As I write this post it has been a month since the passing of Barbara Brennan, author of “Hands of Light” and “Light Emerging”, two essential books for every therapeutic energy healer. These two books form the foundation of Barbara’s vocational training: The Barbara Brennan School of Healing (BBSH). Please note that the following post represents only my own thoughts and remembrances of working with Barbara Brennan twenty years ago, as both the class dean of the PS2 class for ten years, but also as a vice president of her business.
The importance of astral healing work for healers
In this article I want to briefly explore events from over twenty years ago, when Barbara Brennan was actively teaching and developing her energy healing school. As class dean of the PS2 or second year, she and I had a number of discussions in 2000 and 2001 that floated the idea of expanding the BBSH structure from a four year program into a five year one. Ever open to new ideas that supported the evolution of her school, Barbara seriously considered an expansion of the second year curriculum, but in the end decided against it. I fully supported her final decision, purely on the grounds of added cost for students to an already expensive tuition, but additionally because of some obvious problems that a deeper study of astral healing material could present for new students when it became time to progress into the third and fourth years.
Let’s start with looking at an outline for a BBSH student so we can then conjecture at what could have made up a second year PS2 expanded curriculum.
A personal overview of the Barbara Brennan system of energy healing and personal transformation
In future presentations I intend to go into greater depth by offering a personal commentary on Barbara’s first two books. As they are still under copyright protection I will only reference the books minimally, and not use any of their illustrations. But for the purposes of this article, here is my own minimal interpretation of the Barbara Brennan healer training system.
Thoughts put on paper are nothing more than footsteps in the sand: you see the way the man has gone, but to know what he saw on his walk, you want his eyesArthur Schopenhauer
Barbara Brennan’s personal process and energy healing work is heavily rooted in both Pathwork Guide teachings and the Core Energetic neo- Reichian psychotherapeutic concepts. Far beyond the scope of this article, these are both easily researched by anyone interested in Brennan’s system of personal healing and transformation. But the nutshell version is that – for Brennan – personal development follows Willheim Reich’s insights on the practical application of the release of emotional and muscular holding (or “armor”) reflected in common personality styles, or character structures. The release of pent-up or underpowered emotional libido energy should lead towards a rebalanced and revitalized human being. Brennan, following John Pierrakos, added to this approach a map of the chakras and interactions with energy flows that reinforce the core energetic belief system: reason, will, and emotional energy centers. Once in balance after undergoing therapeutic healing, the experience of the core self would infuse the client’s healing process.
While Core Energetics and Pathwork Guide approaches used a slow and steady therapeutic process to first make character structure conscious, and then explore “healing responses” that lead towards more satisfying energy flows than our habitual psycho-emotional “armor”, Brennan saw the energy work as one way to speed up the process of becoming conscious – and to the healing of trauma – by the application of hands-on energy healing work. Taking her initial training with the premier energy healing teacher of the time, Rev Rosalyn L. Bruyere, as a starting place for her students, the first year of Brennan’s vocational training used Brennan’s version of Rev Bruyere’s basic chelation technique as a way to gently ease the client into subsequently deeper processes of healing.
It was a bold strategy. Rev Bruyere’s full chelation skill (passed onto her from her spirit teacher) was already an effective and powerful way to run energy through the client, so as to evoke a positive shift in them, or to draw out (“chelate”) forces that imbalance the body. To the chelation technique she had learned Brennan added in core energetic grounding techniques, and stressed healthy personal boundaries between healer and client. The result was less an improvement on the original chelation skill, and more of a preparation for the client to be invited deeper into a new world of possibilities: the self-healing therapeutic goal.
By the time a BBSH student completed their first year of training in BBSH, the importance of personal process in conjunction with a deepening into the astral world material, was presented to them. Using a Reichian/Freudian perspective on the psyche (Higher self, Lower self, Mask self) students began to see the human energy body the way core energetic therapist Barbara Brennan saw it: chakras and character structure requiring transformation, release, and eventual orientation towards the “Core” Self. Experience of the core self energies could be viewed as the goal of Reichian process: the experience of a full human identity, rather than sufffering caused by a self identity split or disconnected from a living Universe.
In order to progress into the third and fourth years of Brennan’s school, basic personal processing skills needed to be actively embraced by the student, so they could then later use their own lived experience and guide their own clients through the core self therapeutic experience. The movement from an idealized projection of what energy healing is (expansion of self to include the energy body of self and of others) into a vehicle to guide a client from character structure habitual holding into self responsible personal and interpersonal process, is a huge conceptual leap.
And there was the additional factor that each healing teacher acts as a ritual elder for their students, transmitting certain energetic frequencies to them, passing lived experiences on to the next generation. Having studied with several powerful healers in my career, I can vouch for this as a major factor in energy healing work: the transmission of the frequencies originally held by the founder or teacher of a system, then passed on to their students, and finally to the client.
Depending on the individual student, this knowledge was either embraced slowly, or resisted mightily. In fairness to the student, the second year of BBSH was too much to be absorbed fully. In addition, the accumulation of energy healings, teaching transmissions from Brennan and other teachers, along with an increased ability to interact with the auric energy body, eventually revealed what was often a major factor in every healiing process: the reality of the astral world. As the spirit world, chakra relational cords, and heritage / past life healing work emerged for the student healer there was a natural need to know more about how astral healing actually worked.
This is where the talk of a second part to the second year of the BBSH program came about: how to learn to do personal process via character structure energetics, while getting your bearings in the world of Western and Asian esoteric or magickal traditions. A shaman or magickal practitioner was usually given training in working with the astral world as a part of their apprenticeship and long-term study. But the BBSH was dealing first with personal process and secondly with the astral, in the same year. It was too much material in too short of a time to make sense of it all. Barbara saw that, and I as a class dean experienced it firsthand, and so was born the idea of adding on a second part to the second year, one that would help make sense of the astral world but still coherent with the overall structure of BBSH.
After they had passed from second year to third year, BBSH student were inducted into the more highly structured fifth level of Barbara’s map of the auric energy field: non emotional, intentional actions that drew upon spiritual hierachies such as spirit guides with specialized skills. Now the student was following in Barbara’s footsteps as an therapeutic energy healer: connecting with a specialized spirit guide or spirit mentor. Barbara’s own tutelage spirit guide, Heyoan, may well have been the co-creator of BBSH, guiding Barbara’s choices and preferences from this, the “fifth” level of the auric field. BBSH students often began to work with their own tutelage spirit guides, so that once graduated, they had astral support in their healing rooms at home. Additionally, the Hara Line, or “line of intentionality” was integrated into their skill set,. This is a skill that, ironically, had one foot in magick, in the astral world, as it applied a preference for an outcome (“intention”) over the other forces working upon a client’s healing journey.
Finally, after much yeoman’s work, the BBSH student entered their fourth year, and prepared to present to senior teachers a practice case where they had worked with a practice client, and also demonstrate being able to articulate what happened, in therapeutic terms. The case presentation was the graduation initiation of each student, where they demonstrated a practical understanding of “Brennan Healing Science”: taking a client through several sessions, resulting in a positive and healthy shift in the client’s experience. Also, students studied the use of Barbara’s Core Star Healing skill, an energetic infusion of the client with the highest soul-quality the healer could access. Graduation took the form of Barbara with her favorite healing bird feather, granting the yearnings of her students for their future. It was a kind and powerful acknowledgement of each student’s dedication and hard work over four (or five) challenging years. Many BBSH graduates look back on their struggles with fondness, as do I myself, with some moving on to become BBSH teachers themselves.
What could have been added to the PS2 “second year”?
In my recollection of talking to Barbara about a “part two” to her PS2 year, few specifics were made concrete. The key theme, though, was to give each student more time to assimilate and integrate the astral world into their lives, and into their healing work. Perhaps in some way, my own individuation process from BBSH highlights some of those options available, as for me the astral healing / theurgical work became – and still is – my primary mode of healing.
Here are some candidates for a second PS2 year:
- Dissolving our preconceptions about the Astral world, and spirit beings
- Animism: everything is alive
- Separating what is self from what is other: the individuation process contrasted with merging or “borrowing” identity
- Ritual and Symbolism as bridges between the human world and non-human worlds
- Elemental Magick: fire, water, air, and earth
- The Fifth Element: aether, as the quantum bridge that connects everything together in time and space
- A short history of Western Esoteric essential resources from Agrippa to Chaos Magic
- Astral healing hygiene: how to clean or insulate yourself and your clients from astral world invasions or destructive influences
- The tools of the Shaman or folk magic service magicians: practical tools such as divination, tracking signs, and use of time-honored devices such as the Witch Bottle.
- Sympathetic Magick: recognizing and using correspondences to add power and support to your healing work
- Unbewitching: breaking the negative enchantments either in this life or in your heritage line. Includes exorcism work that repels or extracts damaging astral attachments.
- Protective magick: personal boundaries, physical and energetic amulets (including protection spells for a vulnerable client), and banishing techniques
- How to track and test spirit guides over time, measuring their effectiveness in your healing work
- Working with thought forms (sentient projections) , or created group thought forms (egregores), that distort our or our client’s perceptual reality. Recognizing Mind Control techniques, and de-hypnotherapy
- Astral “traveling” : extending your energy healing work and perceptions across the planet. How to do astral healing at a distance.
- Chakra cord energetics: working with the astral components of relational chakra cords to others, and self-cords that anchor your current personality to your body
- Sigils as tools to focus and align your magickal power as healer, and to bring forth the personal power of the client over time
At the end of our conversation about this change to the school it became clear that the impact on BBSH students by these additional studies would be monumental, and could potentially distracting them from moving into Brennan’s signature healing skill: the core star expansion technique. Any demonstration of Brennan working with a student as part of a teaching segment, would usually culminate with her use of her core star energies. Barbara Brennan’s workflow with a client had a format: first make clear the conflicts in the client’s energy body, opening the path for more core star or authentic soul energy to fill the client’s now-purged energy system. In other words, the Reichian solution for suffering made manifest as therapeutic energy healing work.
There one other omission to the training of healers, that deserved to be addressed, in addition to the astral world study component: the acknowledgement and alignment with a higher power.
For instance, in my studies with many other sources, such as Rev Rosalyn L. Bruyere, and with Dr Stylianos Atteshlis (“Daskalos”) all lectures by them on healing work began with an established prayer. In their case as they followed a Christian path, and used The Lords Prayer / Pater Noster. Healing skills were aligned with the existing foundation of a higher power, which could as easily be aligned instead to Judaic, Buddhist, Islamic, or First Nation spirituality, with the commonality that you place yourself – as healer -within a current lineage of spiritual power.
Instead of such an alignment, Brennan placed herself (and on occasion, other trusted healers) as a medium or channel bringing in a mysterious presence she called The Goddess, existing within no clearly identifiable spiritual tradition. Was she seeding a new evolution of her work, in her transmission of this “Goddess”? Was it a new bridge to aligning ourselves with an unknown spiritual authority? Or was she connecting with an ancient spiritual force, one that pre-dated current religions? Sadly, we may never know her intent.
I hope this short article offers some insight into the development of Barbara Brennan’s healing model, and perhaps shows how much practical effort and creative energy she put into manifesting her vocational school for therapeutic energy healers. Like all who studied with her, or knew her, Barbara Brennan will always be seen as an icon for the evolution possible in the field of energy healing. She not only wrote about it in her books, but she brought those books to life, through the creation of The Barbara Brennan School of Healing. And we are the better for it.
© 2022 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.