Valerie Pavilonis

We were preordained to find Wisdom on our fated 1 a.m. stroll back from Bass Library.

As the Gothic spires watched us in the darkness, an untied shoelace led to a brief stop at a nearby bench. The bundle that waited a few feet away would change the course of the universe forever. At first, it seemed a mere stack of thin magazines, their bright covers visible even in the dim street light. We felt compelled by a dark and mysterious force beyond our control to slip a few copies into our backpacks. And so the early morning saw us sitting cross-legged on a twin bed, hands stained with news ink, reading through a publication unlike any we had read before. Something higher had found us. Welcome to our obsession, our Bible, our calling: Wisdom of the Heavens, Earth, Body, Mind and Soul.

According to www.wisdom-magazine.com, Wisdom is the “largest free bi-monthly holistic, spiritual, metaphysical magazine … serving the culturally creative community … in the Northeastern U.S., with total readership estimated at almost 450,000 readers per issue.” The print version lists a subscription cost of 18 dollars a year. What is a holistic spiritual metaphysical magazine? What do those three adjectives mean all next to each other? What actual class work did we have to finish this week anyway? We turned to Wisdom to orient our holistic metaphysical energies, learn what our pet is thinking, and maybe give high-strung Yalies some much needed inner peace.

Once we were able to get past the cover that attracted us that portentous night — it features an elf-like woman-turned butterfly who sports a beautiful set of red-orange wings while a butterfly rests on her tattooed arm — we found pages of classified ads. Some promised “specialized healing,” others marketed “spiritual retreats,” and still others promoted “past-life readings.” One advertised a glassy pendant that simultaneously “protects you from other people’s negative energy” and “helps strengthen the immune system.” Another advertisement for a health clinic specializing in “scientifically based alternative therapies” promised a “healing sanctuary” for patients with health issues ranging from fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s to cancer and heart disease.

Turning past the ads in this September/October issue brought us to a featured excerpt from the piece “Dancing with Raven and Bear” by Sonja Grace. Ominously titled “Chapter 8: Holding the Darkness at Bay,” it describes a fable-like episode between the characters Bear, The Creator, Earth, the Goddess and Darkness, except — spoiler alert — Earth, the Goddess and The Creator are the same person. First, The Creator gives Bear a drum and instructions to “sing his songs when there is darkness he cannot escape.” Sure enough, Bear attracts a big cumulus cloud of nasty darkness. Bear gets scared, beating his drum and singing his songs, so “The Earth’s energy came up through his feet and Bear suddenly felt grounded and not afraid.” But the Darkness does not go away. Bear forgot to use his inner light with each song! Rookie mistake. Once Bear knows to emit his inner light from his chest, “the sound waves mixed with the light waves beaming from his heart,” and the weather clears.

But, allegorical fiction is only a sliver of Wisdom’s diverse writing. The magazine is home to homeopathic science articles, write-in supernatural communication columns, self-help and notices about local events like the pagan festival Samhain on Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Courtyard Marriott Nashua at 2200 Southwood Dr. in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Hope to see you there.)

Wisdom September/October 2018 showcased the excerpt “Tantric Journey: Going Deep, Going Slow, Going Wild,” the eighth chapter in “Tantric Sex & Menopause” by Diana Richardson and Janet McGeever. According to Wisdom, Richardson wrote the book “Tantric Orgasm for Women and Slow Sex.” Since 1993, she has taught weeklong “Making Love Retreats” for couples with her partner Michael.

The excerpt featured in Wisdom explains that many perimenopausal and menopausal women “report feeling such a lack of desire for sex that they feel totally disheartened that they are not living up to the image of what a sexy alive woman should be.” However, you will be relieved to learn that “such views only hold true as long as we see ourselves from the outside in an external way.” Richardson and McGeever aver that “reclaiming your body and becoming ‘embodied’ implies seeing, feeling and experiencing yourself from the inside out.” Thankfully, “the good thing about feeling a lack of desire is that if women participate in stepping over that threshold of whether there is desire there or not, … she will find that she has no trouble eventually feeling aroused and certainly may even orgasm in a way that involves no effort at all. Or move into the expanded ‘orgasmic’ state, which is very different to the event of orgasm, over after a few seconds.”

Each time we flip through the magazine, we find something we previously overlooked. Recovery from addiction, herbal education, fantasy art, healing crystals, therapeutic tarot, massage training, book reviews, “Curious about essentials? Of course you are!” professional angel reader, soul coach, dinosaur shop, reflexology, bead store, horoscopes, “WHAT YOU SEEK IS SEEKING YOU,” heartbreak healing, “Plants That Speak, Mouths That Sing,” personal mythology … The list, quite honestly, never ends.

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Wisdom’s publisher Mary Arsenault says the periodical’s goal is to “educate the general public on the philosophies, products and services of the ‘new age.’” According to Arsenault, Wisdom’s premise is that “we’re all energetic beings connected to each other and everything energetically.” The magazine serves “to provide alternatives to mainstream ways of thinking.” Arsenault thinks Wisdom offers people with heterodox philosophies and abilities a space where their skills are “perceived as a gift instead of a curse.” It attempts to “normalize the weird.” Kind of like Yale.

When asked about how Wisdom generates content, Arsenault said the publication has “several columnists who have been writing for us for many years, consistently providing us with high quality articles related to their fields of expertise.” It also receives many submissions.

“We look for articles that are timely, well-written by people with the appropriate credentials,” Arsenault said. This very article will be submitted to the November/December issue.

Who is Wisdom’s typical reader? Arsenault gives the example of a person “who is clairvoyant” and “may have been told by mainstream religious leaders that this ability is ‘evil and from the devil’ and that ‘they shouldn’t indulge in it.’” However, Wisdom’s average clairvoyant Joe “doesn’t feel evil, maybe has no control over receiving this kind of information,” and is dependent on spaces like Wisdom to feel at home.

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“It’s a wonderful thing that Wisdom provides the opportunity for people like me to bring forth ancient teachings and wisdom in written form and also provides an opportunity for people to get close to Nature,” says Cie Simurro, also known as Thunderbird Starwoman, a contributor to the magazine. “The magazine provides a forum for ideas and practices that might not otherwise be available.”

Thunderbird Starwoman is a healer, minister, advocate and steward for the natural world. Boasting experience in writing, medicine, human connection to nature, a “Ceremony for Turning Points of your Life” and a pre-prepared “Dress to Express Your Essence” presentation, Thunderbird Starwoman believes in and focuses on self-healing, and what Thunderbird Starwoman calls “eating one’s own Medicine.”

“This leads one to the modalities that one will use in one’s practice,” Thunderbird Starwoman explained. “I’ve been doing both writing and healing work for 45 years. I began by holding a ‘Search For God’ group based on the Edgar Cayce readings at my home for 11 years. … Eventually, my love for the Earth led me to indigenous teachings that resonated with my deepest values.” Thunderbird Starwoman also speaks about studying ancient civilizations like Egypt and Lemuria.

In additional to philosophies about medicine, Thunderbird Starwoman preaches her understanding of nature through Wisdom: “We are in a grand partnership with Nature. Everything is an extension of Source Energy. Everything is Alive. Everything has Consciousness and Intelligence. All of Life is One Family. Therefore, Let us have Reverence for All Life.”

In a life devoted to the healing arts, connection with nature and ancient universal wisdom, how could one ever pinpoint the most rewarding memory or moment? Thunderbird Starwoman, though, can remember the exact one. Thunderbird Starwoman recounts a story of a blue heron:

“While I was caretaking an estate with a swamp area in the back, I got to save a Great Blue Heron’s life. Both my dog Thunder and I flushed out the heron from the reeds, but it remained in the shallow waters of the adjacent pond. Looking hard at it, I saw that it had a blue plastic ring from one of those stacking rings toys that children play with, around the top of its beak. I knew it wouldn’t be able to open the beak or eat, so after getting the heron used to my presence, I walked into the water and slowly wrapped my arms around what appeared to be a 2-year-old heron. After a moment, the heron let me jimmy off the plastic ring. I quickly removed myself from its presence so it wouldn’t be traumatized, but it didn’t fly or move away. I sat on the shoreline while we communed for a while before I left the pond area. Always, after that, the heron I named Blu always let Thunder and I be nearby when it was fishing for food.”

Published in this issue of Wisdom is the first part of Thunderbird Starwoman’s story, “Totems.” The story is an ode to fulfilment in life. After praising the power of song, Thunderbird Starwoman considers the eternal question of who will be the “choirmaster” for the “songfest.” She concludes, “Why Mockingbird, of course.”

Being a columnist in Wisdom for 15 years has taught Thunderbird Starwoman the art of storytelling rooted in nature, healing and ancient wisdom. We anxiously await the second part of Thunderbird Starwoman’s story in the November/December issue.

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Animal Communicator Jennifer Dickman could have served as mediator in Thunderbird Starwoman’s heron encounter. Dickman is a specialist in Pet Reiki, which means she is a psychic and healer for animals, (though, of course, this description leaves out some of the nuance). Like Thunderbird Starwoman, she is a Wisdom regular, having been a columnist since January 2009. Dickman says the most gratifying thing about being an animal communicator is “helping animals communicate things they’ve been trying to express with no success” and assisting “vets who are stumped.” She generously took on the assignment to communicate with our dog, Dutch, or Dutchy to his friends.

We wanted insight into Dutchy’s thunderstorm anxiety, as well as to know if he missed us when we are away at school. With just a picture of the poodle for reference, Dickman relayed, “Dutch is saying that what’s most important in keeping him calm is the energy of the people with him. He needs everyone around him to send calm and love, not anticipate him being nervous or reacting to thunder, etc.”

As far as our long-distance relationship with our dog, Dickman communicated to us that “Dutch is always connected to you,” that “while he misses you, he doesn’t feel the distance the way you do” and that our relationship is “okay from his perspective.” Dickman encouraged us to “picture him until you feel a connection, like you’re hugging him, and send him love, picture anything you want to tell him.” She bets “after a few attempts you’ll be able to feel the love coming back to you” and that “with more practice, you might get impressions, too.”

Then Dickman said, “You just really need to open your mind and turn off the skeptical, disbelieving part of your brain and just let whatever happens come to you.”

But, we need more than just canine companionship. Buried between medium hotlines and homeopathic medicine workshops, a holistic spiritual metaphysical dating website was the thing we never realized we desperately needed. Launched in 2000, Spiritualsingles.com is “the best dating site for spiritual, conscious and mindful singles.” It has “facilitated conscious connections and marriages for thousands of spiritual, open-minded singles.” The site encourages “conscious” matchmaking with profile fields like Eco-Consciousness, Spirituality, Ethics, Sun Sign, Rising Sign and Chinese Sign. Take, for example, “SevaTheEnlightened” from Hebron, Connecticut. He has a “muscular/athletic” body type and follows a “personal spiritual path.”

We spent a lot of time crafting our Spritualsingles.com profile: “Was Jainist for a few years but back to agnostic. Just looking for someone thoughtful and sweet. Where I’m at school now the guys kind of suck.” Unfortunately, much to our chagrin and confusion, Spiritualsingles.com rejected both of our profile photos and then axed our account. If anyone runs across Spritualsingles.com user “ReadyToMingle,” please email sentients0ul1@gmail.com and let us know. All we were looking for from their drop-down menu was a friend. That, or a celibate marriage.

We fell into this mystical fate as the heavenly bodies revolved in their ellipses. We should have known a Taurus and an Aries exploring a smoggy September evening under the meek wink of a waning gibbous invited a quest that would change our fate. The Creator left us our own Drums masked in earthly “periodical” garb. This article is our Blu Heron, our light and our sound, coming from our chest with the waves mixing. Right now. Be enlightened, okay?

Shayna Elliot | Emily Schussheim

shayna.elliot@yale.edu | emily.schussheim@yale.edu