Tag: suffering spirits

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.

The Tribe of the Modern Mystic – Setting Spiritual Boundaries with Challenging Energies

In a recent discussion around disruptive energetic activity in someone’s house a question arose that often comes up in such dynamics: What do you do when a visiting energy doesn’t honor boundaries?

Many people at some point encounter energetic or spiritual activity in their home or workspace that they find disruptive, disturbing, or flat out frightening. Most often, how that energy is dealt with determines how well the dynamic finds balance. I’m careful to distinguish “energetic” from “spiritual.” Sometimes the activity in a space is due to odd fluctuations in the etheric field and has nothing to do with spirits. In this case, balancing the elements of the space can bring relief. Likewise, there can be a spiritual presence that readily exhibits a personality or humanoid traits, such as a female form or voice. Ultimately such disturbances indicate a different kind of energy out of balance and don’t carry a “good” or “bad” judgement. They just indicate that something needs attention. For most people it is the element of surprise that is bothersome. This is true whether the disturbance is another person coming up behind them or an insect popping out. Once they get their bearings on the situation they manage it by asserting a more suitable way to approach, or by determining if that particular bug can roam freely in the house. With the boundary set, things calm. It’s no different with spiritual energies. In the case of a spiritual interruption, we set boundaries, such as, “It’s OK if you’re here, though I allow no physical contact,” or “It’s OK that you’re here, though please no surprise visits.” What happens when the energy doesn’t hold up its end of the peace?

In order to understand why an energy doesn’t honor a boundary, let’s examine what that energy may be and its reason for making itself known to start with. There are many scenarios under which spiritual activity happens, and I can only touch on a few here. Figuring out what sort of visitor is present is key to resolving any unrest it causes. Some visitors warn about dangerous situations. Once the danger is removed, the energy moves on and disruption stops. Others are enticed into a peaceful environment and simply want to enjoy it. Some don’t know they’re deceased and don’t realize they need to move on. Others perished traumatically and are locked in a PTSD dynamic, acting out their demise until someone understands that’s what’s happening and helps them move on. In some cases a paranormal disturbance can indicate trouble in the home. The phenomenon referred to as “poltergeist” activity isn’t necessarily a spirit visitor at all, but an unconscious projection of a person in the household (usually a child) who has been traumatized and doesn’t have the communication skills to express their distress.

Spirit VisitorsAnother frequently occurring phenomenon is the visitation of spirit guides (or as some call them, guardian angels), who shake up the environment, particularly in the case of children, budding intuitives, or empaths who refuse to acknowledge their Other sight. Even in the case of a visiting guide–beings we often assume to be gentle angelic creatures–we question their need to sometimes be forceful or frighten us. Sometimes we have received gradual small signals that we may have ignored or just didn’t process as spirit communication, so a bigger display of need finally gets our attention. Another way to look at it is by considering that spirits are beings from a foreign country and they don’t speak the language, or don’t know the customs. They don’t know that disembodied voices in the night scare us, or that dropping onto the mattress while we’re sleeping is a bit rude. Again, that element of surprise prevents us from perceiving friendly interactions, or at least misconstrued actions with good intentions. Hence, this is the reason the accepted historic accounts with angels always begin with, “Fear not!” Moving past that initial shock is what determines whether we get the memo.

All of that said, when we have such experiences an opening for them has to be created somewhere. Sure we can feel so terrified by spirit interaction that we run screaming from it and never look back, and no such contact happens again. The cultural myth of “fire in the head” exists for a reason, though I think it’s somewhat misunderstood. We’ve all read legends of the old man who heard voices and went crazy, or the young girl who was visited by spirits that wouldn’t leave her alone. The message handed down has been that if we don’t accept the task of becoming a seer or conduit of the spiritual world in some way that bad things will happen. I think it’s more benevolent than that. In my experience we don’t have to take on the whole arena of what a spiritual encounter may mean, even ones that are very personal. We don’t have to quit our jobs and move to an ashram in India or suddenly become vegetarian and take herbalism classes. It may mean that kind of sweeping life change for some people. What it demands without question is that we honor that we had an experience outside of our understanding, that we allow that one little interaction to open our understanding of All Things. That’s all. In that light when we have a challenging spiritual experience and we refuse to acknowledge it, chances are the environment will become more restless, not because we are cursed or are refusing the leadership of a spirit guide, but because we are refusing some wisdom to light within ourselves. This is the reason that instead of dismissing energetic adversity we open a dialogue with it. This is why instead of shutting down that part of ourselves we set boundaries for how we can accept it. We do so not because we need to control the unseen, but because we have had a spiritual opening, an opportunity to learn something about ourselves.

Still, what if we go through all of these things and our visitor is still being obnoxious? I tell clients to keep two things in mind. The first is that All Things are connected, so when we speak from our truth, All Things actively participating in that connection recognize that fact and honor our needs. Create the habit of observing and regrouping when caught offguard–seen or unseen–and set a boundary not out of shocked fear, but from personal truth. It works. The second thing I tell people when a visitor isn’t honoring their boundary is, because All Things are connected, consider what All Things is trying to communicate something important. It may be about us, about the energy, or about the environment. There is a reason it is persisting, the least of which is to be merely bothersome. A final consideration is if the experience has traumatized the individual it’s very hard to find a place of balance from which to set boundaries. Activity will likely persist until the PTSD of the individual can be released.

In our western culture we don’t have the community Crone sitting by the campfire scrying out the best way to do this year’s crop planting or helping us make sense of experiences that don’t fit our norm. For this reason I actively teach people how to soften their experience of Other and to learn to integrate it into their lives. Western culture is the only thriving population on the planet that regards paranormal activity as astounding, riveting, or disturbing. All other cultures have integrated it into their experience of everyday. As a result of our separation from our spiritual perception, we panic when it seeks to reunite with us. I first met my spirit guide when I was about twelve or thirteen. I woke over years finding him standing at the foot of my bed, or at the end of the hall when I got up for water in the night. All he did was stand there, but that was all it took to terrify me. I didn’t learn who he was for another fifteen years. For that reason through private sessions, classes, and Distance Mystery School, I’ve committed to create a new tribe of support for children and adults whose lives are blessed with such experiences and an uncontainable inner knowing. I’ve committed to create The Tribe of the Modern Mystic.

As you feel led, I’ll be waiting by the fire.

Healing the PTSD of Paranormal Probing

This week’s inquiry is a comment from my last article Paranormal Investigating – Troubleshooting the Middle World. “Kelley, you said “Should you find residuals from the encounter with these spirits – things like paranoia, troublesome thought or behavior patterns that disrupt your daily life – these are indications that your PTSD switch for paranormal experiences has been flipped on and you should seek help in turning it off.” I dabbled stupidly with the Ouija board as a kid and other things before I realized the seriousness of it. Now, decades later it seems that something may have remained. How can I turn it off? Thanks, Carolyn.”

Thanks for reading and contributing, Carolyn. The absolute best thing to do if you feel PTSD or anything unfinished from these experiences is to find a shaman to help you. I can do this work remotely, but if you let me know your location perhaps I can connect you with someone with whom you can work in person if that is preferred.

Traumatic experience with the paranormal could be as benign as the shock of being told information you weren’t prepared to know or that no one else could know. It could be as jarring as seeing objects move, hearing voices, seeing visitors… Fright can even come days later in some signal, synchronicity, or dream pointing back to the spirit interaction. The definition of ‘trauma’ varies person-to-person. The point is you know you’ve been traumatized if you can’t step out of the fear stemming from the original interaction.

Generally speaking, there are three layers to the aftermath of such spirit interactions. First is turning off the switch, which I call rebalancing your etheric field. Second is removing any errant life force that may be clinging to yours. Third is healing focused on balancing the energy shifts from all of the above.

There is no shortcut to finding the place in your etheric field that is vulnerable to the trauma and rebalancing it. Where it’s located is unique to the individual and the experience. If you are adept at working with the etheric field you can do this yourself, though I would still recommend allowing someone else to do it. The life impact of this kind of imbalance bears being thorough. There are many ways to balance the etheric field, all of which require some knowledge of life force and how to move it.  At this stage, the original trauma is healed, as are emotions that came with it.

Removing unnecessary energies attached to yours is called by many names depending on culture and circumstance—depossession, extraction, releasement. The state of having unneeded life force attached to yours is not good or bad. It’s not light or dark. There are no such judgments in shamanic work. What exists is a state in which you are not functioning at your desired ability and benevolent work can be done to re-establish balance.

Like attracts like. When you experience something that puts you into a panicked, anxious, or terrified state, you attract energy of that same state. Psychological models call this PTSD, or being “shell-shocked.” Spiritually speaking PTSD is recognized when you attract people who express the same feelings, situations reinforcing those feelings, or spirits/energies of similar trauma. You think the distress and building panic are yours, when in reality like attraction is merely exacerbating it. This scenario constitutes a spiritual emergency. Until you direct healing to the trigger for the trauma the anxiety and panic keep playing out and/or attracting more of the same. This is the spiritual truth of any trauma, not just those of paranormal origin.

After balancing the etheric field to restore calmness and removing unnecessary life force, healing is directed to all levels of your being, to help changes from the etheric and spiritual work to gently ground.

How About Demons? by Dr. Felicitas Goodman

How About Demons? by Dr. Felicitas Goodman

That’s it, in a not-so-brief nutshell. If you want to understand “the switch”–what it is, how it functions, and how the spiritual technology of managing it crosses cultures and time, the definitive work in my opinion is How About Demons? by Felicitas D. Goodman.

Be well, Carolyn.

Paranormal Investigating – Troubleshooting the Middle World

Kelley, I’ve been dabbling in the Salt Lake paranormal scene. Myself, a friend, and a medium-in-training went to a haunted place that is said to have demons. I have an electronic device that lets disembodied entities speak phonetically. After some questions about what spirits were with us and to see if they knew who we were (they knew my friend), the medium then said she got a feeling of dread and fear. When I asked the spirits if they knew who I was, they said, “Death.” One EVP (electronic voice phenomena) said what we think was, “Don’t talk to him.” Another later said, “Hide.” The medium said that the ghosts were uneasy and unwilling to communicate, something not that unusual unless a “demon” entity is involved. I’m aware of previous manifestations of myself that were very affected by discarnate energies, and the degree to which I had carried that into my current life. Is it really possible for spirits to fear me because of my history? Was I being called Death or being warned of my death? Thanks, J.

Thanks for your note, J. It’s good to hear from you again. J and I have worked together before; thus, some personal info is omitted from this inquiry. As we say in the computer programming world, so spirit communication follows the same rule: Garbage in, garbage out. Thus begins your first lesson in understanding the Middle World.

Spirit Board via About.com

Spirit Board via About.com

The differences between mediumship and what I do as a shaman are intention and location. While shamans can act as mediums, they cast a much wider net. Generally speaking, most cultures of shamanism have a trifold cosmology, as in Upper World, Middle and Lower–none of which correspond with the assumed Abrahamic counterparts. The Middle World is the spirit layer of the Earth realm. It’s the place where souls become stuck when they die and don’t move on, when they have unfinished business. It’s the place of earthly astral travel and lucid dreaming. This is also part of the layer where faeries are, Nature spirits, devas. The kind of spirit communication that you described happens in the Middle World, which is generally the only layer most psychics and mediums access.


What that means is when you connect with spirits in the Middle layer, they’re most often not guides. They’re not beings committed to working for your benefit. They may be higher entities or lightbeings, but that’s where intention comes in. I teach a class on connecting safely with spirits in the Middle World according to your intentions and ability to navigate the spirit realms. Without a clear intention, as in just venturing out to see the spiritual manifestation of or in a space–particularly one you consider to be “haunted”–you ask for garden variety, you get garden variety. You have no control over with whom you connect. For many studying shamanism, the Middle World can be the trickiest to navigate simply because it is so close to our own reality. From the time we begin to explore the Middle World we are emotionally involved, and the kinds of spirits who hang out there know it. Boundaries are imperative.

The short version is that discarnate human spirits in the Middle World are usually there for a reason, the least of which is that they are not well. Generally speaking, souls and consciousness seek growth and widening their awareness. Staying stuck in one place, in form or out, is not part of the plan, and the state of being stuck often leads to suffering even if the spirit’s life and death were peaceful. Any communication you have with such souls is going to reflect their state of being. In the event that you have similar buttons in your psyche regarding that state of being, they will be pushed.

That is what I feel happened in your experience. Because of your past brushes with intentionally adverse souls, you have significant buttons around PTSD, particularly PTSD that is the result of a harmful paranormal interaction. The moral of that story is that you can’t just go unmitigated into spirit communication–even as the passenger. You really need a set intention and some education on what the varying options are in spirit communication, as well as how to connect with the kind of spirits who bring something meaningful to your life and quite possibly you to theirs. My sense is that the spirits you encountered were mirroring your latent fear of yourself, not expressing fear of or for you. Low vibration entities can’t originate much, but they can exacerbate your fears. They truly are parasitic life forces that draw on the strongest vibe nearest them. If your vibe of fear of your shadows in your past was strongest, that is what you received back in communication from them.

This en masse modern trend of paranormal investigators that just pop in and stir up trouble then wonder why they’re chronically sick, why they need to sleep with the lights on, why they’re uncomfortable around large groups of people… amuses me. This etheric tapping on the fishbowl is the opposite of bridgebuilding in the arena of soul work, and is the reason that I do not under any circumstances support garden variety spirit communication. If you (or your friends) don’t know what you’re doing, don’t risk being unable to undo it. Should you find residuals from the encounter with these spirits–things like paranoia, troublesome thought or behaviour patterns that disrupt your daily life–these are indications that your PTSD switch for paranormal experiences has been flipped on and you should seek help in turning it off.

Be well, J.

This discussion continues in  Healing the PTSD of Paranormal Probing.

Soul Intent Arts – Ten Years, Ten Observations of an Animistic Soul #10 (and #11)

Soul Intent ArtsIn 2000, I created my neoshamanic practice, Soul Intent Arts. I’d worked with others for two years, and had crafted a personal animistic path with strong shamanic influences for ten years prior. Making the transition from spiritual seeker to committed shamanic practitioner was a huge step. Twenty-two years of experience seeing life through a shamanic lens and working with others has given me insights that feel right to pass along at this auspicious time. To celebrate Soul Intent Arts’ presence in this plane and this exceptional dance we’re doing toward this Winter Solstice, I’m closing this momentous year by listing my ten most poignant observations of personal shamanic work and maintaining a shamanic practice, and will present them over the next few days.

Thank you to all of the readers, clients, students, confidantes, comrades, and spaceholders who have contributed to Soul Intent Arts’ sustaining life force. Bless all of your dear hearts.

  • All creatures tend toward balance, wellbeing. There is no such thing as good or bad, only the disconnection from wellbeing. “Good and “bad” are value judgements based on perception. I encounter many energies that are imbalanced, what one might call dark entities, demons, suffering spirits, and just plain souls of sick people. I have run into some sticky situations, some flat out scary interactions. In all of these, I have never encountered an entity that did not on some level recognize connection to All Things, which implies a connection to light, love and compassion. Did I drag them all screaming toward that light when they rejected it? No. I’ve never been dragged toward a light that I instantly embraced, and I’ve never known others who have. It is not my role to interfere. It is my role to meet beings where they are, to embody as much of myself as I know myself to be in all my light and shadow, to present the spectrum of wellbeing that is available to us all, and to support the diverse paths we all take in reaching that balance. Other perspectives on how we reach healing are presented in To Heal or Not to Heal: Shamans in the New Era.

And one more, because I have never been good at math:

  • Karma is as karma does. I frequently run into the notions that karma is reward or punishment, and that it’s set for all eternity. My work has shown me that neither of those things is true. Karma is not a system of reward and punishment, but a law of balance. How you create yourself is the way you will be, and it is the way the world will form around you. We have the power to change our karma by releasing outdated patterns. Releasing patterns frees us to recreate ourselves. In this way, destiny and free will work together to create healing. Karma, Collective Conscious, and Facebook.