Tag: interview

Author S. Kelley Harrell on writing, life, and shamanism

A bit back I had the pleasure of being interviewed by David Garlow of the Examiner.com. Here’s a reprise if you missed it:

With all of the writing groups that writers take part in you are bound to see subjects of every type come across your screen. It is how we all connect, interact, and help be it through promoting, beta reading, and feedback on ideas or paragraphs, even a simple sentence. Within these I could not help but notice Kelley Harrell for her subject, personality, and approachability. Believe me, not all writers are that approachable; I compare it to a gamers group or even a music scene with competition, some prima donna egos, you know; like anything else.

Kelley has some rich and deep subjects that she tackles in a unique way and that more than anything is what made me look closer. I found someone with a vibrant personality, in touch with the universe around her, and whose work is truly impressive. From her own Bio:

Kelley is best known for publishing shamanic memoir, spiritual nonfiction, and magickal realism. She also writes for The Huffington Post, and has maintained the blog Intentional Insights – Q&A From Within, since 2004. Her work has been published in Innerchange Magazine, Mystic Pop, SageWoman, The Beltane Papers, Women Writers, Women, Books, Savvy Authors, If… a Journal of Spiritual Exploration, OmPlace AltWire, Astro Abby.

Author S. Kelley Harrell

Poetry collections featuring her work include Chiron Review, The Blotter, Bottom Line Writers, Charlotte Writer’s Circle. Her short stories have been featured in The Windhover, The Olive Leaf.

Take a few moments to get to know more about this wonderful woman and all that she does, it really is quite impressive.

Interview with author S. Kelley Harrell

So the first question is when did you fall in love with writing; what was the catalyst for you?

I don’t recall not being in love with writing. Before I learned the alphabet, my mother transcribed stories I dictated to her. Learning to write was my gateway drug to life. I loved it—the feel of the pen in my hand, the evidence of my brain on paper, how it all fit together to form a cohesive movement. I just loved it from the beginning, and I still do.

I know a lot of writers write for several outlets beyond books, what other outlets do you work?

I have kept a blog for 9 years, Intentional Insights – Q&A From Within, responding to inquiries readers have about paranormal events in their lives, dreams, modern shamanism and animism. I also write a modern spirituality column for the Huffington Post, and I publish fiction under another name.

What genre(s) do you normally work in and why?

I am best known for shamanic memoir, though I also write nonfiction spirituality books, New Adult Magickal Realism, and all sorts of fiction. I’m just in love with writing. It’s another sense to me, so I filter as much expression through it as I possibly can.

How did you get started and were there any frustrations? How did you get beyond those?

The first book I submitted for publication was Gift of the Dreamtime, almost 10 years ago. At that time, no one was writing about modern shamanism, certainly not from within the ecstatic trance perspective. Everything you read on shamanism then was academic anthropology, fiction, or nonfictional accounts of what shamanism was like. My book was the first to show how the shamanic narrative (healing story) works from inside, making the reader part of the soul travel, thus healing.

At that time, publishers wanted anything shamanic to be shaped into a self-help book, following the recipe of personal story, universal conclusions drawn from that experience, followed by end-of-chapter exercises for the reader to journey along. To do that would have entirely changed the format and writing of my book, let alone that fantastic vantage point within trance. It took me a while to find a publisher who got what I was doing, and my life hasn’t been the same since!

What are your works thus far and where can people find them?

  • Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma
  • Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World
  • Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion

What is forthcoming and can you give a brief description?

I have a few nonfiction projects in the works. One is a collection of healing stories by female survivors of assault. I’m in the final stages of writing a memoir of shamanic techniques in working with chronic health conditions, and am mid-way through a comprehensive book on modern shamanism. I’ve also completed and am seeking a home for my first novel, The Last Snow Moon.

I have learned that the literary world can be quite cutthroat; what advice would you give to a person trying to find a way to publish their work?

Do what’s right for you, period. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to, but you know you need to. Things you don’t want to do aren’t the same as what doesn’t support your truth. Knowing that difference can take you a long way. Go with what’s right for you. It’s always the best path in the end.


Celebrate the Small Things – Gratitude

Small Things Photo credit: Shermeee / Foter.com / CC BYFor 9 years, I’ve been very careful to keep my blog focused on animistic and shamanistic content, and within those parameters what inspires, what sustains, what empowers. With that in mind, I’ve decided to participate in a weekly ritual with others, to celebrate otherwise small unsung accomplishments in my life.

I’m not very good at priding myself on anything, a trait upon which I’d like to improve. I’m also not as good about ceremony. I tend to keep things low key. With that in mind, every Friday myself and the other participants in this contagion of victory will spread the message of small successes. I hope that by undertaking this public personal endeavor you will learn more about me, and also be moved to realize the victories in your life, particularly the small ones that you would usually overlook.

This week has been a doozy, though I suppose they all are in some way.  My small victories this week are getting caught up on articles that needed to be written for others, having an article troubleshooting modern shamanic journeying come out in Circle Magazine (Issue 113), getting —->this close <— to finishing the first draft of my current manuscript, got a request for an interview.  A wild and unexpected development is that the Weekly Rune column was picked up by the Huffington Post. Also, I started working out regularly this week.  Finally, opening this blog to be more personal. Good things, all around.

What are you grateful for this week? How will you show thanks?

This post is part of VikLit‘s blog hop, Celebrate the Small ThingsParticipate by following the link and adding your name to the Linky list, then post your gratitude every Friday.  Easiest blog hop ever!

Click here to hop on… the hop, and thanks for coming with me on this journey of self-empowerment.

Michele Rosenthal of Your Life After Trauma on Gift of the Dreamtime

Recently the wonderful Michele Rosenthal interviewed me on the re-release of Gift of the Dreamtime.  If you’re not familiar with her work, check out her radio show, blog, and book Before the World Intruded.


My friend, colleague and survivor-sister, Kelley Harrell, has a new book out entitled GIFT OF THE DREAMTIME (GOTD). It’s a terrific read and a very compelling look into one way that we can access healing potential.

I asked Kelley to answer some questions about the book so I could share it with you….

1. What is GOTD about?

Gift of the Dreamtime is about my experience of spiritual emergency, from childhood through young adulthood, until I sought the help of a shaman to release it.  “Spiritual emergency” is a state in which consciousness is expanding at a rate or in a way that is not readily emotionally processed.  It is a state of PTSD on a soul level.

At the time, I was just seeking healing for myself.  I had held an animistic life perspective, connected with my spirit guides, and embraced shamanism as a way to heal myself, but I hadn’t planned to work as a shaman with others.  The book describes how I moved through various levels of awareness of myself, to embrace facilitating healing for others.

2. What inspired you to write this story?

I always knew that I would write about my experiences as a survivor of childhood incest, though every time I sat down to write, it just never felt right.  Approaching it in a dry, autobiographical way somehow flattened the experience.  I didn’t know how to approach it in a way that wasn’t clichéd or sentimental.

In the spring of 2001 I had a dream, which occurs around Chapter Ten in the book, and that dream jarred my vision of how to write about my experience:  from the inside.  I realized I wasn’t to write about the experience of my life in the mundane, but in how I experienced the Dreamtime, or spirit worlds.

At that point in the industry, books on shamanism were very academic and anthropological.  They described what I call “rearview shamanism,” as something only ancient or indigenous cultures did, not a practice actively growing in modern lives.  As well, self-help books followed the same formula:  memoir-interpretation-introspective questions for the reader.  I didn’t want to write either of those styles, because they weren’t the way shamanism worked for me.  I didn’t want to describe my experience to the reader, I wanted to offer an experiential invitation to the reader.  Animism is the belief that all things have a soul.  I didn’t want to write my life story; I wanted to write the story of my soul.

3. GOTD is your personal journey.  How did writing it influence and/or affect your path?

Through the book I’ve gotten to meet people all over the world.  As I never planned to work as a shaman, I also never planned to keep writing autobiographical works.  Many of my clients met me through the book.  After it came out, many opportunities opened to me to publish and sustain the momentum of writing my soul’s story.  Primarily, I started my blog, Intentional Insights, which answers reader’s questions on shamanism, paranormal experiences, and modern spiritual paths.  Gift of the Dreamtime has given me many opportunities, that I didn’t have before.

4. What do you think is most important to believe as one seeks to heal from trauma?

We have to remember our true selves, the part of us that no matter what happens, happened or will ever happen, is untouched and empowered.  That’s a very charged, difficult to hold concept for someone who is experiencing PTSD, particularly when victimization is involved.  Yet, there it is.  Reconnecting with that core self is everything.

5. What do you think it’s most important to do in order to find your strongest inner guide?

The most important thing to do to connect with your authentic self is to remind yourself to do so.  We forget that it’s there, or we think of it once then assume all’s well.  This is where mindfulness and spiritual practice meet.  This is the “practice” part of spirituality.  We are responsible for reminding ourselves of our divinity, and through the power of our minds, we will start to remember.  The reminding becomes easier, then does everything else.  When we realize our connection to our true selves, hearing its voice behind everything we do becomes easier.

6. What do you hope readers will learn from GOTD?

I hope they will learn that they can rise from their ashes and be powerful.  Our culture teaches us to be wounded, and talks about thriving in the wound.  We have to move beyond the wound.  We have to commit to finding our truths, even if that means letting go of beliefs or thoughts that don’t serve us.  I hope that my book imparts insights for how to look beyond what we perceive ourselves to be and find something even greater.

To read an excerpt from GIFT OF THE DREAMTIME, click here.

Kelley Harrell is a neoshaman and author in North Carolina. She has been on a shamanic path since 1988, and since 2000 has served her local community and an international client base. Her book, Gift of the Dreamtime: Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma, chronicles her pivotal step into the role of modern shaman. To support her shamanic work, she draws on energy work, hypnotherapy, and flower essences. A modern Druid, Kelley is an ordained interfaith minister. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity. Kelley writes for several publications, including the Global Goddess Oracle and The Huffington Post, and has been published in many journals and anthologies. Her shamanic practice is Soul Intent Arts, and a major focus of her work is helping modern intuitives assimilate spiritual emergency through private sessions and mentorship in The Tribe of the Modern Mystic Mystery SchoolClick here to read more about Gift of the Dreamtime.

Originally published at Your Life After Trauma.