for me is like being tapped on the shoulder constantly, far from restful, and Hotel Phillips was no different. Upon checking into their room, other people hang up their clothes first thing. I create sacred space and release errant energies, a gesture part compassion and part hopeful of a solid night’s sleep.

One presence in particular stood out right away, a female whose only visual aspect was a white lace hem that I saw close to the floor. I saw “her” in my room and hall several times the first few days that I was there, though she would not allow me to feel her. What was odd about this spirit was when I offered to release her she did not want to go. I also got a sense with this presence more than any of the others that she had indeed died in the building, and needed friendly company. Regardless, I couldn’t sleep in the room. She was not particularly bothersome or ever present, but her air of unrest was contagious.

Thursday morning I got up, showered, and was drying my hair in the bathroom when I felt that I was not alone. The feminine presence was with me. I opened the bathroom door to find a distraught woman standing there. She was about 22-25 years old with long auburn curly hair, a Caucasian woman in a rather formal 1930s style dress. Her white hem fell just above her ankles—the garment I had been seeing all week. As I gazed upward I saw a large bloody wound in her chest, which dripped blood and tissue onto the floor. She had been shot and was experiencing the panic of her death moment before me.

I stepped out of the bathroom and through her, as she stepped to the side of my bed. I did not learn her name, but I felt a strong sense of betrayal, that she had become involved with a man and the relationship could not for whatever reason come to fruition. This man is who shot her. I often learn information around the cause of death, and it’s always fascinating. Staying true to my role as psychopomp means that details are mere curiosities. The only real objective in working with the dead is to learn how I can facilitate helping them move on to the next phase of their destiny, and doing just that. Everything else is superfluous. That said, sometimes learning what I must from them and helping them shift is no easy feat.

I asked her if she wanted to move on, and she hesitated. I told her that she would not have fully shown herself to me if she did not want help and asked her what held her here. My sense was that she was waiting for the man who killed her–her lover–to somehow redeem himself. I told her that she may have a long wait, that she had already had a long wait, and that she could wait for him to make amends in a much better place than this hotel. After a bit more discussion, she allowed me to walk her into Spirit space and all was restful.

I went on to work for the day, but from the minute I entered the room that night, I was uneasy. The oppressive feel of the room was worse than it had been since my arrival, and I realized that whoever was there was angry at me, yet the spirit refused to communicate.

Once in bed, the lights were out for about two minutes when I began to hear extremely loud scuffling noises moving around the room. I lay there and listened for a few seconds, when finally the sound reached a crescendo behind my headboard forming a complete circle around me. The entity meant to frighten, if not threaten me. Though difficult to describe, there was palpable movement in the discordant sound and it pushed against my ribs. Non-consensual physical contact from spirits is an extremely disturbing phenomenon. When an encounter reaches that point fear becomes anger.

Enraged, I observed a male in the room, about four feet from the foot of my bed. Although well-dressed he was surrounded by black clouds. He, too, was Caucasian, though physically did not appear entirely human. I knew this man was the killer, and that he had killed many times. He was a nasty piece of work, and he was angry at me for interacting with the woman. He had killed her in the hotel, though not in that room, and he had never been linked to the crime. His pride was wounded that I knew what had happened, as he was used to getting away with everything. I had seen his dirty deeds and he wanted to eliminate me as a threat. He was afraid that I would hand him over to some authority for punishment. He was so stuck in a defensive consciousness that he didn’t seem to realize that he was dead.

Real Wyrd - A Modern Shaman's Roots in the Middle World by S. Kelley HarrellI told him that I didn’t care what he had done in his life, that I wasn’t there to judge him. Gradually his energy softened. The noise in the room stopped. I said that this was not the place he needed to be anymore, that whatever happened between him and the woman was between them, and if he felt ready to deal with that from a more useful place that I could help him. I also made it perfectly clear that I was ready to sleep and we would not be negotiating all night. When I said that to him, the clouds around him began to dissipate, but I still did not see him clearly. I held the space for a good 45 minutes or so, but he went relatively easily. For the first time since I checked into Hotel Phillips my room was quiet on all fronts.

The next morning I approached the concierge, asking if anyone had ever reported anything strange about room 1513. He, along with the staff at the front desk, went pale and asked me what had happened. When I told them that I saw a woman in my room, they stammered a bit, eventually going on to say that they had not had reports about that room, and had not had anything reported at all since the hotel had re-opened after renovations the previous Fall. They offered to assign me to a different room, and when I declined huddled in the corner whispering. Clearly they were aware of creepy occurrences, but I couldn’t tell if they would be relieved or disappointed to learn that their gangster spectre was no longer a guest.

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.

Also, read the 2014 followup to this encounter.

Phone Calls from Beyond

I have been receiving restricted phone calls that are not normal. My cell will ring once, maybe twice and when I answer there is this strange static. The phone calls have been happening only when I am sleeping. Today however I received calls while at work. I truly believe someone is trying to contact me or tell me something. I am not sure if it is my guide or my parents that have passed away in the last few years. Is there someway for me to figure out what and who these calls are about? I am both curious and tired. Thanks ~A

Thank you for your note, A. When I ask for the spirit of who is making these calls to come I am greeted by a matronly woman. She appears to be in her mid fifties, has curly, dark blond hair, and is wearing a navy blue printed dress that is somewhat out of date–late 70s, early 80s. She has a very maternal feel about her but she tells me that she is not your mother. What troubles me about her is that she is constantly wringing her hands and her face is lined with worry. Other aspects of her form tell me that she is deceased and that she was murdered. She was never given a proper burial. Her body was more or less dumped and buried in a shallow grave under a tree in a very boggy area a few decades ago.

When I sit with her I realize that she will not be able to speak without fear until some healing is done for her. When that healing is completed she tells me that at the time of her death she had a daughter that was 7-8. She was killed by the daughter’s father. My feeling is that she was pregnant when she was killed, and that pregnancy was the reason she was murdered, even though she child feels to have been her husband’s. I learn no other specifics about her death.

I asked her how she was connected to you and her reason for contacting you. She indicated that she was attracted to you through your wonderful relationship with your daughter and because you have a very kind heart. I do not have a sense that you knew her in life, in fact, I feel that she is connected to the area where you currently live–not necessarily your exact house, but that community, that land. I also feel very clearly that the husband’s crime was never found out and that the mother was concerned for her daughter unknowingly in contact with her mother’s killer. The daughter is not in physical danger, in fact the father is quite elderly now, if not dead, himself.

It seems that this mother saw you as someone who could understand her pain, and someone she wanted to help her move on. The fact that you realized something besides a technical glitch was happening is an indication of your own awareness and potential ability as a deathwalker. If you have ever had any inclination to develop your own intuitive skills, it would seem there’s plenty of support for you to do so. Be well, A!

What is a Shaman? What Can a Shaman Do for Me?

I’ve observed that the Universe seems to send out memos on topics, as I will go ages without an inquiry about a particular theme then receive several at once. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve encountered people curious about shamanism. On the whole people do not stumble into shamanism, whether that is feeling led to study it or to receive shamanic healing. Even in the world of energy work and holistic medicine shamanism still seems to elude many. In hopes of addressing this spiritual curiosity I am reworking a hand out I give to new clients, information that is also on my website. That information is: What is a shaman? What can a shaman do for me?

There are all kinds of academic, even poetic explanations of what shamans are and what they do. In fact, a very detailed FAQ on shamanism can be found at various locations on the web. Detail or no, the questions from most people are, “What is a shaman? What can a shaman do for me?”

Siberian Shaman, Lake Baikal

Siberian Shaman, Lake Baikal

A shaman can help you heal whatever you are open to healing. Shamans are intermediaries with the spirit world, not just links to the spirits but explorers of the spirit realm, itself. “Aren’t we all?” you ask. Yes, we all have the potential to be, though not all of us readily know how. We are not all active participants in the worlds within and around us, though we all have the ability to be.

Shamanism is not a religion; rather, it is a perspective entailing that everything is alive. A base shamanic view holds that everything, everything has a soul, and is connected to every creature and energy. Through that connection we are able to travel out of our bodies beyond our egos to communicate with souls of the dead, ourselves and other humans; plants, animals, Earth, the elements; even “higher” spirits, such as guides, helpers, our own High Selves, and our Higher Power. How shamans accomplish this act is perhaps most telling, and most individual.

There are some basic tenets of shamanism that pervade ancient, indigenous cultures, and neoshamanic practice such as we all have animal guides and spirit guides; the concept of soul retrieval; extracting an illness or entity from the body for physical, emotional, mental or spiritual healing; psychopomp work, or death walking–guiding the dead to Spirit; and divination. Beyond the basic functions a shaman performs the similarities across cultures largely stop there. Shamanic cultures are diverse, as every cultural history records a social role of a person performing some facet of the role of shaman. Called medicine men, wise women, skywalkers, nagual, and many more titles and roles, today the purpose of the shaman is no different. Neoshamanic work draws on these same primary tenets creating many outlets for learning indigenous and contemporary shamanic practices for daily life.

Given the range of techniques shamans use, it’s important to understand how these skills apply to everyday life. In the most broad perspective, shamans promote healing. Opening communication with the spirit realm can open you to your own healing ability, body, mind, soul, and emotion. Bear in mind that no shaman, doctor, surgery, or medication can heal you. You heal yourself. You make the conscious decision to allow whatever healing modality you receive to actually heal you. Healing is your personal agreement between yourself and Spirit. Know that when you interact in the journey state, which is the theta brain wave level of deep cognizant deep dreaming, you are in the space to directly access yourself at the central levels of being. You can reshape your physical and spiritual DNA, taking command of the creative ability with which Spirit blessed you. With shamanic healing you are an active participant in your wellbeing. Through understanding your ability to co-create your own life with Spirit, you not only improve your own quality of life, but that of All Life.



What a shaman can do for you depends on your reasons for seeking one. Perhaps you have a chronic illness that doesn’t seem to abate. Perhaps you are depressed, or want to be rid of a disruptive pattern, relationship, belief, or habit in your life. Perhaps you feel you have unlimited potential, but can’t seem to manifest it into what you need in your life. Perhaps you just want to find meaning in your life, or want insight into your own abilities. Maybe you want to meet your spirit guides. The reunion with your guides can help in each of those things, as well as the reunion with your High Self. Remembering these relationships allows you to reconnect to Spirit, empowering you, and giving you intimate knowledge of your own strengths, abilities, and love. You will never feel alone again once you have remembered your spiritual allies.

Additional work could also help, such as a soul retrieval, in which spirit aspects that left due to trauma are returned and integrated, allowed to heal and age to your current maturity. In some cases soul aspects aren’t returned to the Earth consciousness but move on to Spirit. The effects of this technique usually include ending the pattern of chronic illness, depression, or other pattern that you have become locked into. In some cases, memories are returned, and certainly abilities that you may have missed as you have aged.

Another way to specifically address patterns, thoughts, or habits that have become harmful, such as addiction, obsessive behaviour, a disruptive relationship dynamic, or even chronic illness is life regression and progression. Often seeing the origin of these patterns helps one to clear them, as well as talking with a future self to see the healing as it has manifest and carried through one’s life.

In some cases, an extraction of an intruding entity is needed to release a pattern or offending condition. Some refer to this as depossession or exorcism, though it is rarely theatrical as it is depicted in fiction. It is, however, quite profound. In the most base terms such interferences are merely energy that is no longer functional in its current place. Symptoms of this may be physical issues, radical shifts in mood or temperament, an imbalance of power in a relationship. When the energy is removed and health flow to the etheric form restored the flow balance on all levels can be better maintained.

DIY Totemism

DIY Totemism

Another way to bring about balanced flow in your life force is a technique called “dismemberment”. In this technique, your animal guide is asked to do the dismemberment, and allowed to completely destroy your physical body. The animal may “re-member” you immediately after, or it may recommend that you take time in this re-membering. The end result is your body fully re-membered, without the affliction. It is new.

These are just a few of the techniques shamans use, and only a vague description of the reasons that you may feel led to a shaman. Wildspeak is a great resource of articles on shamanism, animism and a quite extensive animal totem dictionary. As well, for insight into working with helping spirits, Lupa’s DIY Totemism: Your Personal Guide to Animal Totems is brilliant.

Gift of the Dreamtime

Gift of the Dreamtime

My book, Gift of the Dreamtime: Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma gives a thorough presentation of shamanic healing in a useable modern context and may be very helpful in determining if shamanic work is appropriate for you.

I wish you deep healing and prolific power!

The Necessity of Honoring Spiritual Unity

Thanks for your help Kelley. Why do my husband and I have such a hard time together? Divorce is not an option. Thanks, L.

Thanks for your note, L. When I rise up into soul space and look down at how the two of you are energetically connected that life force is very thin and dim. That tells me that that neither of you has lived in spiritual recognition of each other. The marriage, roles of partners, etc., have been honored, but making the spiritual observation and connection to each other has gone without nurture. The relevance of soul relationship hasn’t been an emphasized aspect of your marriage, but it still can be. The connection is there. I realize that may be challenging to do after you have been with someone for a long time. It’s more challenging to allow yourself to see that person in a new light, to commit to yourself to allow your existing relationship to be the one you want. This bond can be fostered by giving it attention daily, if not more often. The same way that you hold up things in prayer, give energy to world peace, make daily affirmations, send Reiki to someone, or manifest personal goals must be the level that you reverence your soul bond with your husband. It has to become part of your regular way that you interact with your own soulful nature. I believe that it is perhaps a smoother transition to make when all parties involved are practicing this spiritual reverence together, particularly if you communicate about it, but both do not have to do it for positive change to occur. Exploring Tantric connection could be very useful, and it may be a more acceptable avenue for such work for your husband. One facet of this for you both is learning to voice your bond to each other, and not through rote “I love you,” or other passive gestures. Speaking your truth is critical to the success of any relationship. My sense is that the friction between you will abate radically when the soul bond is given some attention.

I realize that you are not seeking challenging transition, whether that is through divorce or in revitalizing your marriage. I also realize that you are not seeking change, though if you want things to change challenging transition is unavoidable. Even if you do not feel that you can give to your marriage on a spiritual level, it would be very beneficial to you to do some energy work to soothe your own sense of struggle and loss around that, and if you feel led, to work with a therapist in finding your voice.

I wish you the deepest, most soulful love.

Soul Twins, Soulmates, Twin Flames and Rigid Truth

“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” ~Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness

The Post-Traumatic Stress of Maternal Awakening by S. Kelley HarrellI recently featured Chödrön’s quote as my Twitter update while I was penning a response to a client regarding soulmates. The two seemed so related that the quote is fitting to introduce this collective inquiry: What are soulmates and why do we seek them?

Most of us have been given some concept of soul connection by early childhood, a definition that sticks with us unless or until we explore the concept ourselves. When I first began working with others as a shaman a large number of my clients were dealing with some aspect of ‘soulmate,’ whether it was the search to find one or clarifying an existing relationship with a soul relation. The thing that I noticed most was how desperately many cling to the concept of ‘soulmate’ and to the people they believe to be such. I was curious about what led people to believe that soulmate = perfect union, that having a soul connection to someone would entail staying in a relationship that clearly did not meet needs. Equally, I was driven to understand the psychology that feels it’s useless unless it is in a recognizable soul union.

Examining how the concept of ‘soul relationship’ is put out there one quickly bumps into Edgar Cayce’s work around the topics of “soul twins” and “twin flames.” Having been widely interpreted, the perspective largely perpetuated through his readings is that there is one and only one perfect soul complement. In this view the soul is a dual-faceted entity that splits itself in two equal masculine and feminine life forces in order to bridge a wider terrain of experience and learning in the earth plane. These two come together in formed life to complete the Oversoul’s (or High Self’s) earthly work. I’m comfortable that Cayce knew things that I don’t, though within the framework of my experience is a truth that souls are limitless. Not only are they infinite, they are collectives spanning distance and time, perhaps even dimensions, doing acrobatic energetic feats, splitting into many manifestations and rejoining so cleverly we can’t begin to hold them in linear understanding. This is the beauty of our transpersonal. It isn’t just metaphor that we are all connected regardless of the era we were born, the location in which we reside, the biological sex we wear, or the species we inhabit. We are connected, period.

I’ve had many clients come to me who realized they were in a soul-connected relationship only to find that interpersonal issues weren’t resolved by virtue of this spirit union. Most couldn’t understand how a precious soulmate could inflict harm on its Other. The reality is being connected at very high levels to someone doesn’t automatically impart that the earth consciousness is well-adjusted. In fact, it doesn’t imply anything. Unfulfilled expectations are the result of earthly filters we have applied to a spiritual state of being. In that state several of my clients expressed that they felt they had been given a divine gift and to walk away from it would be a dismissal of their Higher Power. More harrowing for some was the idea that in leaving this soulmate they would karmically forfeit finding another. Changing this belief isn’t just leaving a lover or spouse but is a crisis of faith much the same as realizing one’s chosen religion no longer suffices. For many to turn away from a soulmate, even in extremely abusive situations it feels like going against Nature because we have been programmed to view soul connections through a limited earthly lens. In some cases we have been indoctrinated to put our interpretation of those filters above our own welfare and needs. That inclination is as harmful in unhealthy soulmate relationships as it is insidious in those who feel they have no self-worth without one.

In that light it isn’t the soul connection that is damaging; rather, the way we have been taught to perceive it is. Soul connection at its most basic isn’t about how many we have or how long they last. The soul doesn’t know male or female, or loving one versus loving five, or romantic versus platonic love. It doesn’t even differentiate cat from tree, or son from place. The soul does not know time. All it knows is fluid, expanding compassion and unconditional love for All Things. When we start applying linear constructs to soul connections and spiritual experiences, the experiences become stagnant. Any thriving wisdom they imparted ceases to evolve and grow.

The Celtic concept of “anam cara” is the most fluid understanding of soul bonding that I’ve learned, the “soul friend,” one who simply by being in form reminds us of infinite connection and moves us in the way of growth when we won’t move ourselves. For that reason soulful bonds often create more challenges for us, rather than less. What I see in that dynamic is our power to create ourselves exactly as we want to be in as many ways as we can comprehend. Within that open comprehension and bond with All That Is, would it not be possible to see anyone as a soulmate, if we allowed it?

We live at a time that the rules for how we come into this plane are changing, if they ever were truly static. Perhaps it is our ability to widen our comprehension of the rules that has changed. Years ago a friend said to me, “When you find truth, pick it up. Inspect it carefully, then put it down and walk away.” Truth, like souls, cannot be held. My outlook has been more fluid since I learned this. I have become my metaphor, and in doing so recognize you more freely.