"It's a myth to believe that only specially gifted people can communicate with deceased loved ones. You, like everyone else, have this ability right now."
--From Divine Guidance, by Doreen Virtues
A lazy snow fell on the aspens outside while a group of expectant faces gathered in the cozy living room of a log cabin last week to request assistance from beyond. But not all were believers -- at least not yet.
According to the class presenters, everyone is psychic and has the power to access messages from the Angelic realm, if one is open to them.
"The signs are all around us," said literature from a Windancer Presentations program that lured more than 20 participants, who eagerly sat in a circle in the room waiting for instruction. "Do you see them? Do you honor them? Isn't it time you start? Imagine... a world without secrets."
The knowledge that spirits and guides send people includes intuitive feelings such as, "don't go down that alley" or "stay away from that person," explained program leaders.
The power to be psychic is no more than tuning in and trusting that personal coincidences, instincts and impressions happen for a reason. Psychic muscles, like biceps, said leaders, need training before they can become stronger and more open to messages to the spirit world.
"As children if we see or hear things we can't explain we're told we have a good imagination but nobody believes us. So we close those psychic muscles down," said Michelle Cloer, a psychic medium and certified hypnotherapist co-leading the activities.
"But those psychic abilities are a gift from God," she continued. "As women we learn, 'don't be rude, be nice to that guy,' even when our instincts tell us differently. Then later he rapes us or he beats the crap out of us after we marry him."
Stereotypes, a history of repression and a dogma surrounding the practice of communicating with the spirit world makes many people prickle, acknowledged Cloer.
It's those kinds of negative, insecure thoughts that should be banished, she said.
"A lot of us have been burned at the stake for knowing things we shouldn't have known," said JoAnn Miller, another psychic medium leading participants through the exercises.
"Now we need validation that those things we know are real. We're going to open that psychic door again."
Angels Among Us
An immediate hush filled the room as Michelle Cloer's daughter, 15-year-old Megan Cloer, took a seat in the center of the room. To only the sound of a pointer scratching on a well-worn angel board, the teenager began to take questions.
"What's your name?" Megan asked into the air.
"She said, 'I'm Lilly and I'm standing right behind you in a blue dress,'" Megan translated.
For some time, participants asked questions through Megan, many requesting and receiving information from a deceased loved one or spirit guide.
According to Doreen Virtues, a psychic and prolific author on the subject, everyone is born with at least one spirit guide who is present from birth to death. Sometimes this guardian angel figure is a loved one who died before a person was born. Other times the bond is created from a relationship in a previous life.
"Spirit guides know how to help you without interfering with your free will or growth lessons," she said. "Therefore, a spirit guide will never make a decision for you. They will instead help you to see your different options then urge you to make decisions based in love and kindness."
After a particular reading at the conference, one participant, who chose to remain anonymous, was intrigued by information he'd garnered in a similar gathering and was eager to learn more.
Through Megan he questioned his guide about the bad vibes he received from his daughter's boyfriend.
The reply: She is in serious trouble, but she isn't ready yet to ask for help.
"I've been suspicious about (that relationship)," he said. "Maybe I wasn't getting what my guides had to tell me at first but that reading was right on."
Raised Catholic, the man had difficulty at first with what he was experiencing.
"Sometimes I think we're too thick to get the message or we don't get it until we're too exhausted to realize it," he added. "I'd like to get to the point where I can hear the messages before I'm too burned out."
Listening to the Voices
Megan Cloer can see and hear spirits if she wants to.
Her gift of seeing came almost naturally after a few days of specialized training and she began hearing messages only months later.
The practice has become so ingrained for the teen she has a hard time understanding the skeptic's point of view.
"It's hard to believe that people don't believe," she said frankly. "At first I didn't know how much it meant to people to hear their readings. I think it's enjoyable to do it for other people."
Megan's close friend, 14-year-old Sierra Myers, who also attended the conference, is well on her way toward hearing spirit voices. She began seeing spirits off and on since getting into the practice about a year ago. The two play together on the angel board, which they describe as "just like an Ouija board, but the angel drawings make it easier for people to accept."
Though they take the practice seriously, their questions to the angel board sometimes range from affections from boys to guidance on future plans.
Most rewarding, Myers said, is the contact that has helped her to realize her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.
"This shows you how to dream big and not let anybody get in your path," she said. "Especially when you hear you can, you know you can big time. I have this feeling that I will make it."
For Megan, the experience is similarly gratifying.
"I feel much more in control of my life and much happier," she said. "I know now that I can manifest what I want and what I don't want."
Flushing out Misconceptions
There are four ways to communicate with angelic realm, according to the program's teachings. The four "claires" include, claircognizance (knowing), clairvoyance (seeing), clairaudience (hearing), and clairsentience (feeling). Usually a person has a greater affinity toward one of the "claires" but the workshop was designed to help people open their awareness to all of them.
Through the course of the day, participants completed exercises in visualization, meditation, hypnotherapy and testing out personal psychic abilities.
Before partaking in any of the activities, verbal requests were made to attract "only the highest of the high" spirits, a common practice to keep the correspondence sacred, leaders said.
While making contact is an exhilarating experience for some, disbelief and distrust have the potential to cause harm, leaders said.
As a rule, younger people are generally more in tune with the spirit realm, they said.
That may be why Josue Maldonado, who worked the angel board with Megan, is catching on at 14 years old.
Yet at first, the idea wasn't popular with his parents.
"Basically they're blind to it," he said. "They think it's like devil worshipping but it doesn't bring any harm to you."
When Maldonado encounters a mischievous spirit he said talking in a serious voice and telling it to go away does the trick. Or sometimes users will call on an archangel for assistance.
The teens sometimes encounter opposition, but it usually isn't from friends their own age.
"My friend had a hard time believing until (the angel board) started saying a lot of things about her that are true," Megan said. "Most of my skeptic friends believe it now."
Cloer encouraged people to think of it as the spirits being "bored" and wanting to help people out even if that's with simple tasks.
"You can't interfere, all you have to do is ask," she said. "Angels want you to be peaceful and they'll do their best to help you get there even if that means helping you find a parking space. If you're in a hurry and you can't find a place to park then you're not peaceful."