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By Marlene Harris


Around 15 years ago Calgary First Spiritualist Church enjoyed visits from Rosa Trakostanec, also known as Rosie White Elk Medicine Woman, a spirit medium working as shamanic healer, teacher and master practitioner of the healing arts, based mostly in Port Coquitlam, B.C. The day before giving her Sunday lecture, titled “A Tool to Quiet the Mind”, she arrived at our Saturday’s Advanced Energy Healing session to experience a trance healing. At the end of our healing hour, when all the recipients had moved out of the client care room which was downstairs then, and when I was just straightening up the chairs, I noticed a pipe wrench was left sitting on a chair in the same area where Rosa had been sitting. And I wondered if she had forgotten the tool she would be using the following day to quiet our minds! Fortunately it was not that tool!


The tool Rosa talked about was the ability to keep one’s mind focused on the present moment, obliterating all thoughts from the past and all worries about the future.  Only in the present moment does healing occur, and miracles take place. Eckhart Tolle has written extensively about the “Power of Now”.  ASHA’s retreat this year at the Priddis Spiritwood Retreat gifted 18 participants with a variety of tools to quiet the mind by experiencing the POWER of NOW: Prayers, Qi Gong movements, pendulum work, La Poodella’s insights, and soundscape frequencies, to say nothing about the fabulous lunch provided!


A big thank you goes to the very helpful team of ASHA healers who generously volunteered their time to ensure the success of this retreat: event committee members Rev. Bette Wood, Lelania Diniakos & Sandy Estabrook,  with Bette as organizer, Bette & Lelania as shoppers who prepared an exquisite lunch, and Sandy who contributed to  kitchen clean up; Loraleigh Peterson as greeter and treasurer who dealt with contracts and accepted payments online and at the door; all drivers who offered ride share;  all ASHA members who contributed to its Angel Fund; and all those who assisted Doug McMurray and Sidney Clayton with take down and clean up at the end.

Doug McMurray, ASHA’s president, welcomed everyone and gave the opening remarks, followed  by Trudy Mayer, owner of Spiritwood, Priddis, who also gave a warm welcome to everyone, along with a few housekeeping details.  Rev. Bette Wood then honoured our spiritual connection to the Light and the ‘power of now’ with an opening prayer, the perfect lead in to the first major activity of the day: Qi Gong movement sequences aptly directed by Joanne Clarkson.  With such relaxing, slow and graceful movements through our auric fields, we all turned into angels enjoying what could be called ‘spiritual line dancing’.

Qi Gong movements look and may feel quite innocuous but many years ago I was made aware of their amazing power.  A teenage boy, about 18 years old was describing his experience as a participant in a long weekend Qi Gong retreat. He and a friend had worked as partners for the final confirmation of the power coming through their auric fields at the end of the 3 days. For the final test, this boy was standing about 10 to 15 feet behind his friend who was facing away from him, so that his friend could not see anything taking place behind him. The boy behind was instructed to do some Qi Gong sequences and then at one point, without indicating to the friend in front, he was to extend his open hands, arms and body slightly ahead and very forcefully give a big push in the air toward his friend’s back.  The boy doing the pushing said he could hardly believe his eyes when his friend just about fell forward onto the floor! This was obviously an indication of the ‘power of now’!  Qi Gong is said to merge martial arts, meditation and breathing to enhance the flow of one’s life force. Joanne admitted to us that practising Qi Gong exercises has been truly transformational for her, changing her life for the better. Thank you, Sandy, for putting us in touch with Joanne!

Next came our first session of ‘Working with the Pendulum’, facilitated by our expert dowser, Louise Gebhart, who would continue with her second session after lunchtime. Unlike the sweeping body movements of Qi Gong, we could instead all sit down and watch the sweeping movements of our pendulums! Louise first issued some important guidelines when using the pendulum:

  • Begin with the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  • Always keep a positive mindset because the pendulum will pick up your most frequent thoughts.

  • Have compassion.

  • Use simple and precise questions that can be answered with a yes or no. It’s often wise to make the first question “Is this a good time to ask this question?”

  • The pendulum is an honest system and coincides with the natural laws of the universe.

  • Ask for permission before asking questions pertaining to others. You have to be invited in.

  • Pendulum work is good for gathering information.

  • It’s our intention that makes the pendulum work.

  • Once blockages caused by trauma have been removed, you must fill the space with positive energies that are for the highest good of everyone.

After working diligently in dyads or triads, asking multitudes of questions, some of us started asking our pendulums, “Am I feeling hungry at this moment?” Being an honest system, the pendulums circled a forceful ‘yes’! And in short order we found ourselves exercising our jaws with mouthfuls of scrumptious sandwiches, coleslaw, chickpea salad, watermelon, squares, etc. Thanks to Bette and Lelania we were again smitten by the power of now!

After an hour-long peaceful, relaxing lunchtime, we were well-prepared to withstand the unleashed, gut-wrenching and passionate onslaught of advice from the spiritual enigma we’ve come to know as La Poodella, the woman who runs with poodles! La Poodella (Rev. Jane Fleming) delights living in the present moment, taking full advantage of the ‘power of now’, as she pays no mind to traditional ideas nor to future concerns. Her timely crusade implores us to become like her, shamans in our own ‘rite’, adopting more modern ways of doing shamanic journeys with our indigenous guides. She exudes confidence that we too can create our new natural shamanic journey by following her wise counsel:

  • Choose your power animal, either real or stuffed.

  • Do a sun dance with Sunscreen—Block 15, and have compassion for Mother Earth.

  • Prepare for your shamanic journey with some unusual spirits,  the likes of scotch whiskey perhaps.

  • Create your own medicine wheel by making a circle of all your prescription drugs, wherein you can be your own shaman.

  • Go on a vision quest, such as a shopping spree.

  • Honour your ancestors’ heritage by sharing the fruits of your shopping quest.

Finally, La Poodella asked herself, “I wonder, how many of us have already become shamans in our own ‘rite’?” My guess is that most of us are already there!

Bidding farewell once again to La Poodella, we wished her all the best in her next shamanic journey, and welcomed back Louise, our pendulum guru, to continue working with an honest system that we could all trust! This session of pendulum work focused on influencing the future with our positive thoughts. We were asked to look for the circumstance that appeared to cause a problem we are facing. Using our pendulum in conjunction with our intuitiveness and our voices, we practiced in triads and dyads removing blockages and creating positive changes in our life. Problems in and around knee joints seemed to be quite common. Louise pointed out that our knees are our hardest working joints and behind our knee joint is the biggest ligament in the body, extending down to our feet. She mentioned that problems with hips often relate to family issues. Louise finished with the words of a true optimist: “We can change the karma in our lives.”  Regarding the karma we attract, Paramahansa Yogananda has issued a wise reminder:

Before you act, you have freedom, but after you act, the effect of that action will follow you whether you want it to or not. That is the law of karma. You are a free agent, but when you perform a certain act, you will reap the results of that act.

 Next arrived Trevor Uruski, another skillful guru working in the ‘power of now’, blowing with great expertise into his didgeridoos, non-stop for at least one hour, as he did for ASHA at last year’s retreat. Along with these huge wind instruments, Trevor was incredibly adept in adding in a variety of smaller percussion instruments, culminating in the  transmission of a great number of healing frequencies, a process he referred to as a ‘Soundscape’. Some of us sat in our chairs while others laid down on yoga mats. Trevor, on the other hand, walked around us all the time as he performed.

Trevor had great stage presence, explaining at the outset how playing didgeridoos had greatly aided his own healing, and then after his hour of music, demonstrating how he does circular breathing and finally answering many questions.

One participant asked if it’s very difficult blowing into a digeridoo. Trevor said he learned from his teacher, Gary Diggins, based in Ontario, who is a professional horn player, that it’s easier blowing into a digeridoo than into a horn.  Trevor, who also teaches playing the digeridoo, was able to recommend a couple of digeridoos for beginners to start with. I asked Trevor what he thought the causative factor in this music might have been with respect to his own healing from an addiction. He said that he had to do the spiritual work first, to realize that he wasn’t just a ‘stupid piece of crap’ (his words), and that he had a purpose in life after all. Just at this time he ended up in Diggin’s digeridoo class and realized he could play the instrument well and that’s how he could share himself with others. His passion now is to share his joy in teaching the digeridoo to his students. Trevor put the WOW! in the POWER of NOW!


On the heels of Trevor’s Soundscape, came Pepita Gicuhi’s Quietscape, a concluding prayer of immense gratitude to the Great Spirit. What else could we say but a sincere thank you for the empowering and healing light that shines forever in us and in all creation? Thank you, Pepita, for voicing your heartfelt prayer of gratitude on behalf of all of us.


There is a light this world cannot give. Yet you can give it, as it was given you…. Light is unlimited, and spreads across this world in quiet joy.

                                                                    (A Course in Miracles)

Image by Martin de Arriba

Inspiration from our President, Doug McMurray

Image by Martin de Arriba

Hello Everyone!


So here we are. Already heading towards the holiday season. I trust that each of you had time to experience a great summer and create lasting memories.


We certainly were able to do just that with our potluck BBQ in late August hosted by Barb Wright at her home, (“Almost a Ranch”), near Priddis. It was a perfect day to be outside and enjoy each other’s company without the illusions of time putting pressure on us. Many thanks to Barb, the many chefs and our head BBQ griller, Grant, for serving up great food! Nothing complements great fellowship like “breaking bread” together.


As you all know,  autumn is the time of the year when we hold our annual course open to those drawn to spiritual healing to take it a little further. Bette has shared her excitement with me about the individuals who are enrolled this year. While I have not yet had the opportunity to meet all of you, I am looking forward to doing so. As I write this, the course work is now just wrapping up and the hands-on training is about to begin so I’m sure we will meet soon!


I also want to recognize and congratulate our class of 22/23! At our graduation ceremonies November 13 it was my personal pleasure to shake each of your hands and recognize you as individuals.   I honour your commitment and accomplishment, not only on becoming a Certified ASHA Healer but your commitment to yourself. It is truly my  pleasure to have met each of you and get to know you better each week as you travelled your own personal journey to seek more and more knowledge. I am looking forward to our future adventures together!


I will wrap this up by sharing a moment I was graced with recently. While spending some quiet time communing in nature one evening last week, I was struck by the beauty of the trees in all their bareness. I am always in awe of this time of the year when the leaves have fallen but the snow has not yet arrived in full force. Looking at the bare branches framed against the overcast sky I had the realization for myself that I was witnessing a mirror of who I really am. Inside. From the roots unseen to the finest twig ends. And I was reminded to take some time to reflect (or identify) on those inner values I hold dear and live them to the best of my ability each day. To be my highest and best self each day as best I can. No matter what that looks like. Maybe going so far as to perhaps question and fine tune them or perhaps revise. Life is very busy for all of us and I hope that individually all of you have the opportunity to step back, if only for a moment, to enjoy some solitary reflective time in this between seasons time. And to recognize and appreciate that, despite some of the outward appearances of this world at times, it really is a great place to be. I can think of no place better to hang out. So look for the good stuff too... and enjoy!


My best to all of you as you celebrate the season ahead!  See you down the road.

Image by Marissa Rodriguez
Image by Marissa Rodriguez
Image by Marissa Rodriguez

Update from our
Director of Education
Bette Wood

I hope this newsletter finds you well and filled with the energies of change and renewal.  As a community we continue to embrace warmth and support, fostering an environment that allows each member to grow on their spiritual journey.


As autumn leaves have descended, and the first snowfall has already arrived, we find ourselves immersed in the transformative energies of fall, symbolizing change and renewal.  In our healing journey, this season brings a beautiful opportunity to reflect on our progress and embrace the warmth of support within our community.


Our newly certified healers as of November 2023 are as follows:  Alistair Johnston, April Jones, Anika MacLachlan, Maggie Stormcrow, Maria Bianco, Pepita Gicuhi, Serena Tracy, Sylvie Royer, Rowen Waters, and soon to come Priti Obrah-Martin.


There were also two graduates from Eternity Connection's Online healing group. 

They are Anastasia Axente and Ben Wahl.


We welcome both groups to our ASHA family and congratulate them on their dedication and commitment to becoming an ASHA Healer.  Your presence enriches our community, and we're excited to walk this healing path together.  Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences – we're here to listen and support.  Share poems, artwork, or any form of expression that speaks to your healing journey.  Your creations inspire us all.


Our graduates from 2022 were a small group;  Maheswari Vedhachalam, Lisa Blaney, Paula Stanko, and Helder Futre.


Eternity Connection 2022:  Liz Smith, Tiffany Smith, Melba Stetz, Jeannie Lundgard, Joyce McKay


During our  2022-2023 season we introduced our Chairperson Mentoring Program.

Many thanks to our Past President Jane Fleming for her exceptional skills in facilitating this highly successful program.  Jane's dedication and expertise have greatly contributed to the growth and development of our community.  We are truly grateful for her commitment.


With the winter season approaching, we wanted to give you a glimpse of what lies ahead. 
Winter offers a unique opportunity for introspection, self-reflection, and deep healing.  We have planned a series of workshops for our Interns, however all ASHA Members are welcome to attend.

There will be a special event coming up as well.  Stay tuned for more information.


As always we value your feedback with ideas that inspire us and help us shape our programs and events to better meet the needs of our members.  Feel free to reach out to us in person on a Monday evening or  to our board members directly by email.  If you are interested in joining a commitee please contact Lelania or Loraleigh.


Benjamin Franklin once said “tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”


Lastly I would like to remind you that our Monday sessions continue to offer meditation and healing services.  Your continued participation in these events makes a difference in the lives of our community members.  I invite you to keep coming and making a positive impact.


Thank you for being a part of ASHA.  Together we can create a space of healing, growth, and support.

by Marlene Harris

My first thought about today is one of gratitude, as it brings to mind the beginning of Karen Drucker’s upbeat thank you song, which I sing daily to, and on behalf of, my dog!

“Thank you for this day, Spirit, thank you for this day; thank you for this day, Spirit, thank you for this day, this healing, this healing, this healing day.”

Each activity we engaged in today at the Priddis Community Hall approached healing in its own unique & effective fashion. A big thank you goes to the team of very helpful ASHA healers that made this event possible for 12 participants: Rev. Bette Wood, Rev. Jane Fleming, Loraleigh Peterson, Lelania Diniakos, & Doug McMurray.

Taking the floor until lunch time was Rev. Bette Wood with her two insightful presentations: “The Stories We Tell” & “Soulful Prayer”. Bette reminded us that our stories (i.e. our thoughts) create our life, appear to create our reality and can sometimes be very limiting, preventing us from making helpful changes. She emphasized that it’s never too late to re-invent ourselves by creating new stories. (Of course La Poodella took this advice to heart!) Bette then posed the following question for our reflection: “Do I value relationships and interactions with others or do I just want to be right? Can I verify the truth of someone’s story? And when I can’t, can I give them the benefit of the doubt? (George Carlin, the comedian, had his own polite way for always trying to be right; he would say, “Well, I could always agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong!”) A Course in Miracles says you can either be right or happy, but you can’t be both. In finishing up this session, Bette paired us up and each person shared a 2 story with their partner and we discussed if we had found ourselves relating in harmony or opposition to others in our respective stories.

Bette next broached the subject of ‘Soulful Prayer’, using an acronym for ‘pray’:

P— Power, to which we can attune, is our light that comes from within.

R—Reconnection to the power from the Source.

A—Amplification to change our mental state & outer form.

Y—Your Prayer: Is your prayer aware of and aligned with the God presence within? If not, you might be thankful for such prayers not being answered!

In praying, affirm (recognize) who you are, i.e. a light body, at one with God and with all creation. Realize that your ‘word is your wand’. It is all knowing, all powerful and ever present. Visualize what you want in a very clear and detailed manner. Then imagine the joy of having it, and how grateful you feel. Oprah Winfrey has said that when you feel gratitude for something, you attract more of it. Claudette Godin, one of our trance healing teachers, reminds us that the universe will grant us our most frequent thoughts. (So be mindful of always harboring positive thoughts.) Plant positive seeds in your mind and change your life.


On the heels of our relaxing lunch hour, in stormed the self-help fanatic, La Poodella (the woman who runs with poodles, alias Rev. Jane Fleming), to shake us out of our reverie by unleashing her angst over the constant in-fighting among all her inner selves. This production of “The Untaming of the Shrew” ended rather happily as La Poodella was able to release a lot of pent up emotion and finish with a smug grin, letting us know that she had once again become her own best friend!


Next arrived Trevor Uruski who was also very excellent at releasing a lot of wind, blowing with great expertise into his didgeridoos, non-stop for at least one hour. Along with these huge wind instruments, Trevor was incredibly skillful in adding in a variety of smaller percussion instruments, culminating in a transmission of a great number of healing frequencies, a process he referred to as a ‘Soundscape’. Trevor had great stage presence, explaining at the outset how playing didgeridoos had greatly aided his own healing, and then after his hour of music, demonstrating how he does circular breathing and finally answering many questions. Some of us sat in our chairs while others laid down on yoga mats. Trevor, on the other hand, walked around us all the time as he performed. I experienced a vast array of patterns and hues of indigo and purplish colors coming and going in my third eye. And there was a noticeable increase of vibration in the entire body. Overall it was a very enjoyable session, which surprised me because the sound was so powerful.


Now that we’d listened to Bette speaking her wisdom, La Poodella venting her angst and Trevor creating a soundscape, it was at last our turn to collectively express ourselves in a most ridiculous, albeit healing, way! The lively Alara Peyten facilitated a session of Laughter Yoga, adeptly presenting every scenario imaginable that could provoke laughter. (Thankfully my dog and cat were spared seeing their caregiver acting so out of character!) Rev. Margaret Eaton, the Scottish medium who shared her mediumship with us on numerous occasions, instructed us that “Those who laugh, last!” (This was Margaret’s version of the adage, ”Those who laugh last, laugh best.)


In closing, I’ll reflect on Bette’s words: “Spirit likes a light heart”, since all of the retreat activities were intended to lighten our hearts. There is a passage in A Course in Miracles Workbook that speaks to this attribute: (Note that ‘miracles’ in this context means ‘exchanges 4 of love among equals’, and the love (the miracle) you give out will always be returned to you in some fashion.)


“Miracles are seen in light, and light and strength are one. {To realize who you truly are, say the following affirmations}:


I am not weak, but strong.

I am not helpless but all powerful.

I am not limited, but unlimited.

I am not doubtful, but certain.

I am not an illusion, but a reality.

I am not in darkness, but in light.

I am the Light of the world; The Light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness.”

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