An appreciation of Barbara Ann Brennan


I have been fortunate to have both studied and worked professionally with the late Barbara Brennan, alongside many other hundreds of students who joined her healing school in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. She was one of four energy healing teachers who have provided a framework for my life time study of energy work, the others being Dr TK Shih (Qi Gong Therapy), Rev Rosalyn L. Bruyere (healer, ritual elder, and medium), and Stylianos Atteshlis (Christian mystic and healer). This post is about my personal appreciation of the fifteen years I spent studying with – and working professionally for – Barbara Brennan.

I first met Barbara Brennan in the summer of 1988, the year Bantam Books had purchased the rights to her self published teaching manual, “Hands of Light”. It was the height of the New Age boom, where many people were rediscovering the ancient wisdom traditions and interest in energy healing was on the rise, often as a supportive protocol for allopathic medicine.. 

The energy healing work I was already exploring at that time was based on Qi Gong practices, an extension of Chinese Medicine, in combination with the shamanic and psycho-spiritual medium work of Rev Rosalyn L. Bruyere, the premier energy healer in the US. Then, at the Phoenicia Pathwork Center, via a book’s dust cover pinned to a notice board, I stumbled across “Hands of Light” by Barbara Brennan.

I was immediately intrigued. A few months later I attended Barbara’s personal introduction to The Barbara Brennan School of Healing (BBSH) at a four day group intensive in East Hampton, NY. The promise she laid out in her first book “Hands of Light” was the teaching of a system of healing that encompassed personal process work along with spirit guide assistance. Brennan Healing Science, as she named it, was a professional approach to energy work that had its roots in Barbara’s training as a Core Energetic Therapist, and as a community member of the Phoenicia Pathwork Center in Upstate New York.

Barbara in 1994 teaching in Japan / Photo by Michael Spatuzzi

Barbara’s private healing practice in the Eighties was only about five years long, combining Core Energetic sessions with her increasing experience as an energy healer, and documented in her published material. She quickly transitioned into only teaching, and building her school. Her model for full spectrum energy healing was inspired. Her books “Hands of Light” and her second book “Light Emerging” acted, in my viewpoint, as an unofficial “doctoral dissertation” on how she had learned to work with her tutelage spirit guide Heyoan, adapting various healing skills that she had been taught.

Fundamentally, her approach to the auric energy body was different from other spiritual teachers. As a former scientist it seemed natural, I would speculate, for Barbara to distinguish different aspects of the auric energy body as “layers” rather than as energetic “dimensions”. The auric energy body is usually perceived by psychics as the material body, the etheric energy body, the astral body, and beyond that more esoteric dimensions of the soul self. These are dimensionally different from each other. I speculated that for Barbara, as the atmospheric scientist, her “layers” map of the auric body may have felt more natural, easier to navigate than esoteric “dimensions”, moving from dense earthy energies (the physical body) up through increasingly sophisticated layers of meaning (each layer accessed through a specific chakra center), until they were unified with a personal individuated will (the “Hara” line), finally culminating in the illumination provided by the Core Star or pure expression of our higher soul nature.

While it was a complex energetic anatomy map to be sure, Barbara’s enthusiasm and brilliance in demonstrating how her system worked, was unmistakable, and powerful to experience in person. Students were deeply impacted by her depth of knowledge, and her charisma. Traversing through her four year training process BBSH students were exposed to a new system of therapeutic energy healing training. In the past, energy healers had found their own way to various teachers, taking on different systems (such as Reiki), working with clients in relative obscurity. Barbara Brennan’s vision was a westernized evolution of this ad hoc healer education, including not only learned skills but college level Anatomy and Physiology, supervised practical feedback, professional ethics, and honing the ability to work with your own spirit guides.. She also required each student to undergo their own personal psychotherapy exploration, working with a psychotherapist or counselor, in order to understand the hidden psycho-emotional forces in their lives.

There are many ways to praise Barbara Brennan’s impact in the world of energy healing, and the vision she shared with so many of us, but the impact upon myself was potent, and long lasting. I discovered first hand that therapeutic energy healing leaves the client not only with release or healing from the past, but it supports the client to evolve themselves further. For myself, the secret of the Brennan Healing Science method is not its complexity, but the synergistic impact upon the client, enhancing the psycho-emotional evolution of each individual… as well as impacting the evolution of the healer themselves. 

I left BBSH after ten years of working as senior faculty, a Vice President of Barbara Brennan Incorporated , and of being a part of a tremendously talented teaching team. However to pursue my own personal speciality in energy healing – an interest in the magickal spiritual healing work of Stylianos Atteshis, along with the study of service magicians past and present – I chose to leave BBSH in 2003. I continue to work with BBSH graduates and students to this day, offering guidance and specialized support in Astral Healing, and chakra relational cord work.

Dean Ramsden and Barbara Brennan at Montauk, NY in 1995

Sadly, after I left employment at the school, I heard that Barbara’s health rapidly deteriorated and that she had distanced herself from active participation in her vocational training business. When she finally retired, and BBSH was sold to Lisa Van Ostrand, it seemed to me that while one cycle had been closed, a new and important one had begun. The current Barbara Brennan School of Healing is staffed by experienced healers and teachers, and I highly recommend those drawn to Barbara’s writings in “Hands of Light” or “Light Emerging” to explore what is offered in their current training programs.

When I awoke in Thailand to read the news that Barbara had passed away, on October 3, 2022, I felt so many complex feelings all at once. Gratitude for my small part in bringing Barbara’s vision into the world, as well as my memories of having known Barbara personally. I was saddened by the loss her family must feel, and sent my psychic condolences to her daughter, and all those in her family. I am sure that for every person who has now, or will be, touched by her writings, or by the memory of meeting her, that Barbara Brennan’s legacy will continue into the future. 

Thank you for all you shared with us, Barbara, and for all the risks you took that allowed such a powerful community to form around you, and which will now move forward into the future in new and innovative ways. May you rest peacefully between incarnations, proud of what you accomplished in this lifetime. The world was blessed by your presence, and your amazingly creative healing work, and we are grateful.

© 2022 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.

Photographs ©1994 by Michael Spatuzzi. All rights reserved.

Barbara Brennan’s “Hands of Light” can be purchased via my Amazon affiliate link

Comments 2
  1. These are wonderful reflections to read… Thank you, Dean, for sharing your recollections and perspective through these thoughtful words. This helps amplify and add color to my own connection to Barbara and my BBSH experience. I now appreciate her even more than before – what a great being and brilliant soul she is. Truly a hero of mine (and likely true for many others). I’m utterly grateful to her and frankly, simply in awe of what she shared with all of us.

  2. Just reading this appreciation of Barbara now, Dean, and feeling gratitude for what you have so well said here. We shared these same years at BBSH together and I remained a few years after you left to pursue your own specific interests in the healing field. Isn’t it wonderful that we can celebrate all that this extraordinary woman offered us and the world as well as know when it was time for us each to move into our own specific creative path. I am grateful that I know that is what Barbara wanted for us in the depths of her being. She si with us still….

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Dean Ramsden’s Japanese Language articles

Dean Ramsden’s Japanese Language articles


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