Soul Stories, Kelley Harrell

Soul Stories

I’ve always been what folx would describe as dissociative. I trip into other worlds of my own creation very easily, and often. This has been the case since I realized I existed. It’s a great skill to have as a creative, and as a soul tending person. I’ve learned that it looks very different to healthcare professionals and grind culture. I, myself, would even describe these states as fugue-like, except that I’ve always understood they existed in a layer of being different from that of formed being, yet not full-on Other. 

And I’ve always known they are real.

They are not the same as soul travel spaces, though I imagine they are in a near neighborhood. 

Years back, as I delved into my own soul mending, I questioned my Allies about my tendency to drift in and out of the imaginal. Part of me was afraid they would affirm these experiences as divisive of who I am and was striving to be, and tell me that I should temper them. Part of me was afraid the depth to which I could travel out left me vulnerable to theft of my power. Yet another part of me was completely at ease with the whole thing and felt completely aligned with it. I remember one of my Allies at the time told me these were “soul stories,” in which I was learning to be the fully integrated Self, that I was embodied by the stories, that I was healing through them. The stories were real, they were me, and they were part of an evolving experience that stemmed well Beyond.

I understand now that as long as I’m not engaging soul stories to escape form, they continue to profoundly shape my sense of Self.

Sharon Blackie wrote this recently, and I loved how she pulled thoughts on the imaginal together:

The imaginal world is the world of psyche – of soul. It’s the place where archetypes live and where stories are born. It’s the source of synchronicities, of creative insights; it penetrates into our dreams and visionary experiences. It communicates itself to us through images, so that the act of imagining (and an active engagement is required, quite different from more passive activities like day-dreaming) then becomes an act of connection to it. When we hear the wind singing to us, when a story stops us in our tracks, when we dream a Big Dream or pick the same symbolic tarot card three times in a row, then we are piercing the veil and seeing into the imaginal world. This, according to James Hillman, amounts to ‘seeing with the eye of the soul into the soul of the world’. A key task of psychology, he wrote, is ‘to hear psyche speaking through all the things of the world, thereby recovering the world as a place of soul.’ The world, to quote the English poet John Keats, then becomes ‘a vale of soul-making’. And this is why imaginal work matters: because it builds soul.

What are you creating in your imaginal spaces? How does it feed your soul?

Inviting the Runes Equinox Ceremony

There’s still time to join me in seasonal ceremony to honor our successes and bless them forward to our comunities. I will be hosting Intiving the Runes, an art–making- inspired ceremony for Spring Equinox, based on the Ostara initiation in Runic Book of Days. You watch my overview video about the ceremony, and another one about the art I’m focusing on for our time together.

This event is donation-only, and you will receive a downloadable handout when you register. The handout contains a private ritual experience to complete prior to the ceremony on 17 March at 11am EST. While together we will make an artistic rendering of our dreams for Spring, for ourselves, and how our dreams bless our community. Please join us, and let’s have some fun together.


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S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.

I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula. For the last 25+ years, through Soul Intent Arts I’ve helped others to ethically build thriving spiritual paths as fit, embodied elders, who upon death become wise, capable Ancestors. My work is Nature-based, and focuses soul tending through the Elder Futhark runes, animism, ancestral healing, and deathwork. I’m author of Runic Book of Days, and I host the podcast, What in the Wyrd. I also write The Weekly Rune as a celebration of the Elder Futhark in season. Full bio.

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elder well, die well, ancestor well


We don't heal

In isolation, but in community