My Friend the Medium: Why the Mystic Works for Me

Photography by  Michael O'Shea. 

Photography by  Michael O'Shea. 

I'm not sure how it started, but I have been venturing into spiritual therapy. At least that's what I call it.

I don't always talk about it. I was raised Catholic and have enough friends with an intellectual bent to make me  needlessly fear anything that could turn me into a cliche. But bear with me those of you with New Age in their upbringing, this is all new to me. 

So why all these caveats? Well, 1) I'm scared to tell you about all the healers I've seen and 2) how much healing I feel that I need. I get nervous about knowing what is socially acceptable to share these days. I'm just tired of bullshitting. 

I live life in perpetual shock when I get good feedback. I don't know what this is or from where it stems, but a stem it has, and seeds, and leaves and deep deep roots, and it grows like a weed (primarily in my throat.) 

It's only come to my attention in the last year or so that even though i don't need anxiety meds at this moment, I may have a sneakier, deeper type of anxiety, that radiates out of my bones instead of on the surface, and that it might require a different solution than traditional soft science can offer. 

So, what did I do? What are these spiritually-tinged therapies I speak of?

Well, there were a lot, so we'll just start at the beginning. 

The first was a healing and reading with a medium I very much trust and whose language (largely symbolic and metaphorical) I understand: Hank Hivnor.

I have seen Hank four times. I found him after my friend saw him and had a profound life-changing experience. She explained to me, "It's really trippy and shit, you go there and there might be a big foot in the room who wants to help you and he will tell you what the spirits are saying, or describe the images he sees."

If you're rolling your eyes right now, that's fine. You can visit me back when I blog again about style icons, but for those of you who are as intuitively drawn to the invisible, then please do read on. 

Seeing a medium is the same as any other sort of healing experience: the practitioner's style, bedside manner, experience and knowledge will color your session. The information you receive will resonate with you or cause you to resist, especially when it entails changing your habits and patterns, which again, it seems most healing does. It will start with awareness and offer no divine one-time cure-all, but that's just part of being an organism, I guess. 

With Hank, there is a sort of spatial orchestra that plays out. You have to sit in  particular seat at his place, and you might have to move your things off to the side. Even a coffee cup could distract him from what he's about to tell you. After all, he sees subtle energy bodies. So when he sits you down, it's kind of like when someone clears their desk to work. 

I, of course, had a list of questions. I wanted to make sure I got everything in. I had it sitting in my lap when he asked me to please move it to the side. 

He smiled at me. "You're gonna be one of my new favorite people, " he said. I was wearing my most colorful dress with a Keith Haring style print on it. I had shiny green eyeliner along the insides of my eyes and my long hair all the way down. I was trying to dress myself for a happy psychedelic experience. 

After organizing his sacred ritual tools: candles, sage, a shell, he said a prayer to begin the reading. I didn't have any fear of safety, nor subjects I wanted to broach, but friends of mine said that if you wanted to request he stay away from certain topics, that he could. I told him I wanted to know everything.

"Come on, where is everyone?" he said. Apparently, at my first session, not too many deities showed up for me right away.

"First, I am just going to read your general energy," he said. He was sitting in front of me, but looking sort of over my shoulder. "There is something really oily around you. It's slick. I think someone very powerful said a prayer to protect you," he said. "They had good intentions but the Universe isn't with you. It was meant to protect you from anything harmful, but may have cut you off from both good and bad things," he said. 

I let the information sink in. This made a lot of sense to me. When I was in college and working at a shoe store as a teenager in New York for the first time, I was an open book. I trusted everyone, would smile at everyone. When I waited tables in my early twenties my eyes would get hot and tear up whenever I thought I displeased someone. I could understand perfectly if my mother had said a few prayers to make me less sensitive; I could also easily see how years of attempting to callous myself for the service industry particularly in New York, could have hardened me in some unintentional ways. And if this meant I was cut off to the spiritual, both the good and the bad, that wasn't such a far leap for me to make. 

After Hank was able properly call to some of the deities he works with, (he has a host of cross-cultural deities who help him in his work), we continued on. 

"There's this prism-like thing," he said. "It's near your heart. Everyone from your ancestor's village has one. It's sort of like this symbol of passivity, because in this community it was important for everyone to make sure they didn't outshine anyone else. Do you want to keep it?" he asked. "It might not be the best fit for a modern day woman running her own business," he said. 

He made sure to ask my ancestors if it was okay to remove this "trinket" of our family. My mother's maiden name is Dela Paz, which translates literally to "Of the Peace." Most of the family is concerned with avoiding conflict, so this really resonated with me. "They're saying it's ok if we remove it from here and hang it in the room that could be a nursery," he said. "That might be more appropriate." 

"I'm seeing like a wall of awards," he said . Does someone around you have a lot of awards?"

"Yes, I do, in my family's basement," I answered. When I was in middle school through high school, I earned awards from perfect attendance to best defensive player in soccer. I was voted most likely to succeed. I was the president of the history club. I was collecting awards like they were savings bonds. 

"Did you ever feel like it wasn't you doing the work?" he asked me. 

At first I said, yes it was me doing the work. But then I thought about it and I really felt the power of my mom at that time. She kind of worshipped intellectual agility when I was a kid. She saw that I had a spark of that academic depth so she encouraged me to "be smart." It's only in my early thirties that I'm starting to take that specific type of intelligence off a pedestal and understand all the forms of intelligence as equal. 

"You don't know how to be happy for yourself," Hank continued. "You normally do things to make other people happy."

As he said this, I felt a tear roll down my cheek. The system of awards and accolades I had navigated so easily in high school had created my entire personality. I knew how to follow a curriculum, how to check off someone else's list, how to make the friends that were the most "sought-after" by others.

This story didn't play out the way I thought it would when I came into young adulthood; I had one tough time after another both in and after college. I stopped writing. I fell out of social group after social group. All the boys I played music with kept at it, while I slowly felt like I was falling forever behind. 

I just didn't know who I was without a social structure or a teacher telling me what my next accomplishment was supposed to be. And just having turned 32 (last year) I was suddenly realizing this was happening. When I walked in the door to my first session at Hank's, I wasn't feeling lost or insecure or bad about anything. I just felt the need to hear some spiritual information. At that time, I was so good at people-pleasing, so good at having a cheerful attitude at work and making people laugh and making sure I was being a good roommate, waiter, friend, girlfriend, that I just subdued myself into true passivity. I did everything I did really well. I just never asked myself why I was doing it or what I wanted. It was in my session that I started asking myself these questions, which I am still in the process of doing as I write this. 

That was just some of the truly transformational information that came through in my session with Hank. I just felt an intuitive trust of him and his methods, so it hit me in a way that I am sure it may not have from a friend, from a therapist or even from myself. 

"Is there anyone you want to talk to?" he asked me. "Any spirits you want to contact?"

"Yes, my grandmother," I said. 

After I gave him the spelling of her full name, he said. "I see her like in a glass container. Surrounded by angels... "The angels are trying to contain her, and keep her at a distance," he said. "She wants to come in here and rearrange the furniture," he said. 

If you knew my grandmother, you would know how much she liked to be the center of attention, how she never held her tongue about anything. When the first of our cousins had a baby, my grandmother didn't like the name, and addressed a card for her with the word "baby." It wouldn't surprise me at all if she wanted to come rearrange the furniture. She had a sense of humor and always knew what she wanted.

"She is showing me that she's stuffing newspaper into someone's shoes so that the person will think the shoes are too small and give them to her. She's saying to tell you that she did whatever she needed to do to get what she wanted."

This piece of advice made sense to me as well. I had my experimentation with manipulation as an adolescent girl. Since the days of getting my little sister to give me $100 of her First Communion money for our art club and the kicking her out immediately were over, I never wanted to show anything that resembled manipulation, or even strategy, ever again. It seemed my grandmother was trying to show me that knowing how to get what you want and being a little sneaky about it didn't necessarily make someone a bad person. 

"She's showing someone running in a bikini and jumping into the ocean. She's saying it's important to have fun," he added. 

Repeatedly, I talk about going on vacations, ask other people about their trips, look at photographs of vacations on social media. I haven't taken one without a family-oriented reason in four years. Maybe five. 

"She says, what is the point of working so hard if you aren't going to enjoy the fruit of your labor?" he said. 

To this day, I am still planning my vacation. (It's been about a year since my first reading.) I'm about to turn 33 and still having trouble pulling the trigger on this vacation thing.

We talked about other things, of course. Other people in my life, other energies. Hank had suggestions from Big and Tall, one of the deities he works with, that I paint something in the store red, that the energy of the red would be good for business. That I stop insisting on trying to make everything perfect, that instead, that I understand that it's my creative process that draws people in. That I stop feeling responsibility for other people's happiness and perhaps consider my own instead. There was tons of pertinent information, and other pieces that were brought up and sort of fell to the wayside, (apparently, my long lost ancestors were horse people), but the information that did stick with me opened me up in a way that changed my life. 

So why Hank? Why a medium at all? Why not speak to a therapist?

For me, perhaps, there's less possibility for my ego to interfere when I feel in contact with light beings. When another human being gives me advice, I find myself asking what he or she really knows. This is also how I treat myself: I ask myself how I could possibly know anything about anything given all the information out there. When I am in the presence of someone who can communicate with deities and the divine, my reverence opens me up to suggestions that might otherwise fall on deaf ears.

There is so much more, and I will write about it in the future. But like all manner of teachers, counselors and other sources of knowledge, what I have learned will only impact me if I apply what I've learned to make changes in my life. And this is an ongoing process. For me, the greatest discovery was my sadness and my fair, and my cruelty to myself.  I had no idea it was there. It was buried deeply in the form of self-hating self-defeating ideas. I just didn't notice them because I was too busy making sure people liked me.

And knowing that these elements of myself were there allowed me to begin to take them into the light to examine and dismantle them and understand that I deserve good things, that I am capable of accomplishing goals, and that there is no such thing as perfection beyond the idea that you already are perfect in this moment, exactly as you are.