Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 23, 2009

Using the power of thought

In an effort to generate discussion about the impact of one woman’s spiritual journey among members of the Knox community, the Pagan Student Alliance invited Leann McWhorter to discuss her 30 years of experience working with dreams and quantum energy healing.

Knox College Junior Ashley Atkinson, President of the Pagan Student Alliance, said, “The main reason I started Pagan Student Alliance was to create a safe space for pagans on campus, and to create dialogue. After talking with Leann McWhorter and discovering her wide array of interests and talking with PSA, we decided healing energy would be a good workshop topic.”

As a faithful member of a Pentecostal Church in her hometown, McWhorter developed a strong sense of religion throughout high school and college that led her to pursue a lifestyle dedicated to spiritual healing work. Although her local church was a space where she could “be somewhere where people could sing, clap, and be fully alive,” McWhorter sought a mode of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing that was not bound by “the constraint of an organization or institution.”

While many students were willing to accept the spiritual basis underlying McWhorter’s theory and practice of energy healing, the scientific explanation she presented to defend her belief system was articulated in a controversial manner. On her own perspective and degree of skepticism, Atkinson said, “I do a lot meditation, which has been proven to have positive side effects on your brain, but I was a little skeptical about Leann’s idea about everything being a light particle.” Knox freshman Emily Berarducci followed up on her own level of skepticism by saying, “I was skeptical about her philosophical comment about everything possibly being an illusion.”

Although McWhorter claimed that matter and energy are identical in nature, that thoughts exist in the form of light, and that light doesn’t travel at all since it has no mass, her universal message about personal journeys is relatable to many individuals. “Whether or not you believe in a higher power, you believe that there’s something you’re here to do. Life is all about finding your true self,” McWhorter said.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the lecture was McWhorter’s perspective on knowledge. She continuously emphasized the notion that “knowledge is about being put into a meditative state, experiencing no time or space.” Although her use of meditation and her tendency to see the mind and body as separate entities brings to mind the ideology of the philosopher Descartes, McWhorter’s process of sending energy through a thought in an effort to enlighten or heal a person with her hands is very unique.

McWhorter’s two-hour lecture incorporated group activities that allowed attendees to participate in energy transmission tasks, fueled by the power of thought. Throughout the second portion of the presentation, McWhorter stressed that “heat represents healing energy, and cold represents consciousness.” While many individuals felt skeptical about working with the energy bound by a chi ball and about joining hands to send the energy of thought, the power of expectation led many to “let go, and feel a little energy,” as McWhorter said.

Despite the initial wave of skepticism generated by students prior to the energy activities hosted by McWhorter, senior Krystle Liggins said, “People were skeptical, but then, all of a sudden, something changed.” The entire dynamic of the lecture setting was altered when people began to open up to the energy activities with a contagious level of enthusiasm. “All of us had the chance to create our own reality based on our thoughts. Leann really wants to heal people, and even if it doesn’t work in some cases, people will believe they have more power over their thoughts in the end.”

Whether or not individuals choose to agree with McWhorter’s beliefs on dream interpretation or energy healing, her presentation and set of activities has the capacity to yield both conversation and acceptance of other spiritual groups. “Acceptance is a big role in paganism in general. It’s so important to be exposed to other religious paths. We need to learn tolerance for one another,” Atkinson said.

If it is true “the main purpose of the PSA is to provide a safe, encouraging place for people who identify as pagan or are interested in paganism,” as communicated by Berarducci, then Leann McWhorter’s lecture definitely contributed to the goals of the Pagan Student Alliance.

Elise Hyser

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