Aunt Julie

pink flowers

Twenty-nine years ago this summer I was decorating my first apartment.   Hamilton and I were engaged and we added an apartment above his shop for our first home.   We lived there for nine years, it was rent-free which allowed me to finish school and stay home with my babies.   We only needed one car because Hamilton just walked downstairs to work.   After we moved to town the apartment was continuously occupied by family members, friends and employees, giving them a rent-free space to live.   Now we are back on the farm and want to use the apartment as office and guest space but the interior is pretty tired so I’m in the process of renovating.

As I am back in the space for the first time in 20 years memories of that time of my life have come flooding back, almost like watching a movie.   As I started to take down the 80’s wallpaper I thought of Aunt Julie.   Hamilton’s cousin Tony built the apartment and his Aunt Julie offered to teach me to wallpaper the bathroom.    I was so excited to make my little place as cute as possible.

Over the years I would periodically call Aunt Julie.  There were many times I needed her gentle support.  As in most families, I have a couple of close relatives who can be very difficult.  Aunt Julie was the one person who really understood.   We never talked badly about anyone but I knew she knew what I was going through.  I just needed to be reassured that although there was nothing that could be done someone saw me.

Around this same time I was student teaching.   I had a very difficult supervising teacher who was not allowed another student teacher after me.  Those were hard days,  I came home to my only friend, General Hospital on the VCR.   Every day I would take a few students to a reading specialist named Karen.  She was always kind and went out of her way to speak to me.  We never spoke of my difficult teacher but once again I knew that she knew.   Yet again someone saw me.   That was all I needed to soldier on.

I’m so glad to have these memories of kind women who helped a young twentysomething negotiate tough interpersonal relationships, not by advice but by just simply being there. I hope that I have passed on this kindness to someone else.   Please thank a friend or relative that has done that for you.  Aunt Julie has passed on but this week I’m remembering to say a prayer for her and her sweet kindness.


1980’s wallpaper on the way to the trash



Sekhmet at Kom Ombo

Five years ago today I stood face to face with the mighty Egyptian goddess Sekhmet.  It is quite a story and I think I’m finally ready to tell it.   This weekend is the third anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution and it was Sekhmet that got me a front row seat.  So let’s start with Sekhmet’s story.

The people of the Earth were acting up so the sun god Ra sent the lionheaded goddess Sekhmet to get everyone back in line.    Sekhmet got a little out of hand killing way too many people and so Ra had to figure out a way to stop her.   He laced some beer with drugs and red food coloring then poured it on the ground.   Sekhmet, thinking it was blood, drank the potion and finally stopped her rampage.    She retains her reputation for power and revenge.   Yikes!!

I was getting ready to go to Egypt for the first time when my teacher Page Bryant came to me with an assignment.   “Every full and new moon between 7 and 9 pm, find a quiet place and light a candle and tune into the energy of Sekhmet.”    My first reaction was “Aaaahhhhh,  Sekhmet is mean.  Can’t I have a nice goddess like Hathor or Isis?”    But when Page tells me to do something, I always listen and so for six months I worked on my assignment.   Sometimes I felt her energy and sometimes it was just a nice quiet time, but I did it faithfully.  The month before the trip I decided to look at the moon stages during my time in Egypt.  A new moon and solar eclipse fell on the day we were going to Sekhmet’s chapel at Karnak Temple.  I knew something was up.   This was no accident.

By the time I made it to Karnak Temple in Luxor, it had already been a very intense trip and I had been to five temples.  I was definitely on energetic overload so what was one more.    The group went straight to Sekhmet’s chapel which is off to the side of the complex and out of the main stream of visitors.   This tiny chapel has held the principle Sekhmet statue for 3500 years.  There are  hundreds of statues of Sekhmet around the world but this one is the seat of her power.   I was the last of the group to get into the small, dimly lit room.   There she was, I couldn’t touch her I was in such a stunned state.   I laid a few flowers, a small stone and oil at her feet as an offering and I just stood back to take it all in.  Toward the end of my visit her Egyptian guardian started to take the energy from her and place it on those of us who wanted it.    So that is me in the green shirt waiting to receive her energy.

Hands of Light

That night I saw the pictures.   They were stunning proof the energies we give names and personalities are really there.     There have been claims on the internet that those pictures were taken because of a device running in the chapel but that is not true.   The picture is because of the devotion of those who love and honor the goddess in all her many forms.  I know because I was there.

I call on Sekhmet often when I need courage and protection and help, I know she will be there.   I also know that she has a gentle and loving side protecting those who love the goddess.   I’m reminded of her when my sweet cat Persy climbs in my lap for love.    I’ve seen many of her statues and I always want to hold her hand and thank her.

On Thanksgiving weekend in 2010 some friends came to town and brought me a gift, a giant calendar of pictures of Tutankhamen’s treasures.   January’s picture was of my dear friend Sekhmet, three feet tall and of bright gold.   This calendar was from Germany and not even available in the US but she had found a way to make her presence very clear to me.   I was on the fence about going to Egypt for a third time but, when she showed up in such a unique way, how I could say no.  Six weeks later I was in Egypt when the Revolution broke out.  I was never afraid because I knew I had Sekhmet on my side and she wanted me there.   Thank goodness I listened.

Before you decide that I’ve lost my mind and am an idol worshiper, try to see these stories as  our limited minds trying to grasp the limitless universe.  We use these archetypal gods and goddesses to make sense of these unseen worlds.     They help us understand ourselves and our time on Earth.   Whether we call on goddesses or saints or great deities, the Universe is always there to bring us miracles.


Sekhmet, German Calendar



Mother Meera

For this I come—to open your hearts to the Light—-Mother Meera

A few weeks ago was listening to the radio show “On Being”, it airs on PBS in my town every Sunday afternoon. ( The host Krista Tippet was interviewing Gordon Hempton who calls himself an acoustic ecologist.   Gordon has spent his life listening to the sounds of the planet and searching for places that do not have any man made sounds.   He says there are only a handful of places in the US that are completely silent.  Noise pollution is everywhere all the time to the point we don’t hear it any more.

The great mystics and spiritual teachers have always taught that silence is where we meet the Divine.  In the modern world there is no more silence.   The TV is on all day long, the phones are making noise, we walk with iPods, cars and lawn mowers are a constant roar.  How can we possibly find a place remote enough to listen to our Soul?   Unless we stop and really listen we don’t realize how noisy and distracted we are.

I now live in the country but there is still road noise, airplanes, air conditioners, alarms, phones and a television.   The first six months I lived in this house there was a TV on constantly in my kitchen to distract my disabled mother-in-law and her caregiver.  I finally started turning it off during breakfast and the silence was like a tonic.  No news, no cooking shows or crime dramas, just quiet with my morning coffee.

The great Indian guru/avatar Mother Meera gives Darshan (meeting with the spiritual master) in silence.   Last week I went to Boone, North Carolina for my third Darshan.  You enter the room in silence and you do not make any noise the entire 2 hour session.   One by one each person slowly makes their way to her and sits at her feet.   She then touches your head and unties the karmic knots and then looks into your eyes giving light to every part of your being.   No words are ever spoken.  Mother Meera knows exactly what you need and bestows a blessing on you.    After the entire room has had an individual blessing she then gives a silent group blessing and then leaves.

Nothing needs to be said.  No one’s egos are fed by telling their story.  No words can convey the highest teachings.    She brings the Divine to each person equally in that sacred silence.

I do not speak but my force changes people completely.   The power of the Divine works in the silence and will change things according to your aim and what you ask for.  Sometimes I can give immediately what you have requested.  Sometimes it takes time. —  Mother Meera

Houses Are People Too

an old soul

I’m a Taurus and Taurans are house people.  I love being home nesting. You won’t find fashion magazines in my house but many home magazines.   Looking at beautiful homes and gardens is very relaxing to me.

I’ve only lived in three places since 1972;  my childhood home, a newlywed’s apartment, and the home where I raised my girls.   Three houses in 40 years—I’m definitely not a nomad.

A few weeks ago I had to move for the first time in 18 years.   I’ve had a harder time leaving my home than I could have imagined .   I knew for years I was going to move but I just didn’t know when.   That fateful day was tied to the wellbeing of family members for we have moved to a family home.  When my father-in-law died after a short illness my moving date became a reality.

The first week in our new home was a bit of a shock.   I missed my old home and life terribly and thought I would never adjust.  I felt I had move to “Wuthering Heights”.   The house was cold, dark and old and the wind howled.   Its owner of 60 years was gone and the house seemed very bleak.   It was my job to tell the house that its master would never be returning.

Every day it gets easier and slowly the house has become accustom to me and me to it.  I first met the home when I was 19 and it was 140.  Now I’m 49 and it is 170 and I know that I’m just the next in line of a long history and there will be others after me.

This home has seen much and has many tales to tell.   It witnessed the Indian Removal, the Civil War, the Depression, and the Tennessee Valley Authority turning the river to a large lake.   Now instead of a ferry going across a river there is a giant bridge and planes flying over head.  I know of at least one birth in the house.

I’m meant to be here and time will tell what role I play in its history and what role the home plays in mine.   We are forever linked together.

Now the initial shock and hard work of moving is over I will start the next chapter of my life. I have grieved for my old home and have lingering sadness that my babies have flown from the nest.    So I’m going to spend the summer listening to the home and land and see what secrets it wants to share and what it wants to experience next because homes are people too and this one is a very wise old soul.

My Cosmic Twin


My Twin Anne

In everyday life I have two brothers and a sister, but in my cosmic world I have a twin. I wrote earlier about my cosmic mother Rachael, her daughter Anne and I were born the very same day.

The synchronicities between our two lives are really very stunning. We were both born April 28, 1964, 9 hours and 11 minutes apart. Anne was born in New Zealand, and I was born in New Jersey—we came in on the same boat but got off in different ports. Anne was two months premature and wasn’t expected to live. She must have had a good reason to be born that day.

She is Anne and my first name is Nancy; they are the same name and mean “grace”. We are both married to men named Hamilton. My husband’s first name is Hamilton and her husband’s last name is Hamilton. We both had Mastiffs—a very unique and extra large breed of dog. Rigby and Roo looked exactly alike.

We are both trained as school teachers. Anne had a wonderful career as a teacher and became an administrator. Anne and I both made pottery as a hobby. We both have two daughters but Anne also has two sons.

Sadly Anne died of cancer a year ago today. I think about Anne often and sometimes feel that I need to live extra fully for her. I wanted her to know that I will take care of her mother and be there for her beautiful daughters. I wish I had the chance to spend more time with her but at least I spent the night at her house twice and she was a wonderful cook and hostess.

I didn’t know her well, but yet I did, as I heard many stories from her mother. Anne will always be part of my life; you can never be separated from a twin much less a cosmic twin. Two babies born the same day but separated by half a world somehow met and are friends and have so much in common. I know for sure the Universe has a plan, nothing is by chance.

John of God

John of God     photo by Karen Leffler

Guest Post and Photos by Karen Leffler

As the perpetual pilgrim will tell you, there are times in our lives when the Heart simply must have its way; and it does!  Sitting alone in a little Nevada City, California coffee house, never would I dream a life altering occasion was about to begin; a decade’s journey into Love Unknown, raw pain unrecognized and freedom to co-create with our Divine Self. A chance encounter with another Realtor who had just come back from The Casa De Dom Inacio de Loyola (The House of St. Ignatius of Loyola) and told me a wild story about a full trance medium, John of God. This man allowed spirits (dead folks who once lived on this earth) to occupy his body and mind while his consciousness ‘slept’ as he vacated his body. To this effect, millions of people around the globe had in meditation at the Casa and healings unimagined by many, especially those from our Western culture. Skeptical, my mind was racing, trying to find the nearest exit when my eyes welled up with tears. How this impacted my heart, I do not know, but the next thing I knew I had committed to meeting her doctor fiancé in two weeks in Abadiania, Brasil.

Wearing white, as is the custom at the Casa, we walked past the mediator in the medium’s current and turned to walk up to a man on a raised platform sitting next to an altar. Emotions were flying within me, and yes, some fear as to what I was about to encounter. Brought up to the father orpai, as they are called, who was occupying John of God’s body, it seemed the occupying spirit, Dr .Augusto, knew me, and, I, on one knee, looked into a fathomless universe in his eyes. The only other time I had ever experienced such Unconditional Love was with Satya Sai Baba 30 years before. I had fallen into the heart of God. He said in Portuguese, “I am helping, do not worry, I am helping”. I was told by the translator that anything could be asked for. It was just as I had been told with Sai Baba so long ago.

Many people, dying of cancer, MS and so many ‘incurable’ diseases had come here as a last-ditch effort to find a healing. Many had. My longing was to know God within me; to live and breathe God’s Love. The interpreter asked if I was truly prepared for what that might mean. Of course, I was not or I may never have asked. In time, I came to understand I had been unwilling to do the deep inner work required for such transformation. I do not remember much of what was said that morning, other than Dr. Augusto’s gentle command, “Sit in my current room and go to work”. My memory is only of the deep Presence of Love and overwhelming tears of recognition.

There were no rules for meditation, contemplation or prayer. Yet, I could feel the spirits (there are hundreds of thousands working on the spiritual realms there) working with me, using my inner framework to guide me through those ‘aha’ moments of fledgling self-awareness. In ‘current’ (meditation) we are a ‘corrente’ or chain of bio-electric energy used for healing. Each of us uniquely experiencing aspects of ourselves long forgotten or denied. Visions, clairaudience are common place amongst the meditators at different times. I experienced sorrow, joy, and profound gratitude on this new path. My service had begun, but, who would believe I would-be told I was a professional photographer (I had an instamatic around my neck at the Casa) then have the privilege to write about the spirits and photograph John of God and the healing ‘energy’ at the Casa for the next ten years.

photo by Karen Leffler

Karen Leffler

Freelance photographer-videographer

Amaru Li

Peru 2011

Amaru Li,  Peru 2011

“Someone from South America is coming to you and it is very important.”  Hummm, South America? I’ve had a lot of predictions in readings that make no sense or show no obvious way they could happen. So I filed it in the back of my mind having no idea how someone from South America could be knocking on my door. It took four years to come true but in September of 2010 on a full moon Equinox, I was at the Knoxville airport picking up a Peruvian Shaman, Amaru Li. My prophesied Shaman was at my house. I didn’t question it, I just went with it.

One year later on the Fall Equinox of 2011, I was with Amaru on top of the crystal city, Machu Picchu, in Peru. The pilgrimage to the sacred sites all over Peru was enchanted by Amaru’s knowledge and energy making every step a healing experience.

Since that first meeting, Amaru Li has been to my house many times. It somehow seems natural to have a Shaman staying in my basement on a regular basis. There is peace and happiness flowing from my house when he is here. Timmy the cat loves to sit on his bed and in his suitcase soaking up the energy and hoping for some playtime with the laser pointer. Guinness the bulldog, “diablo muchacho”, to Amaru, is ready for his extra strolls around the block. I live to spoil Amaru with lots of home cooking and pie.

In the evenings Amaru will bring out his flute and drum and we have spontaneous journeys and meditations. The relaxed atmosphere allows my mind to go to another place and time and the magic is all around.

I have a steady stream of people come through the door for Amaru’s shamanic healing sessions. He is a modern-day man practicing ancient shamanic healing methods. Amaru has dedicated his life to the traditional path of the Shaman and has spent years studying and devoting himself to his work with the unseen, higher dimensions and holding space for healings. As people leave his healing sessions I hear comments like “I feel a clearing, cleansing of my chakras.”, “I’m so relaxed, that was magical.”, “That was the deepest peace I have ever felt.” ,“I was totally somewhere else during the session.” “The next day everything around me had such a glow.”

These traditional healing sessions can’t be duplicated by more modern techniques because it is centuries of training, initiations and devotion that brings someone in a healing lineage to their true power as a Shaman. Shamans come with this in their DNA, are chosen and then initiated to their work, keeping the healing energy pure and powerful.

The prediction was right. It has been very important. I couldn’t have imagined a Shaman at my house or a trip to Peru but thank goodness it came true or I would have missed a great blessing.

Amaru Li’s website

My Cosmic Mother


I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I was simply going to what I thought was a lecture about angels.  More importantly I needed a break from my rambunctious children, so I went to the monthly meeting of Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship, an organization of teachers sent around the country to lecture on spiritual and metaphysical topics.    Pre-internet days, traveling teachers and books were the only way to get spiritual information.  How things have changed.

I went innocently to the meeting December 5, 1997.   The teacher was a Medium (someone who can receive messages from loved ones who have passed away) from England named Rachael Salley.  We sang some Christmas Carols and she read the Christmas story from the Bible, all very enjoyable.   Then she started to give messages from the other side.   ‘Hummm, I’ve never seen this before, and this isn’t about angels”.  With an open mind I took in this new experience, for this was before John Edwards, James Van Praagh and the Long Island Medium, mediumship was not widely known in the US.

I was good with it all until the last message.   It was for me.  Wait, I didn’t know anyone who had died and isn’t this supposed to be an angel lecture.       I did know someone who had died, the 10 year old grandson of an acquaintance had passed away the year before of leukemia. I had met him once and had helped organize food for his funeral.  During the message this little boy asked over and over for me to tell his grandmother that he was ok.  After the message I rushed to Rachael and took her hands.  It was an emotional experience for both of us.

When you are asked by Spirit to do something, you better do it or you might not be asked again.   I wanted to be asked again so I knew I needed to deliver the message.   But couldn’t I have gotten a bit easier assignment?   It was not going to be an easy message to deliver and I needed vast amounts of courage.    So the next day I did go to the angel lecture, for the only way I could build my courage was to spend more time with Rachael.  I did get the courage and delivered the message two days later, it was well received and I knew I did what needed to be done.   I couldn’t speak about the experience for years.

I guess I should have known that there was going to be more to this story.   The night before the lecture I dreamed about Rachael.  In the dream she touched me on the shoulder and said “I’m waking up your 500 year old memory”, she then touched me on the other shoulder and said “I’m waking up your 1000 year old memory”.   The day of the angel lecture she and I discovered that I had been born the very same day as her daughter Anne, nine hours apart on opposite sides of the globe, cosmic twins.

I kept in contact with Rachael and had a couple of readings with her over the next couple of year, and I would write to her on my birthday and Anne’s birthday.  I always felt a connection but when she was in town she stayed with her Spiritual Frontiers hostess Tollie.   When Tollie unexpectedly died in 2003 I wrote Rachael and offered to be her hostess so she could continue working in this area.   She accepted my invitation and I arranged  a visit in June.  When I went to the airport to pick her up I wasn’t totally sure I would recognize her, I had seen her so few times.    During that visit we realized how connected we were spiritually.  I became a spiritual daughter to her and she became my cosmic mother.   Nine years and many visits later we are truly mother and daughter, chosen by the heart and destiny.   We have traveled together to England, Egypt and Mexico.  I met her daughter and family in England and feel like a sister to her son.

Spiritual families feel like Home, we need their comfort, support and understanding.   They will never replace the connections to our human families but add a depth of knowing and connection that is dear to our hearts. Recently I have welcomed a few more members to my cosmic family.  I cherish my spiritual family and know that we support each other every step of the way.




I didn’t see it coming.   If you had told me what my last five years would bring I would have laughed.   I could never have imagined it.   But I think these experiences came from the one word that guides my life, Devotion.  It is devotion that motivates me and gives me courage and helps me through the tough times.  It is devotion that brings joy into my life as my effort brings rewards.

I’ve watched my neighbors’ devotion to their severely disabled daughter, finding joy in the toughest possible job.  Their courage in the face of never ending care displays devotion that few will ever experience.   That deep love keeps them going and doing the exhausting job required for her wellbeing.

I have had a devotion to the Path for many years and I had no idea what that devotion would bring to my life.   My devotion to parenting meant sleepless nights with sick babies, nightly violin practice for 13 years and holding tough boundaries with teenagers.   The rewards did come but only through dogged determination motivated by love.   It was never easy.

Spiritual life also requires devotion and determination.   It isn’t easy.   Experiences and challenges are in your path every step of the way.   There is no “add water and stir” spirituality that gives you much depth.   Instant gratification only brings an instant version, like instant food gives a dissatisfying version of the real thing. Instant gives a gratification of momentary hunger but not the real deep satisfaction and fulfillment of a home cooked meal.  The spiritual seeker has to do the work of gathering the food, chopping, cooking, serving and then cleaning to have a banquet of experiences and insights.  But the memories, fulfillment and growth that come from the effort is worth the sore back, and dirty dishes, the knowledge of a job well done and the gift the effort has given those who enjoyed the meal.

My devotion has taken me places I never could have dreamed or wished to go.   I could have never come up with multiple trips to Egypt and England or a journey to Peru.  That was out of my budget and vision.   But somehow it happen, it was part of what was on the path.  I also didn’t expect that dear friends would leave my life and dear new friends would enter my life.   My teacher Page has taught me “The path leads you, you don’t lead the path”.   So expect the unexpected and see where the devotion to spirit and family and friends takes you.   You will be as surprised as I have been the last five years.   You will be glad you made the effort that devotion requires for it brings satisfaction and peace from a job well done.