Excerpt From Survivor/Author Kelley Harrell
By Michele Rosenthal
Recently I did an e-interview with my colleague, Kelley Harrell, about her new book, GIFT OF THE DREAMTIME (GOTD), in which she chronicles a modern shamanic journey (her own) from pain, to healing and accepting a calling to work as a soul healer of others.
I’ve read GOTD as was struck by how deeply it explores the transformation from survivor to healer – and journey I think any of us can make, even if the only person we heal is ourselves.
Kelley agreed to let me share some of the GOTD with you in this excerpt….
Simon and Allusius keep dropping books, and I keep picking them up, filing them away in various body parts. When I put the books inside me, I know they settle into my chakras first. In my spine, a warm glow begins, then emanates throughout my body all the way to my fingertips and toes. I can’t read the books, but I wrote them. They tell me that I wrote them.
The books are leather bound, dusty, thick heavy pages that are handwritten, hand drawn images. Some are loose pages that waft from the sky, leaves from the heavens. They’re all vaguely familiar, but nothing I can identify. Every one of them is important, and I can’t read any of them.
Tough love guides, I have. Allusius and Simon are quick to offer comfort, protection, love. But they push me to my own conclusions. I ask them to help me iron out my wrinkles, they hand me a crumpled page. I ask them to teach me to read the books, I get a torn manuscript. I ask them to read the books to me, they leave me standing alone with pens and paper. I yell, scream, cry; a book falls from out of nowhere.
So I place the books in my body, knowing they’re mine to have, to keep, hoping to gain their insight. Yes, cosmic osmosis: diffusion of wisdom into a soul. How ironic that I’m a writer, and lately I can’t write even one word, string together a coherent thought, let alone a creative one. Then, in the Dreamtime, I can’t even read.
In waking, my head hurts too badly to read or write or much else. It’s hurt for nine months straight, and my doctors don’t know why or how to make it stop. It started about the time this goddess came in. I haven’t seen her much, but I feel her, the absent healing that she’s doing in my soul. In spite of her work, my body seems sicker. I keep thinking maybe the cure is in the books, and if I hold onto them long enough, the books will either hasten the healing this goddess brings me or I’ll figure out what they say.
I ask Simon what I need to do about the books and the headaches, and he says, “Leave your job.” He says it simply, in the true spirit of us lounging lazily against this log at the bottom of the dryad’s tree.
Would that spending all day leaning on this log talking with him afforded me the same life as my fairly well-paying position as a technical writer! This approach of reckless abandon is in keeping with the responses I’ve been getting from him about everything lately. I ask him if I’m in the career that will fulfill my life purpose, and I hear, shaman. I ask him what I should be doing, I hear shaman. How this relates to illness, books, and the resolution being to leave my job, I don’t know.
“I know you see the bigger picture, but I don’t, and I can’t just leave my job.” I roll my eyes, laugh casually, trying to ignore the ache in my chest, the knowledge that I’m supposed to be doing something more here. My stomach churns knowing that I’m not doing it.
“I have no big aspirations of wealth, but I would like to keep a roof over my head, and I need an income to do that.”
“I will provide,” he says, thoughtfully rubbing a blade of grass between his thumb and forefinger. He studies the blade intently. It’s the brightest of green, new, all the seasons ahead of it, but nothing really intriguing comes from my examination of it or of his fascination with it.
Pulling back from the distracting blade, I goad him. “But I don’t see how. How do I make that kind of transition? Just leap out of a job into some scattered pages of shamanism? If that’s providing, I’m going to have migraines for a long time.”
He stares at me intently, and my head throbs with the pain I’ve had for the last nine months.
“I don’t even feel safe journeying. The fevers I’ve had with the headaches and all the medicine I’ve taken have left me loopy, and I don’t even trust my own judgment right now, which means, I don’t trust my intuition, and that’s just a shortcut to depression.”
He focuses again on the blade in his fingers, his other hand absentmindedly plucking another from the ground. His gaze shifts to the new blade, unfazed by my rant.
“I grew up sick, on purpose, because sick meant safe. It meant home, and someone would finally look after me. I don’t feel safe right now, and I haven’t all these months, and frankly, it’s very comfortable. I can’t afford to go back to those ways now.”
Silently I beg him to speak to me, show me something, give me a feeling to know. His gaze merely goes from one blade of grass to the other.
“Simon, why now that I’ve made the conscious choice to heal myself and help other people has my body and my life fallen apart?”
He lays the blades casually back on the ground. “Where you are going, you can bring nothing with you.”
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 School. Click here to read more about Gift of the Dreamtime.