The following is a chronology of significant events which have led me to my work today in the healing and spiritual arts.
Infancy - A few days home from the hospital
Each year on my birthday, April 10, my Mom would reminisce about the day I was born. She'd tell me how she was persuaded by my eldest sister to name me Dina (pronounced like Tina, Nina, or Gina). At that time (1961), comedian/actor Danny Kaye had recorded a popular song called "Dinah," which he pronounced "Dina" in the song. My Mom told me that Danny Kaye named his own daughter after the name in the song, only his daughter's name is spelled "Dena." Since my mother was born in Italy, she, of course adopted the Mediterranean spelling of my name. I was told that my eldest sister and my Mom decided that they liked the name and that if my Mom gave birth to a baby girl, her name would be Dina. In any case, whenever my Mom reminisced about the day I was born, she'd remind me about the Danny Kaye song, along with the fact that she went into labor shortly after watching the Ed Sullivan show, which aired on Sunday nights. In her retelling of the details my mother explained how my four elder siblings (all a decade or more older than I) anxiously awaited the arrival of their baby brother or sister. My Mom described how each brother and sister had brought along something (comic books, a game of checkers, dolls, etc.) to keep them occupied in the hospital waiting room during the long hours of my mother's labor. I was told that the birth was normal, without complications. I was born on 4-10 (April 10th) at 4:10 in the morning.
My mother would inevitably get to the part of the story about what happened a few days later -- when they brought me home from the hospital. She said that soon after placing me into the crib which was kept in my parents' bedroom, I began to scream. My mother emphasized that this was not a normal type of crying. She said it was hysterical crying. She said I cried non-stop for a couple of hours and was inconsolable. She said that I was turning blue, for I was having trouble breathing, gasping for air as I wailed.
My parents called the pediatrician, who made a house call. Yes, doctors made house calls back then! Dr. Spizer got to the home within a few minutes after the call. I was still wailing. He concluded that I had been traumatized. My family had no explanation as to why this incident had taken place. They did not know why I was traumatized. They told Dr. Spizer that I was fine when they lay me in the crib, and then I just started screaming, crying at the top of my lungs and that I was having trouble breathing. My mother said Dr. Spizer insisted that, indeed, something had frightened me severely. I was told that even after they finally succeeded in calming me down, it still took a while to get me to stop whimpering completely. My mother said that after I stopped screaming, I continued to quiver and gasp, and the tears stopped rolling down my tiny cheeks only after I had finally fallen asleep.
Year after year, when my mother recounted her memories about my birthday, a strange feeling would come over me every time she got to the infamous "crying" and "trauma" part of the story. Aside from feeling a bit embarrassed whenever she retold that scene, I recalled feeling edgy just listening to the details, which remained ever as baffling to my mother even years later. I did not like hearing about the trauma story because something about it made me squirm. I never verbalized anything about this discomfort to my Mom. I'd just nod and go, "Hmmm." But, my being would fill with a strange and familiar knowing, and I'd think quietly to myself, "Yes, I know why I was crying. I was crying because I had realized for the first time where I actually was (Earth) --- and I did not want to be here. I wanted to go back home." I dared not speak this thought to my mother because it would have sounded crazy, and at ages 8, 9, 10, 11 --- even I did not fully understand what "home" meant. It was like having a piece of a puzzle, but nowhere to place it. As the years of my life progressed, more and more spontaneous past life memories emerged, and some of those puzzle pieces began to fit perfectly.
Age Three - David's Presence
This was the first time I spoke about my spirit guide, David, whom I could see as he watched over me, beaming intense sensations of protection and love.
David presented himself to me as a young man, probably in his twenties. He had dark hair and was handsome. I felt we had known each other for a long time; though, at age three, it is difficult to define a term like “a long time." Simply put, I knew he was my friend and my advocate. He saw great potential in me. He reminded me that I was a divine being, a child of God. He let me know that I was dear to his heart and that he was always there for me. When I saw David, he would appear standing at my side, a little distance from my right shoulder. So, one warm day as I was playing on my swing set in the backyard of the home where I grew up in New Orleans, David was there, as usual, beaming his energy toward me, bathing me in love. Filled with his enthusiasm, I jumped off the swing and ran to my mother who was planting spearmint near the water faucet behind the house. I said, "Ma' there's a man who watches me! He's so nice, and I really like him!"
My mother did not look up from her task. Instead, she replied in a matter-of -fact tone, "Yes, that's nice, baby." I continued to tell her about the kind handsome man. And, even at age three, I could discern that my parent was not taking me seriously. It was on this day that I understood how --- though my mother surely loved me, there were certain things happening in my world which were incommunicable between her and me. I wanted to find a way to explain the reality of David and all that I felt from him. Having a limited vocabulary at age three, I knew that there was just no way to convey this. And, there were other things too, which I wanted to talk about, but the adult response was the same. For instance, I wanted to tell my parents about the balls of colored light which I routinely saw floating in the darkness of my bedroom at night. I recall pointing those out to my Mom when I was five, and just as when I had told her about David, she reacted as if what I was telling her was child's play. Nevertheless, the incident with David on that beautiful spring day in my backyard marked the first time that I understood how some things were better left unsaid.
As mentioned above, my conscious interaction with the spirit world began at age three when I routinely saw and received messages from David. I saw him most vividly while swinging back and forth, higher and higher until my knees brushed the lower boughs of the backyard pecan tree. The repetitive motion put me quickly into what I now understand was a deep meditative, theta brain wave state, the same brainwave state that I currently help to induce for my PLSR clients during a Past Life Journey.
Higher and higher, faster and faster I'd swing, going deeper and deeper into trance. I liked that state of consciousness so much that I could not wait to get home from school so that I could swing back and forth, higher and higher to enter the magical realm where David was most visible.
Since I came into this earth life with an intrinsic sense that I had lived before in a civilization very different than what we know today in 21st century earth, such concepts of self-awareness were kept secret, only to myself, for these ideas were not the norms of my family or my culture. The words "reincarnation" and "spirit guide" were simply not part of the religious or cultural vernacular which I was used to hearing throughout my upbringing. Nevertheless, David continued to be a prominent spirit guide, making himself visible to me daily until the age of eleven.
Kindergarten Rude Awakening, Age Five
At age five while in kindergarten, I had a spiritual experience. The experience was not magical or pleasant. It was, rather, a rude awakening. This took place while sitting at the small table that served as a communal desk for me and three other classmates (four children to each play table.) There were several of these tables set up in the kindergarten classroom. In the middle of each table was a cigar box full of crayons. Every morning before class started, we kids were not to touch our crayons until given permission by our teacher. After the teacher gave her, "Okay, go for it!" command, the flurry began, and each child fought to hoard the best crayons to use for that day's coloring activities.
I chose not to participate in the scramble, as it was a sure way to sustain a scratched-up arm ... or to get slapped ... or to be shoved by the more aggressive classmates at the table, usually the rambunctious little boys. I did not want to be harmed, and neither did I want to harm anyone else. It was as simple as that! I thought such a way of acting (fighting over who was going to get the best crayons) was unnecessary, as there were more than enough good crayons in the cigar box to serve everyone. I wondered why our teacher not only condoned this behavior as acceptable but also contributed to it by creating a routine ritual of anticipation and competition--- right at the start of our school day, no less. Fighting for crayons seemed, to me, an unnecessary act of aggression. There were plenty of crayons. Having to fight for them created a perception of lack, as if there were really not enough crayons to go around for everyone ... and if you didn't fight for them, your coloring assignment was going to suck.
So, one morning after the teacher gave her high-sign that we could all act like piranha fish in a crayon feeding-frenzy, I thought to myself, "Why can't we all just share and have fun?" That's when I heard a voice which emanated from outside myself, a voice that seemed much older and wiser than something produced by my own five year-old mind or body. The voice had no audible sound. It was a clairaudient voice consisting of thought and feeling. The voice conveyed distinct words which were downloaded into my young mind.
Goosebumps covered my arms, and the fuzz at the nape of my neck stood on end as I heard the voice say, " Child ... such is the way of this world. What you see here in your classroom is considered 'normal ' for most of the people living upon this planet."
I knew that I had heard something extraordinary in that voice and in its message. I did not like the message, but I did feel comforted by the fact that "someone" had perceived my question, my thoughts, and my feelings. There also came the message that I would have to learn to adapt to this new, crude way of living, and that the adaptation would not always be enjoyable or easy for me. In fact, in that download I was shown that, in general, life on Planet Earth was often painful, chaotic, violent, and greed-driven. As a result of that day's realization, a realization punctuated by "the voice" along with a deep feeling of separation, a feeling that I really belonged somewhere else ... in the days soon thereafter I had heard the voice came an onslaught of random, sudden panic attacks. The attacks occurred practically daily, and they continued throughout kindergarten and for the next two years, until I entered third grade. It was then that I had made a conscious decision to control those spontaneous crying sprees. This is not to say that the feelings of anxiety were not on-going. They were, indeed! I just learned to hold back the tears, because as a third-grader I was getting "too big to be a cry baby.”
Yet, even at such a young age on that kindergarten morning, I knew that if people somehow understood more about who they really are --- who we all are --- life on our beautiful planet could be different. As I sat there in my little wooden chair at the kindergarten play table, I suddenly knew that I'd always remember this incident and the message from the wise voice. I knew that the bizarre incident had been instantaneously seared upon my conscious mind and that it would be there for the rest of my life. Now, more than fifty years later, I can say that it surely has been! What I recall most about the kindergarten scenario is that it was my first conscious, awake and aware clairaudient experience, one that was accompanied by a deep feeling ... a deep knowing ... an understanding that I somehow did not completely fit in with this place called Earth. Innately, I knew that I had known an existence far more advanced and far more peaceful. That existence was to be found in some other time and place. Such "knowing" caused me to feel sad, for I longed to be back at my real home.
Around the same time period as the kindergarten awakening had occurred and also at age five, I took notice that whenever I pictured God, what I saw in my mind's eye was not the image of a father in the sky sitting upon a throne with his son, Jesus, "seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty," as the Catholic Apostle's Creed states. The Creed was a prayer I had heard every Sunday at mass, and I was taught the recitation of it by my father. And though my catechism teacher had given me a little ceramic bust of a boy-Jesus with a golden halo over his bowed head and his hands in prayer .... whenever I prayed before going to sleep, I did not see a personified deity. Instead, when I closed my eyes and talked to God, I saw an image of deep space, blackness brightened by twinkling stars, and planets. I saw myself floating amid the vast, awesome panorama. In that perception of The Divine, I was not separate from God. I was a part of God. And, my perspective of God came not by looking upward at a night sky. Rather, in my mind's eye, the view was that of me looking all around, as if floating amid the expansiveness of space ... I and everyone, everything, an integral part of its peace, power, and beauty. And that to me was God!
Four Years Later, Age Nine
My childhood was "normal" except that I always had a fascination with various mystical topics such as: the ascetic lives of Catholic saints, the notion of life after death, heaven, and the possibility of life on other planets. My Italian grandmother had a little book about the lives of saints, and I was inspired when listening to her as she read the stories aloud to me in the Italian language. I was fascinated by the metaphysical powers which some of the saints were said to possess after enduring persecution and suffering which led to their spiritual experiences, and also how their exemplary lives of self-sacrifice, love, and service were related to the miracles they were said to perform. Even now, looking back at how drawn I was at an early age to explore the supernatural, I know that my life path was meant from the start to be one that is walked by keeping one foot set firmly upon a physical 3D Earth path, while the other foot remains steeped within the misty, indiscernible depths of an etheric, Spirit World. Both paths are just as real and as evident to me as the other... the solid one and the formless one. Even as a child, I knew this was true. My outer world was Earth. My inner world was Spirit. And that's how it was and has been throughout the years. I was naturally drawn to the subject of “metaphysics," though at age nine while in the fourth grade at Catholic school, I had no idea that such a "subject" existed or had formal nomenclature attributed to it. Nevertheless, through an elementary school newsletter known as The Weekly Reader, I purchased my first metaphysics primer.
The Weekly Reader featured paperback books advertised for sale at nominal prices, twenty-five cents or fifty cents for each novelette. It was in The Weekly Reader where I spotted a captivating advertisement for a little paperback called Strange but True. The advertisement made my stomach stir with excitement. "Wow!" I thought. "I can't wait to read that!" Along with a copy of Charlotte's Web, and Sounder, I purchased Strange but True. This paperback turned out to be the first of many metaphysical books that my eyes and my mind would devour in this lifetime. While all the other kids were playing kickball in the school yard, I was content to sit alone under the stairwell, absorbing the booklet's touted true tales about such phenomena as: people who could see auras, saints who could bi-locate, yogis in India who could slow down their heartbeats while remaining in stasis for weeks --without physically dying, and ... accounts of children in India who told their parents about details remembered from previous lifetimes. "Past lives?!" I remember thinking to myself with a sense of awe. "Is that what happened to me when I was sick with the flu two years ago? Was I remembering a past life?"
I'll explain this question in a moment. Suffice it to say, however, that Strange but True explained, in its elementary and succinct way, what a spirit guide is ... "Hmmm, so other people had invisible watchers like David too. It's not just me!" I thought with relief. The booklet also gave written accounts of voyages taken by astral travelers, and the book went so far as to formally explain the term astral projection. I do not think that any elementary metaphysical term was left undefined by the booklet. Within the pages of Strange but True were documented cases of haunted hotels where guests reported seeing ghosts. Written for the fourth grade reading level, the primer succinctly explained vocabulary such as spirit medium, apportation, trance state, levitation, and even .... ectoplasm! Imagine my nine year-old mind absorbing the fact that --- not only might my own father have been mistaken when he told me with certainty that there were no such things as ghosts, but that according to Strange but True -- there were actual scientific researchers known as parapsychologists, and those people hunted and recorded the presences of ghosts. Strange but True displayed a couple of photos said by parapsychologists to be snapshots of ghostly ectoplasm. The photos were snapped in places thought to be haunted. While looking at pictures of ectoplasmic apparitions in human-like form, I wondered if those scientists might be able to capture photos of ectoplasm in my parents' bedroom, where I routinely felt the spirit of my father's mother, my grandmother who had died long before I was born.
I find it interesting, even today, that Strange but True was made available to me while attending Catholic School --- through a newsletter, a book club. There was no doubt that I was meant to find Strange but True as early as I did. I do not know of anyone else in that fourth grade class who ordered the book. During my adult years, my mother often told me that I was a "weird kid." Maybe she was right, as ... apparently, I was the only kid in the fourth grade class who would rather read Strange but True instead of playing kickball.
A Couple of Years Earlier -- Flashback to Age Seven
So, as hinted above in my fourth grade/ nine year-old experience, it was while reading the booklet that I first encountered the notion of a past life memory which had spontaneously occurred two years earlier when I was seven years old and while I was in the second grade. Here's what happened:
I lay in bed one night with a fever induced by the flu. My grandmother was babysitting me that evening. She was in the living room watching TV. As I lay in bed feeling sick, I looked upward, into the darkness of the area just above my bed and saw a vision of myself as an adult woman living in some era far into the ancient past. The woman looked nothing like me as the present day seven year-old that I was. But somehow, I knew without a doubt that she and I were the same person. She appeared to be a temple priestess. How I knew this detail, I have no idea. I just knew she was in a temple setting and that she was a priestess. In my usual Catholic seven year-old brain, I didn't even know that women could be priests, and I certainly had never heard the word "priestess." Nevertheless, I concluded that the woman whom I saw in the vision which was playing out like a video in the darkness above my head, was a indeed an ancient priestess. I heard the word, "temple" in my mind, and I saw how she was dressed. Her job was to "help people." I understood the "help" part as I saw a man approach the woman. He fell to his knees and made and offering. I could tell that he was asking her for assistance with some problem. There was no sound accompanying this vision. The information was imparted like a waking dream. The vision continued to unfold before my eyes, a silent movie playing above my head. And just as with the previous incident that had occurred two years earlier when I was in kindergarten (at age five) and was given the message by the wise voice, I knew this time as well (at age seven) that the experience was going to be something which I’d remember vividly throughout the rest of my life. Such knowing was accompanied by a feeling .... a very powerful feeling .... of truth. In other words, while in that feverish altered state, I knew that what I was being shown was not something I was making up. That feeling (the knowing) caused goose bumps to stand on my arms, and it made a tingle run up my spine. That feeling resounded at the core of my being like the deep clear resonance of a bell.
Nevertheless, it was not until I actually read about past lives and reincarnation two years later (age nine) in Strange but True, that I actually put two and two together and understood the nature of the vision which had unfolded when I was seven. Just as Strange but True had defined the term spirit guide and also explained that everybody has them, the little book also explained that a phenomenon known as past life recall was also possible. Strange but True was a nifty little book because it gave actual definition, distinct verbiage, and documented accounts about various extra-dimensional phenomena which I had been seeing, feeling, hearing, and sensing -- since age three. The little book even offered examples for all the clairs .... clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and claircognizance. But, not only did the book define various extra-dimensional phenomena, it also let me know that I was not alone in my experiences. According to Strange but True, there were people all throughout history who had written or spoken about having these kinds of experiences!
Happenings I Could Tell No One Except my Nonna
During my childhood, I routinely saw and felt the presence of spirit in the house where I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, a home on Saint Anthony Avenue not far from Lake Pontchartrain. Though, none of my four siblings nor my parents ever indicated that they too detected the presence. I also felt and experienced physical phenomenon occurring in my bedroom where I slept (or tried to sleep) at my maternal grandmother's house which was located on O'Reilly Street in an older neighborhood of the city. Sometimes when something strange had taken place, I’d call out to my grandmother (Nonna). In Italian I'd tell Nonna that the spirit of La Signora Caruso (Mrs. Caruso) was in my bedroom. La Signora Caruso had lived in the house before my grandparents decided to rent it. And my room had been Mrs. Caruso's former bedroom.
In any case, my wonderful grandmother would rush into the bedroom to comfort me. She never poo-pooed my experiences, but instead, she’d reassure me in her own way. As a devout Catholic lady, Nonna would say to me in Italian, "Don't worry, Dina. Spirits can't harm you. Just say a prayer to Jesus and you will be protected." She'd smile and then would lead me in the recitation of Angelo di Dio, a Guardian Angel prayer, which Italian children are taught to say at bedtime.
Nonna was correct, no harm ever came from Mrs. Caruso. Though the old lady's creepy presence in my room often kept me from having a good night's sleep whenever I spent the weekends at Nonna's house, which was quite often. Mrs. Caruso's spirit communicated her presence by turning on the lamp light next to my bed. This playful "I'm here!" ... only happened at night, right before bedtime.That's when Nonna would come rushing into the room to turn off the light and to say a prayer with me. I was freaked out, but Nonna was matter-of-fact about it all. She'd turn the lamp off in a casual way. And ... in her own ghostly matter-of-fact style, La Signora Caruso would turn it back on!
Nonna would turn it off once more, and the lamp would go back on again! And this would continue a few times until we finished our prayer and Nonna gave me a kiss goodnight. To reassure me she'd say, "Remember, Dina, Nonno (grandfather) and I are just in the next room if you need us." Now, many decades later, I see how Spirit was verifying that what I was perceiving of their world was real and that there was no need to fear. Mrs. Caruso knew that I could feel her presence by way of clairesentience. I felt it throughout the day in the rooms and long hallway of Nonna's drafty old house. The lamp light phenomenon was the spirit's way of acknowledging that I perceived her during the light of day, and at night when things got quiet and I was in her room, she'd make her presence known.
Past Life Memories in Italy
At age 8 while looking at a third grade history book, I saw a photo of a street in the ancient city of Pompeii. I recognized a statue in the picture and instantly had a "knowing" that I had been there before and also that one day I'd return again to stand next to that statue. The key word here is "again." So, often while feeling bored by whatever the teacher was lecturing about that day in third grade, I'd quietly open my history book to the Pompeii page and focus upon the photo, all the while enjoying the awesome feeling of inexplicable familiarity.
At age 12 I took my first trip to Europe with my parents. In addition to having a reunion with my favorite statue when we visited Pompeii, another blast from the past took place while my parents hired a carriage driver to give us a horse and buggy ride through the streets of Rome. As we were going down the Appian Way, I recall turning my head to focus upon one particular sepulcher, one of many tombs which line the Way. For some reason I felt drawn to look at that one tomb, and in my head I clairaudiently heard the name "Livia" as our horse clip-clopped past the monument. I knew it was my tomb (as Livia) and that I was the daughter of a senator. I knew that I had had an affair with another senator. I was his mistress. This was quite shocking to my 12-year-old Catholic schoolgirl mind. I thought I was going crazy. Yet, as with all spontaneous past life memories which I've experienced throughout my life, it was not just the striking facts that stood out. It was also the feelings which accompanied the instant download of data that made me go, "Wow! What's that all about!?"
At age 18, I returned to Europe the summer before I started college. This time it was just my mother and I on the trip. One quiet weekday afternoon, we walked the lonely ancient streets of Spello, a small village in Central Italy (Umbria). The village was pre-Roman, built by the Etruscans. I strayed from my Mom for a while, finding my own way down the winding pathway amid a mixture of intact, presently occupied structures along with some partial walls, ruins of long ago. Without thinking of what I was doing but simply following my intuition, I found myself placing my hands upon one partial stone wall. As if instantly teleported to another time and place, my superconscious mind downloaded scenes from an ancient past. Little did I know that my mother was standing a few feet behind me. Perplexed, she asked, "What are you doing?" Needless to say, I was both startled and a bit embarrassed. "Oh, nothing," I replied. "I'm just looking at this stone." Thinking back on that experience, I do not feel that I was downloading my own past life from those stones in the walls of Spello. There was nothing in particular that related to me, as in other examples given above. Rather, I believe this was a simple case of spontaneous psychometry (perceiving energy imprints from material objects).
Deep Theta at Age 13
It happened at age thirteen when I spontaneously entered a trance state one summer evening. This event took place as I was turning the key to the front door of my home. I had just returned from spending the hot, humid summer day riding my bicycle all over New Orleans with my friend, a girl from school. My friend had gone home. I was alone as I approached my front porch. Nevertheless, as I turned the key to unlock my front door, suddenly a voice similar to the one I had heard at age five while in kindergarten told me to turn my head and to look upward at the sky. The voice spoke through me, and I say, "spoke through me" because this time I spoke aloud while feeling myself drifting into a very relaxed, dreamy state. The experience felt strange, but it was not frightening. It was as if the "real me" (the me in beta brainwave state) were suddenly outside myself, watching as my wrist was still holding the key in the door lock. The entire experience was spontaneous, happening in all of a minute or so. As my head turned to the twilight summer sky, the pastel pink, azure, and golden hues opened to a vision of a crystal city with resplendent, shimmering buildings that looked like nothing I had ever seen before in life. I felt a deep, sad longing, for I recognized the city, and a voice much wiser than that of my thirteen-year-old body spoke through me.
At age thirteen I did not know whom to attribute the voice, but now I would simply define that voice as having come from my Higher Self ... or even perhaps from a spirit guide. I've since learned of a phenomenon called trance mediumship, and feel that this was indeed an example of trance mediumship. The voice spoke through my own lips, saying, “That is your real home. You belong here with us, but for now you have to continue living where you are." Just as quickly as the voice and the trance state had replaced my everyday conscious mind, I snapped back to 3D reality, knowing that just like the time when the voice had spoken to me in my head while in kindergarten class, this too would be an event which I'd remember forever. And like the kindergarten experience, this time I felt the longing of "that place" ... and how I wished I could return there --- but it just wasn't the right time yet.
My awareness of spirit continued well into my teens --- and into my adulthood. The encounters are too many to list here. But I'll highlight a couple. One of particular interest and which happened during my high school years often involved interactions with a kindly spirit who would enter my room late at night to urge me to get to bed when I was staying up too late. This energy had a grandmotherly or nanny-like feeling to it. I recall how the fuzz on the nape of my neck would rise and I'd feel the guardian presence entering the room as it proceeded to sit next to me on my bed as I stayed up late on school nights, writing poetry or reading a magazine. My parents thought I was long asleep, but sometimes I'd get so enthralled with reading or writing that it would be two or three o'clock in the morning before I'd get to bed, and I had to rise at seven to get ready for school the next day. Nevertheless, on such nights, often the guardian spirit would come into the room to nudge me and tell me I should hasten to bed. Sometimes I'd ignore her (I knew it was a she), and when she got persistent, I'd shut my book and huff aloud, "Okay! Okay! You win. I'm going to bed!"
During my teens, I was also aware of a preteen boy whom I perceived as living inside the rear wall of my room. Nowadays I know that such a perception (someone living in the wall) was simply my mind's way of perceiving the dimensional difference between 3D and a finer dimension, like 4D or 5D. I never spoke of this phenomenon because it would have just sounded too crazy to anyone in my world at that time. But one day when I was sixteen years old, my junior year in high school, I was sitting at the lunch table with a few other girls, and as a topic of conversation, one of the girls told the rest of us a story about a boy whom she saw living in the wall of her bedroom! Imagine my surprise when I heard that. I said, "You're kidding! I have the same thing happening to me at my house ... a boy who lives in the wall of my room!" I recall how the classmate looked at me as if she thought I were making up my story because she had just told us all something incredulous and seemingly unique. What were the odds that I too could be seeing such a thing? I honestly do not know the answer to that question. Perhaps the boy was trying to reach one of us to convey a message. Maybe he was haunting the more mediumistically awakened girls who sat at our lunch table. Whatever the case may be, the synchronicity of it was true! I still do not know why that girl at the lunch table and I had both experienced the same phenomenon ... or why she had elected to tell us all about it that day. That could just as well have been me telling the same story to the other girls. The experience was exactly the same. Was it all just coincidence? As I look back on that tale I know that again, this was Spirit's way of confirming that my own experiences were real.
High School Heretic
During my junior year in a girls' Catholic high school in New Orleans, our religion teacher, Mrs. L., was reviewing the history of the Roman Catholic Church. One day she began covering the First Council of Nicea held in 325 AD under the rule of Emperor Constantine. As my classmates and I sat busily taking notes from the dry, boring lecture which our teacher read straight from a text book, the instructor introduced us to the term "Gnostic." She told us that the Gnostics were considered heretics by the Church Fathers. Our instructor said that the Gnostic teachings were impure, blasphemous. So, the Church Fathers "cleansed " Gnostic thought from Church doctrine. "Gnostic books were expunged from gospel teachings," said Mrs. L.
I recall vividly how something inside my being resonated when I heard the word, "Gnostic." I could not explain how or why I felt such resonance. I just knew it was there. Mrs. L. said that the Gnostics were heretical mystics. Perhaps it was a reference to mysticism that got my attention. Nevertheless, "Gnostics and Gnosticism" were new words in my vocabulary, and the concept of their (the Gnostics') heretical books having been expunged from Church teachings piqued my interest. So, I raised my hand and asked," Why were these teachings considered heretical?" To this, my teacher replied, "Because they were not considered appropriate by the Church Fathers." With sincere curiosity and a desire to know more, I asked again, "But what was it about their (Gnostic) teachings that was considered unacceptable?" In a matter-of-fact tone, my teacher shrugged her shoulders and repeated, "The teachings did not fit Catholic doctrine." Needless to say, I was perplexed by the instructor's redundant response. She not only appeared mildly uncomfortable by my question, but she seemed to be in a hurry to move on with her text book monologue.
Over the next several days as the teacher continued her lecture about early Church history, once again, the term "Gnostic" was repeated. Again, I raised my hand. In fact, as I recall ... during the entire week of that lecture on the early Roman Catholic Church, I was the only student who raised my hand to ask any questions of Mrs. L. Normally the teachers of all other subjects: Math, Science, English, History ... encouraged students to ask questions. But my religion teacher seemed annoyed. Nevertheless, when I asked yet again, "But ... who were the Gnostics and where did they come from?" her reply was, "They were considered heretical mystics from throughout the Middle East." She emphasized, "All you need to know is that their teachings were heretical and that the Gnostic texts are not part of what we believe today."
My teacher's circular logic not only surprised me but also intensified my curiosity. Since I had no actual knowledge about the Gnostics at the time, I was naive about any true reason behind my teacher's evasiveness. Nevertheless, one day, just after the end of class bell rang, Mrs. L. called my name and asked me to see her after class. Since I was an A+ student, who always paid attention in class, one who always did her homework, one who was among the best in class participation, and one who never was a trouble-maker ... I was astonished when my teacher proceeded to inform me that I was on the verge of being suspended just before final exams, and thus, if that happened, I would fail my junior year. The teacher said: "You are disrupting my class with your questions. And I want it to stop!"
"What?!" I thought silently to myself, "I thought teachers liked questions. Anyway ... all the other teachers like good questions from their students because this means the students are interested in the subject matter ... and that students who ask questions are engaged in the learning process!" I did not articulate this thought in those exact words. Instead I innocently told the teacher that my questions were sincere, and that I was asking them because I really did want to understand more about the Gnostics.
"All you need to know is what I am giving you," continued Mrs. L. "My lesson plans are reviewed by Mother C. (the school principal) ... and if the curriculum is good enough for Mother C. then it is good enough for you! "
My religion teacher said sternly, "... And if you don't stop disrupting my class with your questions, I will report you to Mother C. for insubordination. You will be suspended from school. Next week, final exams start, and you will miss those exams if you are suspended. If you continue your insubordinate behavior in my class, you will fail your junior year because you'll miss your exams!"
Rather than argue the point with the teacher, I simply nodded my head in the affirmative when she asked me if I understood her threat. What actually happened in that moment was what I later understood to be a microcosmic example of that which I had been innocently questioning about the Gnostics. Just as early Church theologians and Christian sects that were not affiliated with the Roman government had been persecuted, even annihilated for thought that was not in step with papal doctrine (Eg: the Cathars who suffered genocide by the Catholic papacy for espousing a different brand of Christianity that was not approved by the Roman Church). Likewise, in an infinitesimal way, I was being told to "shut up" in my 1978 high school religion class. "No free thinking allowed here!" was the message I heard loud and clear on that day when Mrs. L. called me to her desk after class.
After the teacher dismissed me and I walked back to my locker in the hall to get my books for next period's class, I felt something had shifted inside me. It was my first conscious realization that the so-called truths which my respected elders had been offering ... may not have been necessarily "the truth" with a capital "T." Obviously, there was more to this spiritual story, and I was to spend the rest of my adult years uncovering what the untold story might be. With an open mind, a mind that accepted nothing at face value, I spent hours on weekends at the Main Branch of the New Orleans Public Library, Loyola University Library, University of New Orleans Library, or the Tulane University Library. The old-fashioned card catalog in the library lobbies held within them breadcrumbs, hints amid my quest to discover esoteric mysteries and hidden knowledge of the forbidden mystics. It was at the library where I encountered the works of spiritual scholars such as Edgar Cayce, Manly P. Hall, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Joseph Campbell, Florence Scovel Shinn, and Helena Blavatsky ... just to name a few ... of the historical, theological, and philosophical written discourses which gave me plenty of data to compare and contrast with the official spiritual story I had been given from elementary school catechism until that momentous experience in high school religion class when my questions almost got me kicked out of school.
The journey is on-going, for I continue to mindfully maintain what Saul (my late husband) referred to as "an empty cup." According to Eastern teachings, one who holds an empty cup is one who is willing to admit that he or she never knows enough, and thus, is willing to allow more information, knowledge, and experience to fill the cup. That data is digested, assessed, processed ...and the cup is ever empty and ready to be refilled.
As for the Gnostics of old, I discovered that I myself had lived the Gnostic path in at least one former lifetime. And since Gnosticism is defined by a way of life by which there is attainment of knowledge by experiential and intuitive means ... I consider myself a Gnostic still today.
Married Life with a Warrior Shaman -- the Aikido Sensei
Throughout my college years and later into my young adulthood --- after I got married in 1983 -- extra- dimensional encounters continued on a regular basis. Such encounters included: spontaneous out of body meetings with deceased relatives like my cousin Linda who committed suicide, and my grandmother, Nonna. (Both Linda and Nonna had passed away in the mid-1980s.) Besides these family members, I routinely received dream visits and special messages delivered by loved ones and pets who had passed on ---- as well as the occasional visit from a stranger for the purpose of delivering a message for someone else. It was during age twenty-seven after moving to forty acres of remote desert property that bordered the Navajo Nation outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, in August of 1990, that I had a first-hand out of body encounter with my primary healing guide, a Native American man who lived in Wyoming when he was alive. I've referenced him earlier, S.W.H.H. This guide still works with me when I perform shamanic duties such as a PLSR session, bodywork, and energy healing for others. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the aforementioned services please visit my bodywork website at: www.lifeforcemassage.net.
But back to my life with the Warrior Shaman -- For 33 magical years, I was married to a master martial artist and mystic, Saul Lewis Smithson. I use the word "mystic" because even though Saul was a practical, funny, down to earth person, anyone who knew him also knew that he had a mystical quality about him. For instance, he was not only an accomplished stage magician, but he also could read auras and could astral travel at will. He also could effortlessly (using ki) toss around bulky, muscular, young, virile martial arts students who were forty and fifty years his junior. As if those strong young men were made of paper mache instead of flesh and bone, their Sensei, Saul Smithson, would demonstrate the use of ki, and his students would fly across the Aikido mat in the flash of an eye. Saul would chuckle as his students shook their heads in amazement, laughing as well, for often their Sensei could achieve such a feat before even touching any one of them ... and by simply redirecting the opponent's energy field! The strength of Saul’s ki (lifeforce energy) continued well into his later years when he was in his late 70's before his passing at seventy-seven. To say that Saul and I were compatible as husband and wife is an understatement. We were truly the loves of one another's lives. Below is a summary of the many things which I learned by sharing life with my Warrior Shaman, my Aikido Sensei, Saul:
My Primary Earthly Mentor in the Healing Arts
Beginning in 1982 and throughout the 33 years of marriage to my primary mentor and beloved late husband, Saul Lewis Smithson, I learned such arts as Holistic Massage, Reflexology, Sound Therapy, and Energy Healing techniques. I learned these modalities directly from Saul.
Saul Smithson was a Judo and Aikido master, practicing the martial arts for 72 years. Saul's years of esoteric studies began at the age of five and continued throughout his young adulthood under the direct tutelage of six first-lineage, first-generational Japanese and Chinese martial arts masters. With Aikido lived as Saul's "way of life" Saul continued his own teaching of the martial arts as well as his practice and teaching of holistic modalities (applied kinesiology, holistic massage, and acupressure therapy) as passed down to him by his teachers. From his mentors, Saul also learned and practiced spiritual and esoteric modalities such as aura-reading, astral projection, Zen Meditation, hypnotherapy, handwriting analysis, and the writing of Japanese koan poetry. Saul also was a practitioner of Chinese Astrology, Feng Shui, and Oriental Brush Art. He practiced and taught all of these art forms until his passing at age 77 on February 7, 2014.
I (Dina) took my first 45-hour hands-on holistic massage class at the University of New Orleans with Saul Smithson as the instructor in 1982. That was in the days before massage was even popularly accepted as a healing modality. What I learned throughout my years with Saul cannot be sufficiently summarized in a few paragraphs. There's just no way to do it! Suffice it to say that even in Spirit his influence continues, especially with regard to my own spiritual unfolding process -- astral travels, afterlife communication, and PLSR hypnotherapy.
Additional Studies and Influential Mentors
In 1996, I attended classes at the Center for Reiki Training in Flagstaff, Arizona, under the direction of Master Reiki Instructor, Melinda DeBoer-Ayrey. I received attunement for Levels I and II Reiki certification. In addition to Reiki, I utilize a healing modality, the knowledge of which was passed on to me in 1997 by a Shamanic Practitioner of 40 years, Ms. T. D. of Flagstaff, Arizona. In the 1950's a legacy (symbolized by a sacred artifact) was given to T.D. by her own teacher, a Native American Medicine Man of Wyoming. The Medicine Man was the 7th son of a 7th son, his father a medicine man as well, who fought in the Battle of Little Big Horn against the notorious General Custer. It was this warrior who first obtained the artifact during his vision quest. At age 16, when T.D. was given the artifact during her own shamanic initiation, the Medicine Man told T.D. that 40 years into the future, she would pass the artifact down to a specified person. In 1997, during my 36th birthday celebration, T.D. showed up unexpectedly at the party. She quietly took me aside and presented me with the sacred artifact from the Native American teacher.
T.D. also related to me that her teacher whom she had known when he was alive in this world -- was also my teacher now -- and that he was available to me for guidance and protection anytime that I requested it from him. In other words, T.D.'s mentor who had initiated her as a shaman when she was sixteen also became my mentor from the Spirit World as a spirit guide. But long before this day of revelation, seven years earlier, I had met the Medicine Man on my own during an out of body experience (referenced earlier). Of course, at the time, I had no idea that he was T.D. 's teacher. Nevertheless, T. D’s attendance at my birthday party and the gift which she offered me (the artifact) were elements of verification and confirmation to me about the significance of the OBE meeting with this guide seven years before I had met T.D. and before she gifted me the artifact or told me the name of the guide, her teacher. The aforementioned Native American shaman (my Spirit Guide) transitioned to the Spirit World on the night of October 31, 1994, at the age of 94. He remains an inspiration to my work today, and he is my primary spirit guide, especially in the fulfillment of my dharma in the healing arts - Past Life Soul Regression Hypnotherapy, Energy Enhancement (Reiki) and Mediumship Development.
Past Life and Afterlife Studies
In 2016 --- at the prompting of my spirit guide S.W.H. H (mentioned above), I enrolled in PLSR hypnotherapy classes taught by Dr. Linda Backman at the Ravenheart Center in Boulder, Colorado. Through my studies with the Center, I became a Certified Past Life Soul Regression Hypnotherapist.
In addition to experience with the above-mentioned disciplines and mentors, I practiced yoga. During years of practice, starting with Hatha Yoga and later Kundalini Yoga, my feel for the Enhancement of LifeForce Energy known as "chi," "ki," or "prana” intensified. After Saul's passing in 2014, messages from the Spirit World have increased with intensity and in frequency, and in 2016 I became a member of the Afterlife Education and Research Institute www.afterlifeinstitute.org. Becoming a member of the Institute is a great way for me to stay informed about scientific breakthroughs in the field of afterlife communication, a field that is my passion. Through the Afterlife Education and Research Institute, I took a course under the direction of Dr. R. Craig Hogan. I had already started communicating and "hearing" my departed husband, Saul, just hours after he passed, but with Dr. Hogan's course I learned to hone my awakened mediumistic skills so that I can more readily communicate with Saul and other departed relatives ... anytime I wish. The course is free, and I encourage anyone who wishes to learn how to easily communicate with a departed loved one to investigate Dr. Hogan's site. Previous mediumistic skills and experience are not necessary to take the course.
In 2016 while in search of an existing mediumship development circle in my area --- and to no avail in that search -- I learned of a wonderful organization based out of the U.K., SNUi (Spiritualists National Union International). I became a member of SNUi and have joined in some of their informal mediumship development circles. These are online development circles. The organization also offers an intensive formal training program for those who wish to become certified under the organization's tutelage. As of yet, I have not partaken of the formal program. Simply attending the bi-weekly spiritualist services and randomly joining an informal online development circle has been fun and rewarding. Anyone interested in SNUi, please check out www.snui.org.
For me, the exploration of various modalities in the healing and spiritual arts is an on-going unfolding process of learning, growing, and experiencing the many layers of multi-dimensional existence. Since Saul's passing in February of 2014, my ability to clearly connect with him and others in the Spirit Realm has deepened immensely. Saul was my earthly protector in life, and now that he has transitioned to spirit, he remains my guardian angel in heaven! He and my Native American guide are the strongest allies in the work which I perform in the field of health, inspirational writing, and consciousness expansion.
Thank you for taking the time to learn a bit about who I am and what motivates me in this fascinating field of Past Life Soul Regression Hypnotherapy. I value and treasure each experience that I am called upon to facilitate for a PLSR client. My heart is happy to be there with you on your sacred quest.
Love, Peace, and Joy,