Writing Creatively With Spirit

A journey of psychic discovery


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The Way of the Shaman – The Basics – Page 2

I arrived for the first day of the course at the Amadeus Centre in Little Venice, West London on foot after a thirty five minute walk from my B&B. It had been a hot and sticky night, airless on the inside and too loud on the outside to open the windows. I hadn’t quite grasped that Kilburn High Road would be alive for so long after the witching hour.

The Amadeus Centre, West London

The Amadeus Centre, West London

By the time we were all seated in the large room there was a buzz of anticipation as people made contact with others who had made this journey (no pun intended) to learn about shamanism and shamanic practices.

The things we’d been asked to bring, a palm sized stone, a blindfold, a rug or cushion, pen and notebook, were all laid out beside us. (Well, I was sitting on my rug.)

When we were all seated Simon and his assistant Martha welcomed us. After the housekeeping arrangements were relayed Simon began by putting shamanism into context.

He said it was the ultimate democratic spirituality. There’s only you and spirit, no rule book to follow and no intermediary.

He paid tribute to the two people who had been highly influential in his understanding of and development as a shamanic practitioner, namely Carlos Castaneda and Michael Harner, and gave us a quick overview of shamanic

In all traditions where shamanism was practices.practiced (and this was world-wide before organise religions brutally squashed it, ridiculed it, or killed its masters) three things were consistent:

The Drum: 4-7 beats per second encourages the brain to move into theta waves, the state between sleeping and waking, where connection with spirit is most effective. Most spiritual practices such as meditation, chanting, and prayer are designed to help you reach this state. The drums have been proved to be the most effective at getting you there quickly.

The Voice – Is used to connect with spirit and with each other, particularly in healing when it can have a soothing and healing effect on the client.

The body – movement is an integral part of shamanic practice. Often the shaman will act out the journey he or she is undertaking on behalf of a client.

A shaman is someone who is able to move awareness from this reality into another to access information and bring it back into this one in order to heal or to provide guidance. A shaman works in partnership with spirit, and is able to make him or herself a ‘hollow bone’ or an ‘empty reed’ in order to allow spirit to work through them. A lot like trance mediumship. Indeed there was a lot of references throughout the workshop of similarities between the two forms of practice, with some small but significant differences. Mainly that a shaman would never interpret the metaphors of the journey s/he undertakes for the client, whereas spiritualist sometimes do.

He said a shaman is not a title one gives oneself, in the same way a hero would not call himself a hero. It is a title bestowed on one by others for the practitioner’s consistent ability to heal and to help.

He went on to say there are no rules as such in shamanism – the individual gets the direct revelation while speaking to spirit during a ‘journey’. This is in contrast to religions where the rules include all that is in the holy book and must be obeyed and carried out by all in the same way. Religions also require that other people interact with God on our behalf, i.e. the Pope.

A shaman’s map consists of three worlds: Upper, middle and lower. The upper and lower worlds exist as spiritual reality and it’s where the shaman journeys to find answers to questions, solutions to problems, or means to heal. The middle world is the reality as we know it.

A journey always involves an intention which is set prior to undertaking the journey. The nature of the intention will determine whether the shaman travels to the upper or lower world.

Spirit present primarily as animals or as humans because we are both. Animal spirits mainly, but not exclusively, inhabit the lower world, and humans mainly, but not exclusively, the upper world.

The shaman always travels from an axis mundi, i.e. a recognisable point on this earth. If travelling to the lower world it could be through the roots of a tree, down a rabbit hole, or in a lift. Journey to the upper world could be from the top of a mountain, a tree etc.

The final bit of information he gave us before our first journey was that a shaman engages all his or her attention with  intention. There’s no scope for thinking about what to cook for dinner, or what to wear for the work’s do.

With this we were taken into our first journey.

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Session 25 – Colour me shaman

8th March 2013 (Monday)

When Mary announced to the seven of us at today’s session that we’d be doing some work with colour, three of us burst out laughing, because we – that is me, Tim (yes he’s back) and another member of the group – had been discussing a colour personality test.

‘As you meditate focus on a colour, any colour that comes into your head. Try and settle on one colour,’ Mary instructed us.

DSC_0087Gold popped into my head, so too did a golden kite with blue bows tied on a long tail, and some other images that I couldn’t remember by the end of the meditation. I hate it when that happens. I’ve tried to focus on holding the images but when I drop back into the silence I lose them. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m meant to remember them I will.

We each gave quick feedback on how we experienced the meditation; some mentioned the colour they got others didn’t. As well as my gold there was electric blue, orange, violet and green.

‘Now you’re going to give each other readings based on the colour you got,’ Mary said as we picked crystals from her hands to find our partners. My dark green (jade I think) was matched by one of the men in the group, the same one who got the message for me to look more deeply into shamanism.

I was happy to be working with him because I thought it would give me an opportunity to give him an update on how far I’d got with the research. As it turned out he’s attended a number of shamanic events and had a lot of valuable information for me. Accidental pairing? I think not.

Anyway, back to the matter in hand. Mary gave us all a colour interpretation chart to kick start our readings.

‘Use the colour interpretation to get you into the reading, then listen to what else spirit want you to tell your partner,’ was her advice.

I got my reading first. Gold = learned physical commitment to their spiritual pathways/awareness.

He began by highlighting my commitment to this blog and the help it offers to others, then went on to talk about my writing generally and the way that will help many people around the world. (Seems like spirit are really hammering that one home.) He said that was only one part of my spiritual practice though and that healing will play a big part in my life.

PICT1104AHis colour was violet = A true spiritual person, perceptive, well-guarded (though has tended to be misunderstood), no ego person, which is a very accurate description of him. However, after I read this to him I saw in my minds eye a foot stepping over a doorstep and was thrown for a moment. It’s the first time that’s happened when I’ve been giving a reading.

‘Do you need to go somewhere?’ I asked, trying to make sense of the image. Before he could answer I realised that what he was being asked to do was step up, i.e. step up his spiritual practice. Then I heard all this stuff flying out of my mouth about how he has so much more to give but that he needs to start using what he has now, because spirit wants to use him in many other ways.

‘It’s like when you’re studying, before you can do you’re A-levels you have to complete your GCSE, before you can go on to do your degree you have to do you’re a-levels. ‘You’re going all the way to doctorate,’ I told him ‘but you have to start using what you’ve been given.’

When I came up for air I asked him if any of it made sense. He said he’d been meaning to step up his healing and readings and had been thinking about doing volunteer session at Oak House. After what I’d said, he was going to ask straight away – and he did – at the feedback. Well, knock me over with a feather!!!

After that Mary offered us a ‘philosophy’ or healing option. We decided we would just about have enough time for both.

‘The ‘Philosophy’ option involved each of us standing up at the front and being given a word on which we had to talk about something uplifting. Nothing like putting you on the spot, as we didn’t know what the word was until we were standing there. The idea was that spirit would speak through us to pass to the group what needed to be heard. Our part was to trust what came out of our mouths.

Given that most of the group are not public speakers, there were some surprisingly eloquent messages delivered.

We ended with a healing circle, where we brought down white healing light and used it for all who needs healing. Oak House has a healing book into which the names of those who have asked for healing are entered. We also added names of people we knew who would benefit from healing.

During our closing prayer, which was being done by a member who hasn’t been for a few weeks, she went into a trance like state, where her words changed for ‘I’ to ‘we’. What I mean is, it’s as if someone was speaking through her, a bit like when Zoe does the trance work, but without the voice change. This member had also had another big breakthrough, as something similar had happened while she was doing the reading with her partner. She was being shown many things about him that she had no way of knowing.

Boy, I love it when this kind of thing happens. Just goes to show we’re not as in control as we think we are.

Please feel free to comment on anything. Have you ever had the experience of starting speaking as you and ending in that trance-like state? If you do reading, how do you get your images, and do they always mean the same thing?

 


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Session 23 – African princess and Shamans

25th March 2013 (Monday)

Tim is still sick. A virus laid him low and he’s struggling to get up, so I headed to Oak House on my own again.

‘Have you done something to upset him?’ Mary enquired jokingly.

‘Only if I’d been the bringer of the virus,’ I replied.

PICT2186There were eight of us including Mary and Zoe. Although present Zoe was not taking the circle as she’s also not well, and needed to slip out to make a call half way through the meeting.

The usual opening prayer was said and Mary checked with us whether we were happy with the format of the circle. Currently we have a mix of short meditations and skills development with the various props she introduces to us. An alternative would be to have longer meditations, focussing more on connecting with our guides, and giving messages from a more mediumistic perspective.

About half the group were in favour of the current format, a few (including me) favoured  a mix of alternating week skills and meditation, and others an occasional long meditation.

Given that there seem to be a clear consensus that meditation is the only way to really build and maintain connection with spirit, I can see that at some stage I’ll have to find a group where that’s the focus. For now I’m happy to develop the psychic skills because they are becoming increasingly useful. (I did a reading for my friend at the weekend, which she found very helpful, and one for another friend last week – also helpful). In the meantime I’ve begun meditating at home, managing up to an hour most days.

The most immediate effect has not been more messages but more peace and calm. My dramas are very short-lived, and my sleep is long and undisturbed. I shared my meditative practice with the group.

‘Did you get anything?’ someone asked.

‘For the whole hour I sat today the only thing I got was a pair of pink baby bootees,’ I answered, trying unsuccessfully to disguise my disappointment.

‘Oh, my daughter must be having a girl then,’ one of the member whose daughter’s pregnant said joyously.

It hadn’t occurred to me that it could have had anything to do with anyone in the group, though in truth it didn’t make any sense in my life.

‘OK. Our first activity today is going to be a silent meditation,’ Mary announced. ‘No guidance, just go into the silence and see what you get. About 15-20 minutes. Shall we do it with or without music?’

‘I guess if it’s silent then it should be without music,’ someone suggested, and we all agreed.

It seemed odd listening to the noises at first, the ticking clocks, the birds, the dogs scurrying on the laminate floor on the other side of the door. But as I went deeper the sounds disappeared and I had a thought of Hurricane Herbie.

‘Must remember the name Herbie,’ I reminded myself. Then I asked for a message for one of the group just to see what I’d get, and saw a plate of cooked rice, and a message, put the baby on solids.

I then drifted in that space where I cease to be me, where my body loses all form and I connect with and become the air around me. This only happens when I meditate frequently, and I always wonder why I forget to meditate frequently. In this space everything ceased and I didn’t get any messages, at least not ones I remembered when I came round.

At feedback no-one could take Herbie, and I got cold feet about telling the person I’d got the message for that I thought it was about putting the baby on solids, because I wasn’t sure if the baby I’d seen him with was his, and I didn’t want to appear foolish. So I listened to others trying to make sense of what the rice might mean for me. Even when someone told a story of how important it is to give a message as you get it I held back. I hope the person reads this as we don’t meet for another couple of weeks due to the Easter break.

Interestingly he had a message for me, or rather two. (1) He saw an African princess all dressed up in her fineries being made a fuss of. (2) He saw someone pointing at a book as if to say look in there, and heard the word Shamanism. He wondered whether I need to be researching Shamanism or working with it.

I told the group about my recent attempts to find my African roots and joked that maybe I’m royalty, that I’m really a princess. I also told him that a friend of mine had gone to a Shaman’s day yesterday and we had talked about it, so maybe the message was for her. (When I told her she quickly dismissed it and said the message was definitely for me – I need to look in to Shamanism). It’s not an area I’m particularly interested in.

‘But then you were never particularly interested in mediumship either,’ she reminded me.

Our next exercise was reading photographs, an exercise we did once before in this circle and also in the Thursday one. There were varying degrees of success, and we ended with another trance demonstration from Zoe to gain some words of wisdom from her guide.

It took her a little longer than usual to totally connect with her guide, (maybe because she was a little unwell) and as I watched I marvelled at how quickly this had become common-place to me.

As usual her guide thanked us for being willing to work with them and gave us encouragement to keep adhering to the practices that opens the channels to their communication with us.

After the Easter break I’ll only be going to alternate Monday circle and alternate Thursday ones, and I shall miss seeing members of the group weekly. There is a real closeness in the group and I feel very supported. Any fear or apprehension about looking foolish is in my own head, this is a very supportive place to be.

Are there any practising Shamans out there? How did you get involved? Would you recommend it?


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Session 16 – More trance and Story Cubes

February 28th 2013 (Thursday)

I was very early tonight and had a chance to have a chat with Greg before the others arrived. I wanted to share with him the sensation I have when I sit down to write; when I sit staring at the flipchart paper on which I’ve sketched a story, or the pieces of paper on which I’ve sketched characters. How I can stare at them for ages before I make a connection with the characters. Usually the first characters I get are the ones in whose voices the story will be told.

First flowers coming through in Rookery Park

First flowers coming through in Rookery Park

It’s exactly the same feeling I get in meditation when I connect with the energy of the group, or when I drop into the timeless zone of spirit. Once I get that feeling I know the words will flow, and very often they will flow in a way I hadn’t planned. He said I’m quite possibly connecting with the spirits whose story I’m telling. There’s resonance in this for me.

By the time everyone had arrived there were two new women. One who visited the Monday circle once, and an Asian woman invited by the black one who came last week. Interestingly, apart from Greg all eleven of us were women. He welcomed everyone and announced that Ann would be joining us later for a trance demonstration.

‘We’ll begin with a meditation to get us nice and relaxed.’ He said.

With closed eyes he instructed us to breathe deeply.

‘There’s a ball of light above your head,’ he said. ‘Bring the ball of light down through your body, lighting every cell. Ask your guides known and new to draw close.’

As he said this I felt a wave of cold spread from my toes up to my thighs. This despite the fact I was sitting as close as it’s possible to get to the radiator and was perfectly warm and toasty prior to that. In my head I silently asked my guides if they wouldn’t mind bringing a bit of heat with them. Not one of them responded, and I remained cold throughout the whole session. I sat with my jacket draped over my legs.

During the feedback when I told the group of my experience, Greg said most people first experience the presence of spirit as cold on their legs. I made a mental note.

About half the group had great images and messages from their guides, the other half just felt relaxed.

Our activity for the night was using story cubes to give readings. Story cubes are small dice shaped cubes with pictures etched into each face. There are nine of them in the pack, and they’re used to develop creative writing and story telling.

Greg demonstrated how to use them to give a reading. For speed he used only three of the cubes. It’s very similar to doing a three card reading. We then had to work in pairs to do readings for each other.

My three pictures were a book, a magnifying glass and a symbol that my partner initially thought were the wings of a mythical bird. She thought the meaning was that I should look into writing Harry Potter type books. The magnifying glass could also mean looking deeply within, self-examination. It all made sense. So too did the alternative interpretation when Greg pointed out that the wings were actually a fire.

One of the symbolism of fire is purification. In the morning I’d got yellow from my colour set of cards =  purify the body, and the frog from the animal set = purification. Purification of the body’s been a consistent message for weeks now. So much so that I’ve changed my diet, become vegetarian, and now working toward being vegan. I say working toward because I found myself buying a bag of Thornton’s Special Toffee the other day. And they were soooo delicious.

Anyway, back to the circle. I then did a reading for my partner. She had a bee, a sheep, and what looked like a jester with a small child on the end of one of his feet. I interpreted it as needing more sweetness in life (bees=honey) and not being afraid to go out on a limb with a project (don’t be a sheep), that she’d probably be getting a gentle push to go out there (jester kicking child away). The project thing resonated with her.

I instantly saw a use for these cubes in international creative writing workshops, and ordered a set as soon as I got home. There’s a big assumption here that I’m going to be running such workshops. You read it here first.

Next we had Ann do a trance demonstration for us. I was sitting next to her, and although I had my eyes closed I felt a surge of energy as her guide arrived.

Now, I’m conscious here that in a few short weeks I’m saying things that were just a mystery to me not so long ago – surges of energy indeed.

Anyway, her guide’s message was very similar in nature to his others. He thanked us for being willing to work with spirit, encouraged us to meditate often and aim to live an honest and authentic life. He told us that we are spiritual being in a body, that we should care for it, but know that when we’ve learned all we need to in this incarnation, it will fall away. What’s important while we’re here is to take the lessons from every situation we encounter, good or bad. It’s all of our creation to learn the lessons we came for.

When she’d finished we had a discussion about the different levels of trance which range from very light trance where the medium is aware of what is being said, to the medium allowing his/her body to be totally taken over by spirit and as such is not at all aware of what is being said or done to them. In some cases they can be so deep in trance that if you stuck pins in them they wouldn’t feel it. Oak House once had such a practitioner, and there are many tales told about him.

The issue of whether ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ spirits could take over the body in such a state came up. Again there were two schools of thought, those that think yes and those that think no. Greg explained that like attract like, if you remain positive you will only attract positive spirits. I added my two pennies worth by saying I believe that the best form of protection is working in the energy of love. Nothing negative can permeate it.

Our final exercise was to get messages for someone in the room. As I focused on the person I was tying to get a message for I got a tingling in my ear, then saw green fields, and the words ‘make your decision from the heart’ popped into my head. Again there was a high level of accuracy during the feedback session.

When I checked with the person that  I’d got the message for if she’d got issues with her ears she nodded vigorously, even touched the same side of her ear as my tingling one. She didn’t know what I meant by ‘make a decision from the heart’ and decided she needed to think about the green fields some more as someone else had also seen that for her.

Interestingly, no one got any messages for me. Only two of us didn’t get messages while some got multiples.

In all honesty things have been moving so quickly it was a relief to have nothing extra to go home with tonight.


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Zoe and me at home

Zoe, the trance specialist from the Monday circle, came to see me for a spot of public speaking coaching. This was in response to the many messages she’s received about doing platform work.

Crotons. Just wanted to brighten up this post on a cold and grey day.

Crotons. Just wanted to brighten up this post on a cold and grey day.

On entering my lounge she said it reminded her of one in the home of a specialist surgeon she’d been to visit some years ago, and suggested that maybe I was going to become a specialist in something.

In the course of the hour, in which we looked at physical and vocal presentation, we also exchanged some details about our respective journeys that lead to our meeting a few weeks ago. About half an hour into the session she looked at me and said, ‘I’ve just seen a picture of a globe. You’re holding it in your hands.’

‘Oh my God!’ I said taken aback, ‘that’s the third time.’

‘What’s the third time?’ she enquired.

‘That I’ve been told about a globe.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. Once in November in a reading, and on Monday in the reading with Mike. Both times a woman was holding a globe.’

‘Well, well, well,’ she said, ‘and here it is again. Only it’s not just an ordinary globe. It’s one of those with a light inside. It’s like your lighting up the world.’

That’s when she told me she’d been told that she’d be travelling the world and jokingly said, ‘maybe we’ll be doing it together.’

I told her about my thoughts on trance mediumship, and she offered to help me with understanding symbolism. In return I offered to help her put a book together of her extraordinary journey so far, and told her that she reminded me of Betty Shine. She’d never heard of Betty Shine but pondered on the fact she has a sister called Betty. I said, (getting into the swing of things), that maybe her sister was telling her to shine her light from the platform.

It’s only as I write this, nearly twenty four hours later, that it’s suddenly occurred to me that I too have a sister called Betty, and maybe she too could be telling me to shine my light across the world. Yes, I’ve laughed out loud. Oh how we can’t often see our own messages. I’m more than ever understanding that the messages come in a whole variety of ways, which is why understanding symbolism is so important.

I have a feeling Zoe and I will be doing more work together. She’s even suggested that we attend a course at ArthurFindlayCollege. Now THAT would be a step in a very definite direction.


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Do mediums really need guides?

Tuesday 12th February 2013

Today I went for a colonic hydrotherapy treatment. The therapist turned out to be a trance medium who had practiced for over ten years. (How random – (or otherwise) is that). I shared with her my concerns about not being able to contact my guide(s).

From Brendan's holiday in   Egypt

From Brendan’s holiday in
Egypt

She had an interesting take on it. She said that if my energy was already vibrating at a high level that I was already connected to my higher self, to spirit as it were, and that I didn’t need an intermediary.

She said most people who have a guide use the guide (which they have conjured up anyway, as we create all things in our lives) as a means of talking to their higher selves because they don’t yet know or trust that they can do it themselves. Quite often these people lack confidence and use the guide very much like a child uses an imaginary friend.

She suggested that whatever other spiritual practices I’ve been engaged in have brought me to accept that we are all one, all connected to each other and to all of the universe, to past, present and future and therefore there’s no need of a separate guide.

I’d really welcome some thoughts on this.


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Session 11 – Trance, trance and more guides

February 11th 2013 (Monday)

I’ll cut to the chase. No preamble about Tim’s lateness or my mental note to drive next week.

Candles, crystals and charaks

Candles, crystals and chakras

Zoe was back, and she facilitated the circle. She’d laid out a large purple cloth on which were candles, crystals and seven pieces of paper representing the chakras. After the opening prayer she explained that we would be contacting our guides though meditation and later doing some work with photographs.

The instruction was to meditate for fifteen minutes with the intention of contacting our guides. She explained for Tim’s sake how to open up the chakras, and, to the sound of quiet music we invited our guides to draw near.

I got nothing. No one even came close. No little old lady, no Native American, no ancient African warrior. Not a bean, nil, zero, zilch. Other people got stuff. Either discovered new guides or reconnected with their established ones. Even Tim got someone who he thought could be a guide.

In the following meditation she asked us to think about someone in the group we would like to get a message for, and also to be aware that our guides often speak to us through an intermediary. At that instant my phone which I’d put on silent began to vibrate. I made a mental note to check who it was when the meditation finished. She also asked us to open our eyes when we got something.

I set the intention to get a message for Sam who was sitting opposite me. Well, I must have been there for ten whole minutes getting absolutely nothing, when my mind began drifting to the magenta card I’d got earlier, and I was reflecting on how often I pull it, or it fell out the pack at me. Then the name Petra popped into my head and I focused on it for a while, happy that at least that something had come that had nothing to do with me, as I don’t know a Petra. I went back to focusing on the magenta card and had a vague sense of something to do sleeplessness, but no more guidance than that.

I was still waiting for something profound to happen when Zoe asked me to open my eyes, and I realised that everyone else had already opened theirs. I felt like the dunce in the class. When it came to feedback time she skipped over me as we went round the circle. People got amazing messages for each other. Incidentally no-one got a message for me. She came back to me last.

‘Well, I didn’t really get much.’ I hesitated.

‘I guessed as much as you didn’t open your eyes. That’s why I left you till last,’ she admitted, deepening my sense of uselessness.

‘Did you get anything at all?’

‘I got the name Petra.’ I said, hoping someone would leap up and say, ‘I can take that,’ and tell some fantastic story associated with the name. But everyone just looked at me blankly.

‘I also kept getting a lot of magenta,’ I said, and scanned the group for a take up. Again nothing. I didn’t add that what I was actually seeing wasn’t diffused magenta like some others have described, but specifically the card from the pack which also has the words ‘connect to you deepest inner knowing’ written on it.

I was losing confidence rapidly by now and muttered something about lack of sleep’. Zoe was about to move on when from out of nowhere I turned to Sam and said, ‘Have you been having difficulty sleeping?’

BINGO!

‘I have terrible trouble sleeping,’ he said. ‘Either I can’t get to sleep or I wake up in the early hours of the morning and can’t go back to sleep.’

‘What do you do when that happens?’ I asked, like I was some expert on insomnia.

‘Make a drink of coffee,’ he answered to horrified gasps, ‘or I read a book or watch a bit of tele.’

Once we got past the general advice from everyone about how bad coffee is if you want to sleep, I heard myself telling him that what spirit wants him to do is meditate. That the reason he can’t sleep is because he needs to go and connect with his inner guidance, his inner knowing.’

‘I’m terrible at meditating,’ he protested.

‘How about if you re-phrase that and say ‘I’m improving my meditating skills every day?’ I asked, recognising that he was perpetuating an unhelpful view of himself and therefore keeping himself there.

‘But I can’t do anymore than about five minutes when I’m on my own,’ he insisgted.

‘Well, that’s a start. If the next time you do six minutes you have improved. Congratulate yourself and affirm that you’re improving all the time.’

‘See, you did get something after all.’ Mary said, and I relaxed a little.

As Zoe began to explain about how to read from photographs I sat back and marvelled at the way spirit works. I had all but convinced myself that what I was picking up was useless bits of information and when it hadn’t made sense I was prepared to discard it. I guess that’s how some mediums must feel when they ask a sitter if something makes sense and they say ‘no’.

The photo reading exercise was of a real live couple. We were initially given no more than that. The photo was passed around and we were asked to ‘tune in’ and using all our senses try to pick up anything we could from the picture about the two people.

Some people picked up that the man was ill, which Mary confirmed. Others elaborated on the extent of his illness and made suggestions on how long he had to live, still others talked about the lack of closeness between the two, some talked about their characters and the way if affects their relationship. Tim is a natural at this, and seems to have the confidence to say what he’s picking up, usually prefixed with ‘I’m new to all this…’

After about six people had had a go, Mary (who was acting as a participant as Zoe was running the circle) asked us to think about the future for the woman.

I was last but one to get the photo. As soon as I held it I got a strong pulsing pain in the front of my head. My throat became very tight and tickly and I had to reach for a glass of water to soothe the coughs that were bubbling up.

‘Does this woman suffer from headaches?’ I asked.

‘She used to suffer from terrible migraines.’ Mary answered, ‘but not any more.’

I knew intuitively that the pain in my head wasn’t associated with the past. It was definitely located in the future as that’s what Mary had asked us to think about.

‘I think when the man dies her migraines will return, but they won’t be as prolonged as previously. She will get them under control reasonably quickly, but they will be very intense for a while.’

My attention moved to my throat, and I knew that there was creativity she’s been suppressing that will find an outlet when the man dies. I already knew she was a painter from information that came out earlier, but the word writer came into my head. I wanted to say she will write, but I wondered weather I was thinking that because I’m a writer, so I asked instead, ‘Is there something she wants to do creatively that she’s not doing now?’

‘Well, she wants to try her hand at singing,’ Mary said.

‘That’s it,’ I said eagerly, relieved that I’d got something else right.

‘But what she really wants to do is to write,’ she added.

I couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t I go with what I got? Why do I keep censoring it? I shared my original thought and asked the question out loud.

‘Why do I censor?’

‘Because you don’t trust it yet,’ Zoe suggested, ‘at the moment you still think its you, and nobody wants to make a fool of themselves. But that’s what the circle is here for. To help you build your confidence. It will come with practice.’

We closed with another trance demonstration from Zoe. Again the altered breathing, the turkey neck movements and the same male voice as last time, slow, measured, precise. He thanked us again for agreeing to help in this way and warned us about the dangers of going off too quickly before our skills are properly developed. He said there is much healing that we can do but that humility and patience are vital qualities to enable us to serve safely.

And the person who had called me during the meditation was… my husband.