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"Your lecture really changed my life, because after hearing the story of your life-threatening car crash, and having you explain that 'most people call on God when their world is shaking, only to find out it is God that is doing the shaking,'I knew that my own struggles with illness were a wake-up call." -MT, Student, The Graduate Institute, Integrative Health Studies
"Your survival and subsequent calling have truly been miraculous and a blessing." -S.D., Westchester, NY
For me, my healing journey started in my twenties. I had my first brush with death with a scary bout of melanoma at age 21, which shocked me into the awareness of how fragile life is at a young age. Shortly after graduating from college, I started dealing with a dark-night of the soul with a torturous ten-year bout of OCD-like anxiety that never got diagnosed. Drugs and therapy did not work. So, rather than throw myself off a bridge or the nearest roof of Dunkin' Donuts, I started on the journey of spiritual and holistic healing. I discovered nutrition, chiropractic, yoga, herbal medicine, flower essence therapy and praying to Angels. I started to feel better. I had hope and faith that everything would eventually be OK and I got profound and amazing signs from the Universe that it would...this I believe, paved the way for my greatest test and prepared me for what I call my crash course in self-healing...a near-fatal car accident in 1997.
That accident would have brought me to my knees if the dashboard of my car hadn't smashed both of my femurs. In addition to my legs, I collapsed both lungs, lacerated my liver, broke my sternum and some ribs, and had some pretty serious bruises and tissue damage all over my body, including tearing most of the ligaments in my neck. Even as I type this, it blows me away. Did that really happen to me? I definitely have some interesting scars to prove it. However, it is now seventeen years later, and I don't have any significant pain (though weather changes challenge me a bit), no limp, no fear of driving. And I am stronger, happier, more fulfilled than I ever was before.
One of the major aspects of that accident that set the stage for a major Divine intervention, was the whole not-breathing thing. When you collapse both of your lungs, guess what? You can't breathe...so after trying to breathe and having no luck, I felt like I was given a chance to live or die. I decided I didn't want to go yet. I knew I hadn't helped enough people or done what I really came here to do. So I called on God to help me, and immediately felt this incredible energy come through the crown of my head and through my body. I started to breathe...truly a miracle. Now it was labored mind you, and I almost passed out about 300 times because of the pain and loss of blood. I have been told many times by various health care professionals that I should have died from all of the blood loss from all of those injuries.
However, once I started breathing again, I KNEW I was going to be OK. I knew that the journey to OK might be hard (huge understatement), but that I would somehow get there. I faced several hours of tests at the hospital, a full day of surgery putting me back together, and several days in ICU. My family was given the news that I might not make it, and that I had a 50/50 chance of survival. Of course, I knew I was going to be fine. Five days into my ICU stay, I pulled out all the tubes including the ventilator/breathing tube. I felt they were holding me back and it was time to move forward . I did, and got out of the hospital in less than three weeks. I stopped all pain medication 10 days after the accident, walked for the first time after six weeks, and was back to work in about three months.
The speed of my physical healing definitely blew away all the doctors and nurses who worked with me. SO, HOW DID I HEAL SO FAST FROM SUCH DEVESTATING INJURIES? This is part of what I share and teach. We do have tremendous impact on our own health and recovery. I did all this before starting my years of training to become a health care practitioner. There are tools that everyone can use. You just most likely won't learn most of them from your doctor or therapist, though now that is changing as our health care system begins to incorporate more mind/body/spirit healing modalities.
At the time, I knew our health care system, while amazing at putting people back together and dealing with major trauma, was not so informed about the whole integrative healing process. Good thing I already had a strong foundation in spiritual and holistic health. I put together my own healing and recovery plan. And it worked. Miraculously well.
Luckily, my job then as an art director/graphic designer paid well and I had great health insurance. Good to be grateful for what we have, as it helps the healing process. I sought out the best therapists and healers in many different fields and modalities. My holistic approach included nutrition, herbal medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, Alexander Technique, yoga, flower essences, art therapy, holistic psychotherapy to deal with the PTSD, visualization and imagery, positive affirmations and plenty of good ole prayer and talking to the Angels and helping Spirits. My own healing path eventually led to a deep immersion in energy medicine and shamanic healing. These modalities, ancient in origin, still provide deep and powerful healing at the root of our issues, on the spiritual level.
A year after the accident, I discovered energy medicine and Reiki. Reiki definitely rocked my world. I took a class without even knowing what it was. I had no clue, but the brochure said it would help with pain and stress relief and you could learn to do it on yourself. That was all I needed to hear.
I took the class, and five days later was doing a self-treatment, and BOOM. Some deep energy block inside my left hip burst (don't worry, this actually didn't hurt) and I got up off the couch, and my limp was gone. I thought HOLY CRAP, did that just happen??? I even ran up and down my stairs trying to make the limp come back because I couldn't believe it was gone. The change was so significant, that my co-workers and my chiropractor all noticed the difference the next day.
That event also changed the course of my life. I thought, EVERYONE needs to know about this. Why aren't they doing this in HOSPITALS??? HELLO. Remember, this was over 18 years ago and Reiki has now come out of the spiritual woo-woo closet and is IN hospitals, schools, spas, corporations, all over the place thanks to many dedicated and amazing practitioners all over the world.
Within two years, I trained to become a Reiki Master myself (the highest level of training in the Reiki world), and decided to go to school for massage therapy to learn more about the body and become professionally trained as a healer, because I knew I needed to help other people. Once that limp was cured, I knew I had to change the focus of my full time work. I loved being an artist (I still am BTW), but I felt in my soul, that I needed to help others and share what I had learned about healing. In 1999, I left the coporate world to work as a freelance graphic and web designer, and pursue my work as a healer and teacher. I received my license in 2002 from the CT Center for Massage Therapy. My dedication to learning and holistic and spiritual health also led me to study with The Graduate Institute, and receive my Master's Degree in Integrative Health and Healing in 2006.
Energy medicine has always been the foundation of my healing and teaching work. Many techniques can be taught that we can do on ourselves and for ourselves to further our healing process. In my own practice, I furthered my training and studies to become a Karuna Reiki® Master, and other courses in energy healing (see below for my credentials for the full list of courses) and a practitioner of core shamanism and contemporary shamanic healing. The study of healing is a life-long path. There is no way to become "certified" as a shaman. And most of us who provide contemporary shamanic healing work don't call ourselves "Shamans", out of respect for the ancient traditions. And that the title originates from a specific tribe, the Evenk people of Siberia. It is a term of honor bestowed by one's teachers, clients, colleagues and community.
Like many, as a child I spent hours and hours outdoors, felt and sensed the presence of "invisible friends," had a huge rock collection, and felt a sacred connection to animals. I was also very sensitive to the feelings of others, and the vibes in various places. So the animistic path, which is part of the foundations of what we call contemporary Shamanism, started for me in childhood. More recently, when I faced death after that head-on crash, I had that interaction with the Divine that saved my life, which was my first major spiritual healing initiation. Then healing myself after the accident, at miraculous levels and speed, to a point where I could move, walk, work and live my life without pain or any disability whatsoever seemed to be pushing me in the direction of the path of the wounded healer. Also, facing death through cancer in my twenties and working with natural and spiritual methods of healing to cure my anxiety disorder was also similar to traditional callings to the healing path, because of my strong engagement with the Divine and spirit world to facilitate the healing. These ways are traditionally how many shamans and medicine people the world over were initiated as healers or called to the path of the healer. Through their own horrifically difficult self-healing journeys.
Deana with Q'ero priests, Don Jose and Don Isidro, Sacred Valley, Peru
So it seems that the path called me. Through my study of holistic and spiritual healing methods, I discovered that much of what I was doing in my practice, and what I had been through on my personal healing journey was directly related to the animistic and mystical healing path. Once I realized that, indigenous healers started "showing up" almost in my backyard, so this was even more confirmation for me. For the last thirteen years, I have been very blessed to have amazing experiences and training with both local contemporary shamanic practitioners, and indigenous medicine people from North America, Equador, Peru, and Tibet. Over the years I have felt particularly called to the Andean and Q'ero mystical healing traditions because of their heart-centered and earth honoring practices, while continuing to incorporate and honor the core teachings of my Catholic upbringing.
Recently I have been investigating my ancestry on a deeper level as part of my own ongoing healing path and shamanic work. My ancestry is a combination of Italian, British, Irish, Balkan, Spanish, Mexican and Northern European. Investigations into my ancient ancestry have revealed bloodline connections to Mesopotamia, Russia, Northern Russia, Native North and South America, and Africa. Ancient lineages of shamans, mystics, spiritual healers and medicine people, come from all parts of the globe, so in fact, all of us have ancestors that incorporated earth honoring, animistic spiritual beliefs and practices that were entwined with the natural world. It is wonderful and empowering to connect with our recent and ancient ancestors as part of our own healing journeys and that these ways are not so foreign; they are in our DNA.
The client is the true healer. No one can heal another person. We all must take responsibility for our own healing. A true healer and spiritual teacher will empower his/her clients and students, not attempt to have "power over" them, or control them, but encourage them to embrace healing and teachings in their own way, and to find their own "medicine" or healing abilities and methods. We can work with others; however, they are in truth, facilitators of healing whether the modality is surgery, nutrition, energy healing or spiritual in nature.
The shamanic practitioner is accountable to him/herself, the community, and most importantly to Spirit. The shamanic healer is a servant of Spirit and it is a path of humility and integrity. The healing work and ceremonies I provide I have been given permission to offer. They are not appropriated from a tribe. In tribal cultures, medicine people in training would work with their mentors for many, many years. And in contemporary culture, think about how long doctors, nurses and therapists must go to school and train to do what they do. As holistic practitioners it makes sense that we also take our own professional training and education just as seriously, and continue ongoing study with effective and accomplished medicine people and shamanic teachers. Shamanic healing and training is a life-long path. One is never done learning. There are no certificates or diplomas to become a shaman.
No matter what our natural gifts, talents and life experience have given us in terms of healing or intuitive abilities, or what we learned from a wise relative in our backyard, as you can tell, I am a big believer in formal training for holistic health, energy healing and shamanic practices. I personally have had the great honor to have either worked with, sat with or trained with the following teachers in my healing and shamanic work: Gail Gorelick, Eileen O'Hare, James Riverstone, Charles Thermer, Alverto Taxo, Yachak elder of Equador, Don Jose and Don Esteban Tomayo of Equador; The Q'ero medicine people of Peru, including renowned elder Kuraq Akuyaq Don Umberto Soncco Quispe, Don Claudio, Don Jose, Don Mariano Quispe Flores, Don Francisco and Dona Juanita, Don Sebastian, and Don Martin of Cuzco, Peru, the twins Isabel and Yolinda of the Northern coast of Peru, healers of medicine traditions of the Amazon; Lewis Mehl Madrona, Painted Turtle of the Mohegan tribe, and Lama Lobsang Palden of Tibet. I have been blessed to have received multiple initations, rites and empowerments over the years from contemporary teachers and the Q'ero and Tibetan Lamas in their indigenous healing traditions.
We all have our "stuff," and I believe it is crucial for healers to keep ourselves in check, and have strong ethics and integrity so that we can strive to be that "hollow bone"so that the Divine may flow through us in a clear, compassionate way for the highest good of all. As part of our soul's journey, I believe in the idea that our soul chooses our parents, the time, place and location of our birth, our birth religion and learning experiences that will guide our evolution on this planet. For me, it has been empowering and crucial to focus on healing myself on all levels so that I can use my gifts to better serve others, including working on family relationships, ancestral patterns, honoring my Catholic heritage, my own traumas and wounds (of which we all have many :-/), and personal behaviors and beliefs that need transforming to support a whole and happy life. We are never "done," there are always more layers...And more layers...
A life-long CT resident, my own journey has lead me to live in the wooded hills of New Milford, CT, with two dogs, Patches and Charley, my loving partner, Keith Donlay, and my elderly parents (in their own apartment with a separate entrance, of course...).
I look forward to guiding you on your own self-healing journey. It is a powerful path of self-empowerement, and I am honored to share it with you.
Deana, with Peruvian Ayahuascero, Timatayo, at Moray in Peru
B.A., Fairfield University, 1989
Usui Reiki Master Certification 1998-1999
Karuna Reiki® Master Certification 2000
Licensed Massage Therapist (#002963) 2002
Integrated Energy Therapy® Master Instructor
Ongoing Shamanic training and healing work with contemporary and indigenous medicine people since 2003; including Peruvian, Equadorian, Q'ero, Hopi, Cherokee, Mohegan and Tibetan indigenous healing lineages.
Savior's Fire Energy Healing Master Practitioner 2004
Certified Medical Massage Therapist 2004
Reconnective Healing Level III Practitioner 2006
Healing with the Angels, Doreen Virtue, 2006
M.A. in Integrative Health/Experiential Health and Healing, The Graduate Institute, 2006
Elemental Mastery 3-year Contemporary Shamanic Training Program 2009
Ordained Minister in the Order of Melchizedek, Sanctuary of the Beloved, 2009
Mesayok Medicine Spiral Andean-Based Mystical and Core Shamanic Training Program 2013
Visiting Instructor in Integrative Health and Healing at The Graduate Institute
Member Advisory Board of the Institute for Holistic Health Studies, Westconn, Danbury CT
Member of Society for Shamanic Practitioners
Adjunct Professor, Health Promotion Dept., Westconn, Danbury CT 2014 to present
Deana and Keith