Julie Daley is a beloved coach, teacher, writer, healer and wise woman who writes about and works with the feminine principle. Julie has worked with grief in her life and others’, has taught classes to “9/11 widows” in their transitions after loss, writes about the earth and our connection to it as humans, as women, and she explores female existence and spirituality, unearthing sacred awareness with each article and blog post.
I wanted to ask Julie about her work with grief, specifically regarding her closeness to the healing process of the personal and collective tragedies of 9/11. And we did get to talk about that. But where our conversation turned surprised even me. Julie’s listening, and her answers to my exploration, made way for a big share from me, and made me understand the deeper reason for our call, indeed for my whole 31-day Memory to Light project:
To witness, to be witnessed. The sacred call of seeing and being seen.
What follows is the big share and the wisdom in its wake. This is one small part of our rich conversation. Stay tuned for more of our interview in future posts.
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Pema: In the last few days when I’ve been thinking about our upcoming conversation, it’s occurred to me to ask about phenomena. If you’ve listened to people talk about phenomena that they experienced, if you ever talked about letting themselves be guided by supernatural phenomena, mystical phenomena, these very images and elements we’ve been talking about. I’m going to put a period on that and stop asking you questions and tell you something, because it sounds like all of my questions are leading to this anyway.
I had a really wild awakening about four or five years after 9/11. I had moved back to California a year afterward. It took me a couple of years to realize I had PTSD, and that my life, much like many of my friends’ on that day, had taken a nose dive in certain areas. I left school because somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, I thought I was going to lose my mind, and I’d better be in a safe place when that happens. And so I went back to California. I still followed an opportunity to study, but I left school proper.
Then, it did. Everything began to unravel. It kept recessing and recessing, and so I went further back, to Santa Barbara, this place that is a womb and a healing place for me.
While I was there, and living in the good graces of my friends’ charity, and this community that I left a long time ago, I started looking for what would heal me. All over my skin, I had psoraisis that took over my body. I would go home at lunch time and put oil on my body [to relieve the pain] and I would lay in bed. And after lunch I’d go back to work. I’d do it again when I got back home. And I was looking for: “What is going to heal me?” Not only that, I was having panic attacks. Everything about myself that I had known was gone, or eclipsed.
And in my search for healing, I went to a massage therapist, a holistic massage therapist, and she said, “By the way, you should probably see if you have souls stuck in your field from that day.” And I’m like, “I have what in my what?” And she said, “You know, you were there in New York on that day, you might have souls stuck in your field.” I thought that she was a quack. But a few months later, I couldn’t forget about that.
So, I ended up talking to this psychic one time that I kind of ran into. I said, “Look, you might be a good person to ask this, because it keeps coming up. What do you know about, like, souls in your field or something?” And she immediately started channeling. She said, “You have 30 souls stuck in your field, from that day, and this is what they’re saying.”
I was, of course, floored. At the same time I felt this intense release in my body. For two days that followed, I felt this light coming through my head and out my feet. And I felt this clarity and this pure joy that I hadn’t ever known before. And I thought, “What do I do with that? What the hell was that?”
And so this journey that I started on August 11, has very much been about, “What do we do with grief? And why is it so hard to take on.” As I’ve taken these steps in these last days, I’ve realized, “We’re all on so many levels of experiencing our grief, who am I talking to? Who wants to hear this? Whose mind am I trying to change?”
You know, you just said, “I have clients who say, ‘I’m afraid to feel my body.’” One of the things that was channeled was this anger. [They said:] “Wake up. Wake UP. If only we had bodies to walk around on this earth and to hate our jobs and to make choices. If only we had our bodies. Wake UP.”
Stored in our hearts
I am compelled to tell you that because I’m asking you to share so much. And because we’re having these conversations about: How DO you know, how DOES your body know? How DO you feel?
And you know, I have talked about this experience, but I have talked about it in kind of guarded circles, because those are people who died. People in our nation’s consciousness, in their families’ consciousness. Real people who had real lives and real loved ones and here I am saying, “Well I had this experience, with these souls.”
I’m still working out what to do with that, but suffice to say I have been compelled enough by the messages to follow another journey. And I’m noticing that this exploration of grief I’m taking keeps leading to that, to what you just said, that this information is stored in our bodies and our hearts.
There is this whole question of waking up. I keep talking about waking up to grief enough to know that it will take you to the other side of yourself. It’ll take you on a transformative journey.
Julie: Yes AND. It will do those things, AND, it is NOT linear. You have no idea what else is going to come. Where it is going to come from.
That is important to pay attention to, because, as you were saying that, it was like something driving you–I don’t know if it’s you driving you, or something driving you–to do this. As you started to tell that story, your whole voice changed. There was a lot of energy there. A lot of power there, about that story.
When I shared what clients say, “I don’t know how to feel my body. My body feels like concrete.” This dissociation from the body, that’s the split between the sacred and the earth, the spirit and earth. And one of the things I know Llewellyn talks about and that I’ve experienced in my own vision is that women have something here to share. It has to be shared for us to move forward as a species to heal.
…It’s so important for spirituality to come down into, for us to bring our awakening and our awake-ness and our awareness down into the cells of our bodies, because life on earth is a sacred experience. It’s an amazing, beautiful experience and we’re walking around like lollipops trying to prove it all. It’s this glorious experience, which sometimes it’s not glorious in the way we think of glorious, but it’s all beautiful because we are feeling it.
When I try to tell people how beautiful it was when Gary died–I was awake finally. I mean, I felt in every cell of my body, even though it wasn’t what people would call a pleasant feeling. I was no longer sleep walking. I was feeling. And that in itself is I think a miracle, that we are even here feeling in these bodies. That we’re alive. It feels like there’s something in those messages that you got about that.
Pema: There is. I’ve been spending the last six or seven or eight years trying to understand…who I am in relation to those stories, or who I am to speak for these people? The minute I say that, I realize I’m not speaking for anyone, I’m just sharing the experience. I’m telling the story. And as I build my identity as a storyteller, as I discover how much I relate to story in the world, as I say this right now, I think, “Oh, well look at that, that’s a safe place to be.” If I am a witness then I can just tell the story as a witness rather than claiming this really far afield experience…
Julie: Yeah, and it’s interesting when you asked me how I worked with [the “9/11 widows.”] …It feels sort of parallel to what you’re saying about these souls, because…the healing and all the stuff that happened is sacred. I can talk about MY experience of being in the room, but I can’t share what–I have to notice the line where I would be disrespecting that sacredness. That’s what I notice, I think, that you are articulating around these souls.
Pema: Right! Right. They are not mine to claim.
Pema: They are not a soapbox to stand on.
Julie: They’re not.
Pema: And at the same time, there are these messages that are coming through.
I had to go on this journey of understanding, of gathering up myself…wiping off all of the stuff that’s not mine that I’ve collected over the years, and then pulling back up…what is mine? What do I want to do? What feels sound to me? And then in understanding who I am, is there a way for me to be a voice or a channel for that which has come to me, that is not mine as a claim, but is an experience, a life experience to relate that is universal?
Julie: Well yes. Yeah, absolutely because it’s coming through you. That’s what’s happening. And trusting that if it’s coming through you, it’s all going to be revealed.
…It’s like trusting yourself, trusting your heart, trusting your body, trusting that you can move through it, trusting in the sacred and the greater, whatever you want to call it. That it is holding you. When I was in Hawaii, I kept hearing these words: “So much is given. You are so loved. So much is given. You are so loved.”
When you really get that, we are so held.
Pema: And when we’re held that’s when we heal.
Julie: Absolutely, whether we’re held by a human being in somebody’s arms, by a community, by ourselves, we can do the healing work, absolutely. That’s beautiful.
(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)
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Thanks for reading Day 24 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.
Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.
Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.