The capacity for intuitive awareness is sadly overlooked or relegated to the sphere of “woo woo” arts, yet if we awaken our intuition we find ways to live more fully—more deeply experience the “rapture of being alive”, to use Joseph Campbell’s words. In the global political and climatic crisis in which we find ourselves, developing our intuitive sense may be part of our planetary salvation as we apprehend subtle energetic fields and open to the abundant helping and healing energies that surround and infuse us. Our intuition may source our deepest inspiration, offering us paths of communication and service.
The Greek word “nous” is translated most closely as “seeing with the heart.” We most often hear it to mean an “inner knowing”, and the combination of that seeing and knowing for me comprises intuition. Intuition is one of our greatest of human gifts, and perhaps the one most undervalued in Western culture which places emphasis on action, intellect, and knowledge—the entire mental sphere—rather than the quieter, inner sense of knowing that requires both listening and seeing with the heart. Traditionally we would be talking about the realms of masculine versus feminine, but I would say the avenues of intuition available to us relate directly to the soul and source of the Universe, the Divine Fire at the heart of all Creation, available across lines of gender, culture, race, and age. That said, there are definitely groups and cultures that have enhanced intuitive sensing because of their traditions and environmental conditions. For them, intuitive sensing is trained and ingrained, an essential part of their beings and their survival.
Children arrive on this Earthplane with a highly developed intuitive sense—and it is part of their survival mechanism. Mothers are often deeply intuitively connected to their children from conception. I have heard in my holistic practice countless times of mothers meeting their babies’ souls in dreams or daytime sudden communications. I know mothers who were told by their babies what their names were to be; mothers who knew the gender of their children before any ultrasound was available. Children see things beyond our faculty of sight, hear the voices and guidance of angels, have visitations from their dying grandparents—and they integrate this; they are unafraid. When I was a child regular visitors came into my bedroom—guardians in black robes whom I called the “Clothespin Men,” whom I accepted as ordinary and benevolent. I learned as an adult that the older sister with whom I shared my room, who is highly intuitive, was unaware of their presence. I believe they held some sacred guardianship of my destiny and like wise elders watched over me and my progress. They disappeared when I was about eight, and my guardianship was passed on to other beings and guides.
I am professionally trained as a psychotherapist, spiritual guide, and an energy worker and healer, including the use of shamanic practices. Without exception in my entire professional and personal life I rely deeply on intuitive sensing. If I am listening only to another person’s words, without attending to that which is unsaid, that which is revealed through breath and cadence, through posture and gesture, through the person’s energetic field, then I am hearing only the obscuring obvious and not the essential Self or inner divinity of the One before me.
When I am working with a person on my massage table, I am doing soulwork, not just body work. I open every pore of my being as a portal to knowing, hearing, seeing-with-my-eyes-closed awareness of forces, blockages, beings from other realms, and guides–my own and those of the client. In this keen listening and seeing of the subtle, I have helped clients achieve major breakthroughs in ways that become life-changing. What I am hearing or seeing may make no sense to me, and if I do not reveal it to the client because I am afraid it is too weird, or that it is meaningless because it seems irrelevant to me, or because of my own fear of surrender to the opening, then I deprive the client of illumination, of personal epiphany.
This kind of intuitive healing experience was captured in an article about my work with her that Kathryn Webb wrote of in Planet Vermont Quarterly:
“ I could feel the energetic warmth penetrate the sites as she worked in silence. With light touch, she began to move her hands in gentle circular motion and she, from her deep meditative state, began to tell me what she observed in my pain and the injuries. She described to me the spiritual basis of the injuries as she asked about areas in my life which needed attention or change. She worked with visual symbols, assessing their meanings in my life, symbols which bore emotional impact for me or were part of Spirit’s attempt to get my attention. And always, the radiant heat of her hands.
“Finally in one moment of electric, jolting energy, I felt immediate relief, my level of pain sinking to a 2, the swollen mass in my arm vanishing.
“Because I was skeptical of the long-term effects of the treatment, I waited a week to call Ellen with immense elation and gratitude….
What have I learned from this experience? That there are many levels to any injury or illness—the obvious physical one, and others more subtle. Physical symptoms bear great spiritual information and meaning. It matters how I conduct my life, what choices I make—and perhaps most of all, where my fears live. The messages from Spirit which Ellen Dionna was able to help decipher for me, as particular to my personal symbology, were crucial to the energy shift which resulted in the healing.”
Yes, I attend to the messages from spiritual realms, to intuitions of what I call “spirit of place”. For thirteen years my husband and I lived in wilderness Vermont, two miles off the grid in two thousand acres of forests and meadows uninhabited by any human beings but us. Nature, in her silences and the voices of the trees, brooks, skies and loamy earth, and all the sweet and poignant voices of the wingeds, four-leggeds and creepy crawlers, became my greatest teacher. I spent days fasting and questing on the land, opening, opening, and then leading with my husband quests that opened others to the Spirit of Place. Through that immense silence and those voices, the tissue-thin membrane that separates us– from the realms of the Ancestors, the spirits of other sentient beings with whom we share our planet and its ethers, and the communications of the electrically thrumming Universe–fell away and opened me to a way of being that makes me more completely Human, more deeply attuned to all of that and the beyond Beyond that I call God or the Divine.
We live in a time of historic perils. It is imperative that we become more skilled in deep listening to our own bodies’ sentience, to the still, small voice within, to the wisdom of other realms and other species, and to each other as compassionate human beings. Voices and visions are part of the range of spiritual experience to which ordinary humans may have access. Intuition is a natural part of our human way of extending ordinary perception—we all know about the intuitive hunch, the prickling sensation on the back of our necks or goose bumps that tell us something is going on beyond rational thought processes. By awakening and expanding our intuitive sensing we open to a whole range of information, experience and awareness we would otherwise miss—and dismiss.
Embedded in the scope of intuitive experience are psychic knowings and synchronicities. Synchronicity is itself imbedded in a whole range of quantum interactions called quantum entanglement. Our brains and heart centers are attuned to these entanglements—indeed, as quantum energetic forces are swirling constantly around and through us, so are they permeating the molecular interactions within our beings. Time-Space dimensions and fluctuations are part of our inner physiological experience which can and do impact our daily lives. I have worked for over 40 years with past-life regression hypnosis. Indeed it was my work with people whom I had regressed that led me to return to school for my degree in psychotherapy so I could be responsible and responsively equipped to help people psychologically integrate their past life experiences. But one needn’t always be hypnotized to feel a past life shift—it can happen spontaneously in everyday encounters. Some of the most stunning accounts or glimpses of past lives have occurred spontaneously with children before they are five. My elfin granddaughter at two pranced out of her bedroom to her mother in another room and announced, “When I lived before I was a boy, and my name was Asher.” My daughter, wise to past life realities, followed her as she flitted back to her room, “Tell me more about when you were Asher,” she said. My granddaughter cocked her head in puzzlement, “Huh?” The door opened and shut that fast. Another grandmother tells me of her two year old grandson who gazes at a panoramic photo of Mesa Verde she displays above her couch. After a time he says to her, “You know, Nana, when we lived there, I was the grandma and you were the baby.” Another grandson of mine at age four gave his Irish mother a sudden detailed account of his life in the state of Washington where he built brick houses. He ended the monologue with “God and I decided it was time for me to come back, so I chose you and Daddy to be my family.” This from his carseat as his mother drove among massive old brick mill buildings—and from a child who is reared by Unitarian Universalist parents. Where does this come from?!? A slippage of time, a sudden tilt of the planet—and it is part of the intuitive gifts to recognize such a shift and allow it to benefit the “now” of your life. Oh, how much poorer we are if we don’t align with and savor the gifts of deeply spiritual intuitive awareness!
And that’s the whole point. Awakening to and expanding awareness of our intuitive insights and nudgings help us live more vitally, more compassionately, more deeply attuned to ourselves and those with whom we share our world—our inner world, our ordinary outer world, our planetary world, and the Divine Cosmos which are ever eager to reveal themselves to us.
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ELLEN DIONNA, LCSW
is a spiritual director, psychotherapist, and shamanic practitioner in private practice in Pennsylvania, leading workshops and life-enrichment programs in shamanic and spiritual development. She was trained in the Barbara Brennan method of energy healing and chakra work, and she was ordained into the Society of Spiritual Science after completing her two-year formation program in spiritual guidance. She is a core faculty member in the Rowe Center’s Certificate Training Program in Spiritual Guidance and is the author of Spiritual Sampler: Illuminating Inner Wisdom.