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Book Review by Heidi Skarie, Dream Yourself Awake by Darlene Montgomery September 22, 2016

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41danpw89l-_sx298_bo1204203200_Dream Yourself Awake One Woman’s Journey to Uncover Her Divine Purpose through Dreams

Years ago Montgomery realized her dreams were relating to her waking life.  She found they revealed recurring themes and lessons. The images and feelings she began to see formed a map that led to her purpose as Soul. Montgomery states, “Dreams tell a story about Soul’s everlasting wish to journey back home to God.” (p. 18)

The basic premise of the book is that if you have a yearning to know your purpose in life, Spirit will let Soul see its greater destiny and clear away illusions. The law of growth drives Soul on.

Each chapter begins with an insightful quote. Then Montgomery shares a dream, waking dream or inner experience and gives her interpretation of it as she sheds light on the spiritual side of what she’s experiencing.

In the sixth chapter, The Messengers of Life, she quotes from Marianne Williamson: “Ultimately, it is not our credentials but our commitment to a higher purpose that creates our effectiveness in the world.” (p. 28)

In this chapter Montgomery explains that Divine Spirit guides us to experiences that remind us of agreements we made before we were born into this life. Messengers in life may come to us as teachers, friends, movies and books. The people around us show us qualities inside ourselves and help us figure out our life’s mission.

Montgomery also shares what she learned about her career as a writer. In one dream, Montgomery meets Oprah Winfrey. She realized Oprah’s dream appearance intended to awaken her “to my own potential as a voice of change in the world” (p. 11) In the same chapter she says, “To write a book is to open a door literally into another world. Every work of art leaves an impression, which shapes the thoughts of others and more importantly their dreams.” (p. 13)

In Dream Yourself Awake, Montgomery takes the reader on an intimate journey. Through Montgomery’s experience, we see our own fears, failings and limiting ideas. We also see our ability to grow, learn, overcome these limitations and move into a place of love, abundance and gratitude. We see how we are divine sparks of God and how our dreams are here to teach us, give us truth and help us deal with challenges. When we pay attention, dreams will tell us about our higher goals and we can wake up, as Montgomery did. We can become strong spiritual beings, aware that we are children of God, knowing we are powerful, loving beings.

While writing this blog post, I had a waking dream experience at the end of my yoga class. The instructor said she had a quote to share and I knew it was related to this post. The quote is from the inspiring author, Marianne Williamson:

“Relationships are our primary teacher. They are the context in which we either grow into God consciousness, or deny ourselves and others the opportunity to do so.”

Have you had dreams, waking dreams or inner experience that helped you wake up to a higher truth about yourself on your journey home to God? I’d love to hear about your experiences!



Interview with Iva Kenaz, author of The Witch Within January 30, 2015

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I just finished reading The Witch Within and greatly enjoyed the main character’s journey both physically and spiritually.  The following is an interview with the author.

Iva Kenaz

Iva Kenaz author.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve been fascinated with storytelling since childhood. I wrote many simple hand-written books and in my teenage years I wrote a three-part novel about past lives. I often had repetitive dreams and visions in which I experienced stories from another person’s point of view and felt compelled to note them down. I keep returning to these dreams for inspiration. Writing is something very magical and sacred to me. I believe that it’s a divine communication between the author and the worlds beyond.

 What is The Witch Within about and what is the major theme?

The Witch Within is set in 16th century Bohemia and is about a sixteen-year-old gifted healer, Talitha who has been charged with witchcraft.

Talitha escapes to the abandoned Cursed Lands and seeks the ancient cave of her ancestors where her grandmother lived. In the mystical woods, she starts to remember her ancestral lore of healing and magical symbolism and receives guidance on how to survive from the local spirits. But then she is captured by two men who were sent to bring her back to the local justice. One is a brute, but the other one is fatally attracted to her.

After Talitha manages to escape them, she finds her ancestral cave, but also another one at the highest peak of the forest where a group of refugee women have established a camp. By facing both the dark and bright side of her kin, Talitha learns that what she thought was her curse, may yet become her gift.

The major theme is survival, both in physical, emotional and spiritual sense. It’s about overcoming one’s fears and limitations and becoming empowered using primordial inner wisdom.


The Witch Within

The Witch Within

What kind of research did you do for the book?  What made you pick the 16th century in South Bohemia?

The story is inspired by repetitive dreams and visions I used to have and partly by a book called The Secret History of Czech Lands (by A.Cesal,O.Dvorak and V.Matl) that focuses on the long-gone mysteries of my home country.

During the 16th century the witch-hunts became more serious all over Europe but I decided on that period mainly symbolically, as the story is made up and thus remains a fantasy.

I was also inspired by the beautiful magnetic countryside of South Bohemia, particularly mountain Kleť, which could translate to Cursed or Mountain of Curses. In the middle ages many landscapes of South Bohemia were feared and some of them even drowned under lakes and ponds. People considered them cursed and haunted, however, those places had rich pagan history and concealed the wisdom of Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes.

 How does Talitha, the main character, grow and change in your book from her experiences?

Talitha starts off as a gifted healer but she has a very low-self esteem and feels guilty about the death of her brother. She believes that her choice of herbs caused his death. It’s only once she manages to heal one of her captors that she realizes she is truly able to save lives.

Eventually, she also becomes initiated in the magical and healing power of runes and a part of her soul that used to be conscious of such ancestral mysteries begins to re-unite with her present self.

Her spirit is also greatly tested by the shadow side of magic but in the end Talitha learns to understand that the witch within her might not be a curse but an actual virtue.

 What writing project are you working on now?

I’ve been working on a stand-alone sequel to The Witch Within that focuses on Talitha’s granddaughter, Berkana, and delves deeper into the mysteries of the natural spirit, runes and sacred geometry.

Iva Kenaz’s Bio.

I’m an indie author and a devoted student and practitioner of Sacred Geometry, Astrology, Tarot, Runes and Channeling. My novels are mainly visionary/metaphysical and are greatly influenced by spirituality, symbolism and philosophy.
In June 2014 I published my first novel The Witch Within and later that year also a personal confession titled My Melancholic Diary. I studied screenwriting at a film university in Prague, FAMU and MA Creative Writing at London South Bank University. Currently, I’ve been working on a stand-alone sequel to The Witch Within as well as doing a research for my non-fiction book about archetypes in storytelling.

Here is Iva Kenzaz’s website.


Writing Red Willow’s Quest led to an unexpected revelation January 22, 2015

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A1uYOglfMKL._SL1500_-188x300Every novel has a story behind it—a reason the author felt drawn to write it.  When I started writing Red Willow’s Quest I decided to write a fantasy story of a young woman who was on a spiritual quest.  I began writing the story as fantasy because it was close to the genre I’d written my other novels in.  However, after writing several chapters, I realized I was writing about a culture that was much like the Plains Indians.  I debated starting over and writing the book as a Native American story.  While I was pondering this, I was sent a manuscript.  As soon as I started reading it, it seemed as if the universe was speaking to me, for the story was about a woman who remembered her past life as a Native American woman.  I wondered if the story I was writing was based on my own past life as a Plains Indian.

I had to take my daughter to her flute lesson so I put aside the manuscript and went outside.  There I found a hawk feather in the yard.  It was standing up and in perfect condition.  On each of the next two days I found another hawk feather in the yard.  For me finding three hawk feathers was a significant spiritual sign that I should start over and write the story of my own past life as a Native American maiden.


Later, I heard a talk by a spiritual leader who said that to some Native Americans the cry of a hawk meant clear spiritual vision and flying above the mundane world.  This was further confirmation that I was on the right track.

Once I’d made the decision to write about my own past life, memories of that life started coming through especially as I began doing research on the Plains Indians.  It was as if the reading I was doing opened the door to this past life.  My memories revealed much about that life, but I didn’t know the time period or place where that life took place, nor did I know what tribe I’d been part of.

I knew that the story took place in the mountains, so I started out by figuring out what mountains range I lived in.  Through my readings and looking at photographs, I soon realized that I had lived in the Rocky Mountains.  I had always felt a deep affinity and love for the Rockies that I now realized came from that life.  As a child my family had made many trips Glacier National Park where we had gone camping and hiking.  Later as a young adult I went backpacking in the Rockies. On these trips I always had the feeling of being home.

Draft of map for Red Willow's Quest

Draft of map for Red Willow’s Quest

My research also revealed that I was a Shoshoni Indian. Their culture, clothing and food matched what I remembered from that life.  One book I read about them was entitled The Shoshonis, Sentinels of the Rockies because of where some of the tribes lived.

The time period where that life took place turned out to be fairly easy to establish because in the story Red Willow and her companion go to a fort on the mouth of the Big Horn River.  Research revealed that in 1807 John Colter and Manuel Lisa built a trading post called Fort Raymond in that location. The fort was only in existence for one year.  John Colter was one of the men who was a part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase.  He built the fort after the expedition was completed.

More pieces of the puzzle of that lifetime fell into place as I continued my research, such as figuring out which people attacked Red Willow’s village.  When I traveled out west, I also found out that a name I thought I’d made up for a tribe was the real name.  I’ll talk about these discoveries in the next post.

Here is a review of the book from Amazon posted on Jan. 21,2015

I could not put this book down. The action, suspense and awesome detail of life as a native American of that time period totally absorbed me. From the first page I was enthralled. Red Willow’s courage (as a 16 year old!) to hold to her visions and implement her dreams despite enormous resistance and danger gave me an entirely new insight into the depth of commitment that is possible in this physical life. It’s a story about living truly on the edge and being faithful in every respect to one’s principles and spiritual mission as revealed through visions and the counseling of one’s spiritual guides.

I can say that Ms Skarie’s story deeply inspired me. There was no room for compromise nor weakness, nor even for what might appear to be pragmatic. Always there was the decision made to follow the star of spiritual vision and the goal of accomplishing one’s mission in life. No quarter was given to personal attachment or ease. That kind of vision clarity is so rare. It was a delight to see it so clearly illustrated in this novel.

It would seem to me that this story would be recommended reading for any young person seeking to discover her/his own spiritual purpose in life or to build confidence and courage in living through the challenges of the modern world. Finding one’s core and staying true to it despite all objections of family and tradition is a worthy goal for anyone serious about their life’s purpose.

As I became increasingly captivated by the spiritual strength of the main character, Red Willow, I found myself identifying with her and literally absorbing her strength and centeredness. Something in me shifted to a greater acceptance of and commitment to my own mission. My guess is that if you read this book with a desire to know yourself better and be true to your own visions you will come away a changed person.

If you’re interested in buying the book click here to get a link to Amazon.

Mellen-Thomas Benedict’s NDE September 28, 2012

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I was talking to my friend Doug about Anita Moorjani’s near death experience, which I wrote about in a recent blog. Anita had cancer and went into a coma.  While she was in the coma, she had an amazing NDE.  She returned from her experience in the inner realms cured of cancer.

Doug replied that years ago he’d heard about another man, Mellen-Thomas Benedict who also had cancer and a NDE. Like Anita he came back cured of cancer.

Doug emailed me a link to the story about Benedict.


Mellen’s story is also featured in Deepak Chopra’s book Life After Death.

“Mellen is an encyclopedia of the afterlife.” Quote by Deepak Chopra.

Doug said that Mellen wrote wonderful poetry.  He emailed me a link to that as well.


Mellen’s story is as amazing as Anita’s.  Anita felt her cancer was caused by her fear. Mellen, who had a NDE in 1982, said that, “I had been an information freak in the 1970’s, and I had become increasingly despondent over the nuclear crisis, the ecology crisis, and so forth. So, since I did not have a spiritual basis, I began to believe that nature had made a mistake, and that we were probably a cancerous organism on the planet. I saw no way that we could get out from all the problems we had created for ourselves and the planet. I perceived all humans as cancer, and that is what I got. That is what killed me. Be careful what your world view is. It can feed back on you, especially if it is a negative world view. I had a seriously negative one. That is what led me into my death. I tried all sorts of alternative healing methods, but nothing helped.”

Mellen came to see that, “At any level, high or low, in whatever shape you are in, you are the most beautiful creation, you are.

“I was astonished to find that there was no evil in any soul.

“I said, ‘How can this be?’

“The answer was that no soul was inherently evil. The terrible things that happened to people might make them do evil things, but their souls were not evil. What all people seek, what sustains them, is love, the light told me. What distorts people is a lack of love.”

Both quotes are taken from the above-mentioned story.

It’s fascinating to ponder why we get sick and if indeed some illnesses are caused by our thoughts and emotions.  If we can figure out what created our illness, then we might have some insight how to heal from our illness.

I also find it interesting to read about the experiences people have in the inner realms.  People who have died and come back all share that there is life after death.  Knowing that we are Soul and immortal can take the fear out of dying and ease our suffering when a loved one dies.

Do you think we can create disease with our thoughts, emotions, and attitudes?

The Millionaire’s Secret Life, Lesson in Wisdom and Wealth by Mark Fisher: Book Review August 20, 2012

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Very few books come along that are as inspiriting as THE MILLIONAIRE’S SECRET LIFE by Mark Fisher told in the form of a parable loaded with spiritual principles such as the law of abundance, gratitude, love, detachment, karma, and reincarnation.


The story is about a writer named John who worked in an advertising company and wanted to write a screenplay: “he’d felt a terrible sense of foreboding, that if he waited too long it would be too late.  He’d lose the power to dream.” p. 15.  John had a dream of himself as a magnificent blue jay—his favorite bird as a child—with its wings amputated.”  P. 20.  He realized that the bird represented himself so he decided to go to his uncle for advice and to ask for a loan to start his own advertising agency.  His uncle referred him to an old eccentric millionaire who is really a master full of wisdom of not only how to succeed materially but how to grow as a spiritual being.


John asked the millionaire to help him make a fortune and the millionaire replied, “But tell me, how is it you haven’t already made your fortune?” p. 26-27.    He was basically asking John if there was something blocking him from being successful and fulfilling his dreams.  He pointed out that the real problem is fear. John didn’t have enough confidence in himself.


The millionaire told John the story of a lion that was raised by goats.  The goat-raised lion saw a wild lion and was afraid of it, not knowing his own true nature.  The old man said, “get rid of the goat so that the lion inside of you can awaken,” p. 77.


The millionaire gave John money to start his own company.  When John went to leave for home the man touched his forehead between the eyes and said, “Discover who you really are Truth will set you free.” P. 30l.  John used the spiritual principles the man taught him and tried to make a new life.


Over time he went through a series of experiences where thing went badly.  At one point he was about to lose everything, including the woman he loved.  The millionaire told him that “all sufferings are. . . sent to us out of mercy to help us evolve and find our true selves, find the real force with us, which ordinary happiness prevents us from seeing, because it lulls us to sleep – or rather, allows us to remain asleep…” p. 236-237.


John came to realize that his suffering had opened his heart and given birth to his talent.  In the remainder of the story reveals whether he is able to use what he learned to create a good life.


The book is an inspiration for anyone with a goal or dream. It encourages us to become the lion, recognize our true self and create the life we want.


Have you found that suffering has helped you to evolve? I welcome your stories and comments.

THE CAMINO A JOURNEY OF THE SPIRIT by Shirley MacLaine July 30, 2012

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For my birthday one of my sister’s sent me the book THE CAMINO. She thought I’d enjoy it as I am close in age to MacLaine when she took the Camino journey and my sister knew I was interested in spiritual topics.

Years ago I had read and enjoyed MacLaine’s OUT ON A LIMB and so I was interested to see what this adventure was about.  MacLaine has been courageous and instrumental in getting spiritual ideas into the world. She’s appeared in movies and on TV sharing her experiences with out-of-body travel, her past lives, and ideas on extraterrestrial beings.  THE CAMINO also explores these ideas and her own spiritual journey.

The Santiago de Compostela Camino is a famous pilgrimage across northern Spain that has been taken by all kinds of people for thousands of years. The path lies directly under the Milky Way and  reflects the energy of the stars above.  MacLaine received two unsigned letters at two different times while in Brazil imploring her to do the Camino if she was serious about her esoteric writings.  MacLaine asked her friend Anna Strong, a spiritual leader and counselor, if this was a journey she should make.  Strong encouraged her to make the pilgrimage, which consisted of walking alone nearly 500 miles, carrying a seven-pound pack and sleeping most night in shelters.

Before starting the journey, MacLaine visited her friend Kathleen Tynan in London who was dying of cancer.  MacLaine had a soul connection with this special friend and kept in touch with Tynan on her journey, sharing what she’d learned.  MacLaine was sad her friend was dying, but also believed only the physical body dies.  We start a new life in another world.

The story that follows was an intimate account of MacLaine’s pilgrimage.  She  met her friend Ann Strong in Spain.  Strong started MacLaine on the pilgrimage by walking with her for a few days, then she was on her own.  MacLaine took a tape recorder with her and recorded her thoughts and experiences as she went.  Early on in her journey she dreamed about a past life as a gypsy during a lifetime when she lived along the Camino.  Over the following days she learned more of this life during inner visits from a man named John the Scot. He told her that she was a gypsy during the time of Charlemagne. He was married and she was one of his mistresses.

As MacLaine walked along she had hours to contemplate the meaning of life.  She was raised Christian, but came to believe that she was fundamentally  soul choosing to have a physical experience.  She felt that many of our problems come from a disassociation with our soul.  (p. 101-102)

MacLaine also shared her ideas on the law of cause and effect and John the Scot visited her inwardly to talk to her about the law of karma.

In the last third of the book John the Scot taught MacLaine about the Lemurian and Atlantean civilizations. MacLaine remembered a past life during the end of Lemuria.  While I believe these civilizations existed, I found this part of the book pretty far out there and yet I was interested to read about her remembrances.  I was also impressed with her honesty to share her experiences.  No one can prove or disprove someone else’s realizations and inner reality.

If you’re looking for a good book to read about a personal quest for spiritual understanding, I recommend this one.  Maybe you’ll even be inspired to go on the Camino and trek across northern Spain.

Have you gone on a spiritual quest?  Maybe an inner journey or an outer one. I’d love to hear about it, if you’d like to share it on this blog.  Life is a gift and an rich, amazing adenture.