Amnys Darbyshire


Jessica Raschke


Bowral, New South Wales


Hamish Ta-mé


February 9, 2014

Amnys Darbyshire

Amnys Darbyshire: Playful exploration, body healing and self-care

The effervescent and joyful Amnys Darbyshire leads a diverse life, acquiring and experiencing spiritual knowledge to help heal others. Her energies have led her to a life of massage, yoga and wholefoods, and deep forays into fascinating territories such as menstruation and Eastern philosophies. I sat outside with Amnys to chat about her life and explorations; it was a sparkling Sunday morning with birds tweeting to their heart’s content.

Jess: The Soul Spectrum interviews people about soul and soulfulness, but I’m using those terms in a really broad sense to look at how people bring meaning into their lives. I’m starting off each conversation by asking people to tell me a little bit about themselves.

Amnys: Well, I’m a massage therapist and I’ve been doing that for about 10 years. I initially did my study in remedial massage in Canberra. Then I moved to the Central Coast to visit a friend and I saw a double rainbow from the sea to the land, as well as dolphins, and I thought, “I must move here!” As you do! And from there I met a really interesting lady who has mentored me to where I am now in a light way [more about this lady later]. I found some work doing remedial massage and I studied Tibetan massage, a branch of Tibetan medicine, and how that can intertwine with certain body types. I followed that study with Chi Nei Tsang, which is a Taoist abdominal massage. The Taoists say it is the highest kind of medicine, because you massage the abdomen and change the internal organ energy so it can be released and transformed. So I did a lot of work with these two techniques early on in my career. That’s the foundation of my massage technique and my concept of bodywork.

I also did a lot of Qi gong, which involved meditation to ensure your energy is very clear. Both of those methodologies have a base in spirituality and energy work, but they work with the physical body. During that time I started doing the Five Tibetans Yoga, which I practiced for years and years. This is an ancient form of yoga that I see as a basic and powerful life practice. It is five postures that you repeat 21 times each, beautifully simple and powerful.

When I moved to the Southern Highlands I started to take classes of other forms of yoga, which opened me up to much more and I fell more deeply in love with yoga. The first time I saw the sign for yoga teacher training [at Bowral Yoga Studio] I felt the call to become a teacher. And a year later I am now a yoga teacher as well as a massage therapist.

Jess: What was the compelling factor with massage in the first place? What drew you to doing massage in particular?

Amnys: I travelled for a few years when I was 18 and in that time I used to go to parties, raves, and things like that. I always ended up touching people and giving them a massage. I used to bring a little tube of hand cream so I could sit down with people and give them hand massages.

Jess: That would be a quite unique thing to do!


Amnys: It was! It was to connect with people. I would think, “I like you and I’m just going to give you a hand massage,” so I could connect with them. So that was a start and then I came back to Australia. I went back to Europe and I found my way to this gathering called the Rainbow Gathering, which is like a travelling festival that follows the moon cycle and it goes all around Europe. So I found myself on top of a mountain in Italy at this gathering. You had to climb this mountain for an hour to get to the top. When I reached the top I can still remember viewing this clearing and I could see teepees, tents, lots of hippies roaming around, I could the smell of smoke from fires, and I could hear the distant sound of drums beating. There I was given or initiated with reiki from this little Italian man called Gavani. It was over three days and on the last day we all had a day of silence and fasting, I had never done anything like this before in my life. I think that’s when I realised that I wanted to work with people. Healing and massage just opened up and I thought, “Okay, that’s a good start.”

Jess: A lot of people in the mainstream wouldn’t have been so open to a lot of the ideas that you’re talking about. So what was it about you and your background that would explain that kind of openness?

Amnys: Maybe when I was growing up… Well, I grew up on a farm, and when I was under 10 my younger sister and I shared a horse. And then one day I said, “I don’t want to look after this horse.” Mum said, “You either have to look after a horse and you can ride, or you can’t have a horse.” I didn’t want to do that so Mum said, “You have to do something.” Mum would say, “Go and try this or that,” so I got shipped off to all of these different courses. If I showed an interest in something, it would be supported. I would start doing tennis and then I would get over that. Then it would be, “Let’s do art, let’s go to art camp!” Then it landed on drama, which I did for most of my teens. As a kid you have to explore characters, and learn to be open and playful. So maybe it was about trying lots of different things, just exploring and experiencing.

Jess: It sounds like your Mum was really influential in the sense that she encouraged you to go out searching.

Amnys: Yes, to find and seek.

Jess: So what happened with drama, did you embrace that? Or was it just something that you took on board for a little while?

Amnys: I did and then I don’t know what happened. When I was about 16 or 17, I started getting really shy. I was out on the stage and I felt like, “No, I can’t do that!” So I started doing backstage stuff. And then it stopped when I left school.

Jess: What do you see when you are connecting with and massaging a person?

Amnys: It varies from person to person; each massage is different. To begin with I go very quiet, it’s like a meditation that I go into. Sometimes I get a lot of information, I see a lot of images, or it’s just a certain word that comes to me and I just sit with that. I’m feeling the energy of a person, just allowing my hands do what they do. Sometimes I go into people’s bodies with my mind’s eye and my intention, and I see a little ball or a block. So I bring my attention to that and in my mind I am touching whatever needs to be touched. It feels like I am listening to the body, I see nothing, but hear in pictures, it is a little odd to explain. Then sometimes I’m in a playful mood and I’ll just say, “I’m going to blow up that blockage!” [Laughs.] “I will shoot all of this energy over there!” That’s when I’m in my cheeky and playful mood. All of this is happening in my imagination as I am giving the hands-on massage. I do a lot of rocking movements that allow the body to realign with its own wisdom, so I give the body the space to come back to itself. It also helps me feel and see where the body is holding on. To me it feels as though I am just creating space within the body to come back naturally to balance and alignment. You know, sometimes when you get stuck in your head, just going for a walk creates space and it is all that you need to feel good again.


Jess: It gets the energy flowing again.

Amnys: Yes, and sometimes a massage is very straight down the line, I’m just working on sore shoulders, so I relax the muscles in the shoulder.

Jess: A more perfunctory massage?

Amnys: Yeah. It depends on the person and where they’re at. I always ask permission if they want information, if I get information, because it’s not up to me to just blurt it out.

Jess: On your business card you describe yourself as an intuitive massage therapist and that’s what you’re describing now. Do you find that people come to you because they want your help to find something within themselves?

Amnys: Yes, sometimes I do get people for that, or they want something shifted energetically, if they’ve got some issue communicating, or a heavy heart. I use the Chi Nei Tsang abdominal massage to assist with that. Sometimes I put my hands on people and I get flooded with information. That’s usually through massaging the abdomen, because that’s the emotional centre, and people can release from there and allow the energy to move through their bodies. But with those, because I think people are really powerful in their own sense, I’m more encouraging of their own wisdom that’s there. I don’t always encourage people to come back; they can go off and do it themselves. I’d much prefer that people learn how to self-care and self-nurture, so I give that kind of encouragement.

Jess: What kind of feedback do you get from the people that you are working with?

Trusting myself is probably the key to being an intuitive massage therapist.

Amnys: There’s a lot of, “That was great!” It’s hard to know because some people say, “That was the most amazing massage; that was very different to what I’ve experienced before; the whole body is tingling.” Sometimes I don’t remember what I say to people but they come back and say, “When you said that it was really true and all of this stuff has happened since that time.” I don’t usually ask, I just allow the person to be, which can actually be a bit tough hanging in the unknown, not knowing if I have done a good job or not. I see all of this stuff and I kind of want to get feedback that I have ‘nailed it’ but I just have to trust in myself and let go of being right or wrong. Trusting myself is probably the key to being an intuitive massage therapist.

Jess: It sounds like there is an inherent connection with energy and spirit for you, and an ability to intuit what is going on in a person. I’m just assuming that that was always there? Or did you realise one day that something was going on and that you’ve got this capacity to tap into a person’s energy and intuit quite accurately what’s going on in them?

Amnys: It was probably inherently there without me knowing as a child. My Dad remembers that, when I was little, he would be building things, and he always loved building with me because he would be building something and before he needed a tool I would be handing it to him. So that kind of thing was always there. I did a lot of training in intuition and how to use it in different ways. Techniques like reading symbols or shape shifting, and refining those skills. But I think it was very much my first nature of knowing how to do that, but then I worked on refining it.

Jess: So what does training in intuition entail? What does that look like?

Amnys: I did two years of intensive training with a guy called William Whitecloud who wrote a book called The Magician’s Way, personal development stuff, creating your life using your intuition as a guide, looking at beliefs, assumptions, tuning into people, reading their faces, intuitive writing, doing quite a lot of study and practice. In the course we studied hermetic philosophies, The Kabbalah. There is a book called The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz, which is about understanding how energy moves. Even with the Tibetan philosophies and the Chi Nei Tsang there is quite a lot of meditative work. You have to work intuitively to feel things and become more sensitive. But the intuition training was more about learning to use that for your own guidance, letting intuition become the predominate creative force in your life. So you can tune into a vision that you or another person have, and receive information, and look at different aspects of it and see what the next step or action to take is. There was also a lot of written guidance as well. First learning how to get into that state, getting to a guide, talking to this guide and writing the information. But before I did any intuitive writing, I remember as a 19-year-old I was writing a lot of dark poetry and horrible things and then one day I wrote a question, “Why do I feel this way?” And then this whole different thing came out, my whole writing changed and I could never write like I was before again, it just [clicks fingers]…

Jess: Shifted…

Amnys: Yeah.

Jess: Quite dramatically by the sounds of it.

Amnys: I couldn’t do anything, it just changed that day. I can’t even read the past stuff.

Jess: So was that a move from the teenager stuff to something a bit more enlightened and adult?


Amnys: Yeah, I think so. There was also a lot of other stuff going on. I remember my first experience, around about the same time, of sitting with my friend and we were meditating and it’s the only experience that I’ve ever had like this, but I became connected. I just felt like I was connected with everything. I became light and I thought, “Oh my god, I’m in the universe!” I’ve never experienced anything like that ever since or before.

Jess: That’s very formative. I’m thinking again from a mainstream perspective that it’s all quite esoteric, and to jump into a lot of those things you need to feel confident and supported. Did you have a community around you in those early stages?

Amnys: Yes, I probably did. I studied Buddhism and I went to a lot of Buddhist meditation groups, so they were like-minded people. And I went travelling, so I went away from home and I found like-minded folks, I just followed my nose around. People just arrive when they need to arrive.

Jess: You mentioned earlier a mentor. Can you tell me a little bit about her?

Amnys: Her name is Barbara Elkins and she is an amazing woman, she has done so much in her life. She is turning 70 this year. We are both very excited. She’s done a lot of personal development work, she has had a few different businesses. She’s a really amazing artist, and she is also a seamstress; she now owns a company called Wisdom for Living, selling all sorts of natural remedies and products. The first time I met her I was looking for work in this particular area and I was late to the interview, because I had a bad head cold, and she was very direct with me and told me off for being late. Everything was against me, I wasn’t myself that day. So the next day I woke up early with a really strong urge to see her, I thought, “I’ve got to apologise to this lady.” So I saw her that day and apologised. I said, “I’m really sorry,” and that I did not expect to get the job but wanted to apologise, and she accepted my apology, she was just really lovely. Later she taught me the Five Tibetans and she took me under her wing, so our friendship grew from there. And along the way I then asked her to be my mentor.

Jess: That’s a big step to ask someone to be your mentor! Usually it just happens by default, you slowly develop a relationship like that with someone, but to actually ask, “Can you be my mentor?” is a big step. So, all of my questions are a pathway to learn more about you and your background. But The Soul Spectrum is focusing on the soul and spirit, and I think you probably answered some questions just by describing your background and your journey, but what is soul or spirit to you?

The soul is this thing that is connected to all time and space.

Amnys: I have this beautiful book called Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom of the Celtic World by John O’Donohue. He describes the soul as, well, the soul holds the body, the body doesn’t hold the soul. That is, the soul is this thing that is connected to all time and space. That’s what I think the soul is. There is an individual spark that is experiencing this life and this creativity through the form that we’re in and the life that we have. But spirit is the ether, it’s everywhere. It’s space, the experience that I mentioned when I was 19 or 20, that’s what I think spirit is. You can’t see it, you can see the movement of the wind, but you can’t see that wind. When you breathe in and out, the air that you breathe in has been taken in by the whole world. It’s that connection with everything. Being connected to that spiritual aspect and knowing that there is something beyond just the physical form. We are just a grain of sand. It excites me because I have no idea what it is, really. Words can’t really describe it. I can have senses of it and I could have experiences of it but it’s just part of something that is beyond my current understanding. But I connect better when I’m in that playful mood. Children are innocent and they are connected to that, they’re just in it, they’re just in innocence. It excites playfulness within me because I think, “I’m just this little thing and there’s all this stuff and I can explore it!”

Jess: It excites a sense of wonder and awe?

Amnys: Yeah!

Jess: So what’s a day in the life of Amnys like? What do you do on a day-to-day, weekly, monthly basis?

Amnys: I have a terrible habit of being interested in too many things. It’s a fun habit, I can’t help it. In the mornings I will get up early and either go to a yoga class or do my own practice of yoga and some joint mobilisation. I scull a litre of water first thing in the morning. And then I probably have a coffee with my boyfriend, and then it depends on the day, I could be massaging, teaching or working in my office job. So if I start later I generally do a bit of studying yoga because I am new into that. I’m really getting into menstruation and women’s mysteries and the spiritual aspect of that and how it’s so empowering. I also study Don Tolman, which is about wholefoods and how to heal the body through eating or fasting and more. And if I have a nice morning off I’ll sunbake in the backyard. In the afternoons I might do some painting and carving, so I’ve been exploring those things. Then in the afternoons sometimes I do another yoga class and do a bit more study and make some dinner. I’m a bit of a nanna, I like to go to bed early.

Jess: That’s living the good life, really, being able to have a long and restful sleep!

Amnys: Yeah! So I like to calm down in the evenings, either call a friend or read or watch some cool thing. My boyfriend and I have been dashing down to the beach and having a quick swim in the afternoon, which has been really lovely. Just dive in and say, “Okay we’re wet, let’s go home!” And once a week I have a date night with my boyfriend.

Jess: I wanted to ask about the recent decision to teach yoga. Can you tell me a little about that, what brought you to that decision?

Amnys: I always wanted to be a teacher but I didn’t know what I wanted to teach. So there’s been a yearning to teach something, but I’ve never had the feeling that I had the wisdom or the guts to teach. It began by asking Barbara, who is a teacher of the Five Tibetans, “How do you learn to teach this? And she said, “You learn from me.” So she was coaching me in how to teach it and I learnt it that way. When I moved to the Southern Highlands I got into doing lots of yoga, I went to different people’s classes. And then I saw Kate’s studio go up [Bowral Yoga Studio] and on her list it said ‘Teacher Training’ and I felt this hit in my heart, “You are going to do this!” And I thought, “What? Ah! Okay!” But it took me six months to actually tell Kate. So it’s like a calling and now I say to myself, “Oh my god, I’m home.” Teaching, I just love it to pieces, it’s just the most divine thing.

Jess: It’s quite an intensive course, it’s about a year’s worth of very intensive study and practice and then actually getting out there in front of a class and starting to teach. So how did you feel with your first go at teaching?

Amnys: It was pretty nerve-wracking. Through a series of events, me and another teacher just got thrown in the deep end to teach, but I like to do things that challenge me, so I was offered this opportunity and I thought, “Okay,” and I just kept saying yes to everything. But it was pretty nerve-wracking the first time and then it got easier. It’s still nerve-wracking.

Jess: So does it feel like your “real” vocation as opposed to massage? What’s the narrative that you tell yourself about the two and how they work together?

Amnys: I love working with people and the body. When it’s one-on-one, it’s such an honour to work so intimately with people, I get to touch a lot of people. So if I don’t massage my hands go, “I need to touch people!” But it’s quite labour-intensive, so I see yoga as having more longevity. But one leads into the other. I like being able to help people align themselves in a different sense and build that self-care idea. Yoga can facilitate more of that self-care. People can come to a class and maybe do some yoga at home, whereas a massage is more passive in that sense. But the study I’ve been doing with wholefoods will be the next aspect that combines the two.

Jess: So it’s all about body, mind and spirit, and encouraging people to look after themselves?

Amnys: I think it is. I get a lot of people who are very disempowered by the medical system. They seem to me as if they don’t have any say in it, we don’t know how to do things for ourselves, but you can actually quite easily take care of yourself and cure yourself from major things within a very short period of time, but people just don’t know that wisdom.

Jess: So when you say massage is labour intensive, that’s in the physical sense, but is it also energetically intensive?

Amnys: Yes, sometimes it can be. I am working with energy and I can give quite a firm massage. People know that I am touching them, I’m not doing fairy fingers. So physically, even if I wasn’t doing spiritual work, I’m very present, so it’s quite an intense focus. I can come out and I’m a space cadet after a massage. But I’m always learning to work with it.

Jess: You hear from people in the healing professions that a basic part of their training is to learn how to disconnect from negative and dark energy. Do you encounter that in your work? And if you do, how do you deal with it?

Amnys: I used to a bit, I would take people’s energy on. Some people also talk about protecting yourself, but I don’t really like that concept. I understand it and I’ve done that in the past, but I prefer to think that people are whole and complete. So whatever’s there, if it’s a negative thing, that’s actually a part of them and it’s through those wounds and in embracing your own darkness that you become whole. So I don’t think I encourage people to expel this energy, I encourage people to encompass that within themselves, because if you are all light then it becomes wishy-washy.

Jess: Your feet are not on the ground, I suppose?

Healing is about encompassing pain because life can be painful, but it’s part of the experience that we get to have.

Amnys: Yeah. I think of myself as a one-way street so I don’t take energy on. I don’t give my energy or do my best not to. I just draw it in from heaven and earth and that’s where it comes from. It’s not me taking it away from someone. If you face your shadow, well, it’s really hard at first and there’s embarrassment, fear or shame with whatever comes with that dark aspect, but when you learn to just say, “That’s just me being like that,” it actually makes you a more whole and complete person. So healing is about encompassing that pain because life can be painful, but it’s part of the experience that we get to have.

Jess: It gives you some depth.

Jess: So there’s a few things going on. What do you envisage for yourself from hereon? Perhaps in a few years time or even across your lifetime, if you’ve thought that far ahead?

Amnys: Well, I have, I was sitting up a tree in a cemetery contemplating my death…

Jess: That’s very Tibetan!

Amnys: I know, it was great! [Laughs.] I came out of there in this bliss. I foresee teaching being the main thing, encouraging people to listen to their own wisdom and get back into natural healing. Whether it’s massage or some kind of hands-on healing, something gentle, so that, as my body ages, I can still keep that connection with people. I might have some little munchkins. They can play too! So just building on what I’ve done so far, but I think very much the educational stuff. I have this term, the “utility belt” like Batman, so if you’ve got tools that you can use anywhere, wherever in the world, whatever is going on, you can, for example, just get rid of a headache if you do this exercise or drink water. So giving people the understanding that they’ve got these tools that they can use. Getting people to look after themselves. Go off and be amazing!

Jess: You’re very engaged and interested and you clearly have a really bright and sparky energy, but inevitably most of us will have a tough time or a bad day. How do you deal with that? How do you get yourself out of that space?

Amnys: The first thing I do is honour that emotion. I do my best to understand why it is. Give it the space. Because generally it’s the same story that comes up, it’s not anything new. It’s the same story of, “Oh, I can’t do this,” or “I’m not good enough,” or even “I’m lonely.” So that’s the first thing that I do. I don’t try to run away from it. I just let it be and then I go quiet. I go outside and listen to nature and just be still. And it’s like reconnecting with everything. And I remember the truth of what is driving me and why I’m here. Sometimes I do writing, sometimes I call a friend. I’ve got friends who have done a lot of the intuitive work with me. They’re really great because they don’t collude with me, they just laugh with me and bring back to life. But I also work with my menstruation cycle and I find when I do get blue that it’s around that time. It’s not always, but I honour that as well.

Jess: Can you tell me a little about what you’ve learned?


Amnys: I love menstruation, I think it’s part of women’s power. It’s the only blood let from the body that is natural. I work with my boyfriend with it, he’s amazing. If I feel premenstrual tension or something, if there’s agitation there I call it the Black Cat. There’s a story behind that, but “Black Catting” means, “Stay away from me or I may attack so let me be.” We have had conversations and we’ve come to an agreement. So if I’m in that mood he gives me space and he knows that whatever comes up and how I am is not a personal attack against him, so we’re quite mature in that way. I acknowledge that something is going on and then when I start bleeding I make sure that I rest. It doesn’t have to be the whole day but sometimes I just daydream or lie on the grass, I just allow whatever it is. It’s like a meditation, so I think about what’s going on, why am I feeling this way, I ask the questions. Sometimes I do a bit of writing, even talking to people, you get that information. And I sit down and talk with my partner about what was happening and then we move on from there. Sometimes it is something that we work on as a couple and other times it is something I need to address in my own life. Other times I can get quite prophetic information about my life and things that I need to shift and change. So, since doing that I have just been acknowledging when it comes up. And relationships are usually where it comes out the most. I think relationships are here for the development of our consciousness. Be conscious and move on then allow it to unfold.

Jess: Oftentimes when you’re in a heightened premenstrual tension state it’s usually a red flag saying that something is up. For the rest of your cycle you’re dealing with it okay, or you’re ignoring it or not really looking at it and, then premenstrual tension compels you to address whatever underlying issue is coming up.

Amnys: They say that the veil between the lives of this world and the other world comes down so you can’t pretend, there is no pretending, and in a lot of American Indian and ancient cultures women used to go away and bleed together on the new moon and oftentimes they would have quite prophetic dreams. There is a lot of information that comes in that time and they would come back and that wisdom from the women would be really important to the tribes. That’s the way I see it, I think it’s really important that what I get comes out. But also we’ve got hormones and stuff running around, it’s an altered state of consciousness, really it is.

Jess: I read one theory that premenstrual tension is a biological device to repel a partner because they haven’t made you pregnant! [Laughs.]

Amnys: I haven’t heard that! “You’re no use to me, be gone!” [Laughs.]

Jess: That’s right, you didn’t make me pregnant so I’ve got to clear the way for some new fella! It’s a nice theory but I won’t use it on my husband because he’s so lovely and special. Thanks so much, Amnys.


* For more information about Amnys Darbyshire, please visit

* For more information about Hamish Ta-mé, please visit


Ganga Karen Ashworth


Jessica Raschke


Moss Vale, New South Wales


Hamish Ta-mé


February 17, 2014

Ganga Karen Ashworth: The spirit of singing the soul and self

Ganga Karen Ashworth is passionate about the voice, and she uses innovative voice therapy to nurture and inspire people to release blocked emotions and sing their truth. Her calming, present and wise energy is absolutely gorgeous to absorb. She spoke with me about her journey from a conventional upbringing in Sydney to the unconventional, spiritual and inspiring life that she leads singing her heart out to heal in the Southern Highlands in New South Wales and beyond. She lives with her husband, Anthony Ashworth, in their energetically charged home in Moss Vale.

Jess: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, your ‘origin story’ so to speak, and then how you came to be where you are today?

Ganga: Well, for want of a better term my upbringing was pretty ‘180 straighty’. I grew up in Sydney as the oldest of two. My Dad was an accountant, and my Mum was a schoolteacher. So we had a very secular family. My parents didn’t really engage in spirituality as such. They sent us off to Sunday School so that part was covered. But it wasn’t really something that we discussed in the home. And I think that I always had a sense that I believed in divinity, I believed in a greater ‘something’ that pulled us forward and connected us. But I didn’t connect with the way that it was done at church, it never felt right. I felt there were other pathways, but I’ve been more able to articulate that as an adult, I knew I had this inner world and a world of imagination. Part of that was that I’d sing away to myself, waiting to be discovered some day. That ‘knight in shining armour’ kind of story. It was about having my voice heard, because I knew how it felt to me, I knew how it made me feel and I wanted that to be shared. And that was something that I did growing up. It was a tricky dance between being a Leo and having that kind of brash personality. I was told once by a teacher at the Conservatorium, “Oh you are a bold girl, aren’t you?” [Laughs.]

Jess: Well, Leos are meant to be very proud!

Ganga: Yes, outwardly there was that bravado, which really serves me in performance and in being able to present myself, but I’m actually a Cancer cusp, I was born on 24 July, and Cancer Moon, so there’s a lot of that nurturing and sensitive aspect to me. So the world of performing, you see what it looks like on all of those TV shows, I guess with that sensitivity, if anybody criticised me, I’d be crushed. But I’ve always sung, it’s always been a part of who I am and who I know myself to be. I probably only got outed when I was about seven. I had a teacher at school who was an exchange teacher from the US, Miss Hough (pronounced “Huff”) was her name, and she sang with us a lot. One of the songs she taught us was Take Me Home Country Road by John Denver. I’d sung it in class and when the band played it at my Auntie’s wedding, I couldn’t help myself, I was up dancing in front of the stage and singing along with them. So my family got me to sing it a lot. I still remember when I had to hit that high note, everybody was wondering, “Will she hit that note?” and all of these people were coming in to watch and there was a universal sag of the shoulders in relief, “She got the high note!” So that’s when I came out as a singer.

Jess: And did you always live in Sydney?

Ganga: Yes, I lived most of my life in Sydney. We moved to the country for a while in a town called Manilla, which is half an hour northwest of Tamworth. I taught in Tamworth schools for a while and then came back to Sydney where I met Anthony.


Jess: So you were ‘outed’ at age seven and what happened thereafter? Did your parents support you in your desire to sing? Or did it simmer for a while until later?

Ganga: It certainly was always there. I remember doing dancing as a young girl, as well. I did ballet, I loved ballet until I realised I wasn’t really built like a ballerina. Even though I had the timing and the creativity, I didn’t really look like a ballerina. So that was something that they very much encouraged. In terms of singing, it was really about what was happening at school. I had piano lessons, that was another thing that I was passionate about, so Mum and Dad really encouraged that.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I was really able to push for singing lessons. It really came about from auditioning for the school musical. One of my friends had a singing teacher, and she had had lessons for a long time, and I got one of the lead roles. She got a lead, but it was a smaller part. And I thought maybe I could sing, maybe if I had lessons it could help me. And so again my parents really encouraged that and I ended up going to the same teacher that my friend had. The teacher was really good. She was a very nurturing and motherly figure, even though she had an operatic background and she had been to the same teacher as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. She used to say, “You sound like a young Kiri!” [Laughs.] So that got me in!

It was something that was encouraged, but only to a degree. “Yes, it’s lovely to be musical and creative, and we will pay for these lessons and exams, and foster all of that, but that’s something you do when you’re growing up. When you get out of school you will need a real job. So what are you going to do when you get out of school?” And this led me to teaching. I had that innate ability and my Mum was a teacher. So it made sense. I even went to vocational guidance and said this is what I’m interested in and never really took a stand that, “I really want to be a singer, and I want to do that as my career.” And I needed to make a living and be a singer, so how could I do that? My options were either music therapy, or music teaching. So I took to the music-teaching path.

Jess: At what point in your career did you decide that you would shift tangent into voice therapy in particular?

I was really passionate about transformation for my own growth and, being a wounded healer, finding answers to my own path, for my own journey.

Ganga: That really involves my spiritual journey, which probably began when I was in my mid-20s. My journey had been my own personal growth and coming to understand experiences that I was having, as well as embracing meditation. I had a friend who was a numerologist, which set me on a path. I read Louise Hay, and I got into crystals. So that was a part of my life, which I was already exploring. I was really passionate about transformation for my own growth and, being a wounded healer, finding answers to my own path, for my own journey. Also there was the shock of having gone from this beautiful and nurturing teacher, to when I went to the Conservatorium with my teacher who was head of vocal studies. I often joke that she had pictures on a wall of Brunnhilde, with the horns and the pitchfork…

Jess: A very quintessential image!

Ganga: Yes, it was very “Old School” and there was a sense of, “We don’t do that here.” For my first recital I wanted to do songs from music theatre. It was, “We don’t do that here, it has to be more serious than that.” And the approach was to really tear the students down and see if they’ve got the chutzpah to fight back and do what it takes to make it in this industry. She stripped my voice back to make sure that the technique was there. The approach was, you know, “Singers don’t exist before age 16, certainly there is something worth considering at age 18, so I really need to teach you everything with a harshness, with a criticism.” I remember so many times being in tears in my singing lessons and I realise that this was my soul expression, this was my heart and soul being expressed through my voice. It happens when I speak but more so when I sing. It was something that, in my experience, because I was so sensitive, really needed nurturing in people. So that influenced my approach to working with students. I had one-on-one singing students then, and I found that it’s your soul that you’re bearing by opening your mouth and revealing it to the world…

Jess: It’s a vulnerable thing to do.

Ganga: It’s incredibly vulnerable. So much comes up, so much emotion in people in singing lessons, so it wasn’t just about singing. And I was really fascinated by that part and I realised that it was not so much the technique that was required, although there were parts of that which support the voice, but it was about what’s getting in the way. What are the beliefs? What are the emotions? What are the emotional charges that are blocking the voice? That’s what I really got fascinated by. Again, it was because of my own journey, and of wanting to nurture someone through to finding their true voice, rather than stripping it back and tearing it down, having power over someone, and that ‘learning by force’ approach.

Jess: So really nurturing a person so they feel that they are in a safe and supportive space?

Ganga: Yes, because safety is such a major issue, I knew it was for me. I understood how necessary it was. It comes with the territory with me.

Jess: Did you undergo training in voice therapy or was it something that evolved from the teaching that you were doing? Did you fashion a trade for yourself?

Ganga: A bit of both. I did some work with a woman called Liz Watters when my daughter, Acacia, was a baby [she was born in 2000]. Liz called it a kinaesthetic process, really going into the body and feeling the sensations that are there around emotions. Not just dealing with the emotion, although that is part of it, but allowing the emotion and really feeling the sensations of the body and being guided by that. So I did some work personally with her and then trained as a facilitator in that approach and found it so potent. The body is so wise, it has that wisdom of what is blocked and what’s going on, but also of what it needs to release to get back into alignment. That was the training that I had and I thought, “Well, we could use this in alignment with the voice.”


I used it when my daughter was a baby, it really taught me about sound healing. She had bad reflux and she would projectile vomit. She was obviously in pain, her face was bright red, and she was pulling up her legs. She would sleep for 20 to 40 minutes at a time and then wake up screaming. So I was going a bit spare [laughs]. It’s hard being a new mum anyway, and I knew that she was suffering but I didn’t know how to fix that. I tried all sorts of things; there were naturopaths that gave me calming teas to chill me out, there were acupuncturists that did acupuncture and acupressure on my daughter and me. But what I found that worked immediately with her every day was using my voice. I’d read this book about sound healing called Sacred Sounds by Ted Andrews, and it had a list of the sounds for different parts of the body. The sound for the stomach and digestion was “orr”, so I held her tummy and I went [sings] “orr” and she would calm down and stop crying. Then I would draw breath and she would start screaming again [laughs].

Jess: You just had to keep doing it!

Ganga: I had to learn to draw breath really quickly so I could keep the sound going. It was something that really seemed to give her some relief. I don’t know, still to this day, if it was the sound healing or the fact she was hearing my voice, or the actual vibration of the sound itself. But that’s what started to turn my head towards the importance of the voice. I thought, “Well, maybe there’s something in there.” And having birthed her the way I did… I had a yoga teacher who worked with me one-on-one; she was in the Desikachar tradition, which is sometimes called yoga therapy, which was such a blessing. She taught me a mantra and I hadn’t been exposed to sacred sounds in that way before. So Acacia was born into that. The hospital staff called our room ‘the ashram’ because we were “om-ing” and I was sounding, and Anthony was standing behind me, holding me. So we had that sacred vibration around her, so she has really been my teacher on that level.

Jess: That would have been quite a beautiful birthing experience.

Ganga: It was beautiful and empowering, no drugs, no intervention, not even any tearing. It was a very conscious birth. That’s another aspect of something that I love to bring, helping women use their voice in birthing.  Not only is it important for women to literally ‘have a voice’ in their experience of giving birth, it’s also incredibly empowering to be able to relieve your own pain and to create a sense of calm, relaxation and focus in such an intense and life-changing experience as bringing a new life into the world – and this is all possible using your voice. I supported one woman to use her voice in this way and she was able to birth her 5kg baby completely naturally with no drugs or intervention. That’s a big baby!

Jess: I wish I had known about voice therapy before I had my children [laughs]! I screamed my way throughout the entire birth of my first child.

Ganga: It’s an intense experience, isn’t it?

Jess: The second time around I had done Calm Birth and knew what to do with my breathing, I knew I had to move around with dance-type moves, and all of that really helped enormously the second time around. It sounds like there’s been a slow evolution for you. You went from being on a more conventional path and then you gradually discovered and opened up to a more unconventional way of being, and embracing spirit and spirituality in your work and also in your family life, more clearly. Was it actually a gradual thing or was there an epiphany where you realised that life makes more sense if you live it in this way?

Ganga: Yes, there’s been a number of those, I would say. I was just thinking about the transition from teaching to doing this kind of work as probably one of them. And even though I had the realisation that this is what I’m passionate about, I had messages. For example, “Take sing therapy to the corporate arena.” What’s sing therapy, then? [Laughs.]

Jess: So you had guides telling you that?

Ganga: Yes, I’ve had really clear guidance since my late-20s when I connected with spirit and with guides, when I was beginning that journey. So I used to have conversations with my guide. My first guide has moved on, I’ve had differing relationships along the way. And again that was through vibration as well, I would feel my left palm vibrating and I knew that that was her. I had to test that along the way, I’ve needed proof that it wasn’t just me making it up. The expression, even the grammar, whether I heard them or had written them down, would come with words that I didn’t know, so that helped to give me a little bit of proof. So I had to go investigating. When you get a sentence like, “Take sing therapy to the corporate world,” well, what does that mean? What is sing therapy? So that pointed me in the direction of bringing the work from the kinaesthetic process into using that with the voice. So epiphanies like that, but it wasn’t really an epiphany, it was more of a guided statement.

Lots of guidance has come through writing, that’s been a big pathway for me. I did Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and so I wrote morning pages and the things that were coming up. There were songs and poems that would just be telling me what I needed to do. Again that was a really gradual process where the information unfolded through writing and through having these messages come and having to investigate them. But still having this need for safety, which kept me in that teaching role. Even though I resigned from working in schools as such, I went back in and did what is known as peripatetic teaching, so teaching one-on-one with students in the class. I went on doing that even when I’d had my daughter. I didn’t want to be just Mummy, I wanted to have some mental stimulation and that’s what brought us to the Southern Highlands. I thought if I’m going to teach in schools, then the values that would be aligned to me would be at a Steiner school. So I came and taught here, but even then it was still teaching in a school. And I realised that what I needed to do, so I could fill my soul up, was the things that I loved. With being a music teacher, I had to be a generalist, work with all sorts of aspects of music and instruments, but what I really loved was the voice. I was absolutely passionate about it. The more I realised that the more I got to be clear and make those boundaries. I actually only want to do this piece; this is the piece that I’m absolutely passionate about. But it took me time to be able to leave teaching, leave that safety of having a “job” job, and leap into doing this.

Jess: This passion for the voice, do you have any sense of where that’s come from? Clearly there was an innate capacity from about the age of seven, but do you have any understanding as to why the voice has been so central in your life?

Ganga: Yes, I’ve done a lot of work around this. It’s interesting, the question you asked before about epiphanies, I’ve spoken about a number of things because there hasn’t been a big bang, there’s been lots of smaller things. A lot of them were related to my birth and how I came into this world, that being my sacred wound. It’s understandable that I’m passionate about making birth conscious and helping women to do that in a way that is empowered.

Jess: So how were you birthed?

Ganga: I don’t think that my Mum had a voice, I was born in the late 1960s and you go to hospital and you do what they tell you. I don’t know how much information she had about birth, but Mum had some difficulties in my labour and they said something about my head not turning. I don’t really understand the logistics, but they decided that they would give her a general anaesthetic and I was a forceps delivery. I’ve done kinesiology and repatterning around this stuff. The force required to birth with forceps is enough to decapitate a full-grown man. The trauma and injury to my little head must have been awful. But I was born, I’m here, and am very grateful for that. And medical technology can really help in those sorts of situations. Obviously there is some kind of bruising, and Mum and I weren’t allowed to see each other for the first 48 hours and so there is that early bonding and abandonment stuff. Looking at how my daughter was born and how my Mum experienced me, I think I was a really refluxy baby as well, and no one really knew what that was. There was also damage to my hip when I was born and that was undiagnosed, so there was a lot of pain. And I screamed a lot. So I developed this lung capacity [laughs] and this passion and the need to be heard.

Jess: And you felt there was a need to be heard for your mother as well, so there is some kind of sensitivity around that issue, particularly among women. Do you find that you work mostly with women clients?

Ganga: Yes. I certainly have some male clients and they tend to be very aware, on a journey of some description.

Jess: ‘Honorary women’, then? [Laughs.]

The voice and emotions are not separate and we see that in a performance. The ones that really move us are the ones that are able to be in touch with their emotions … they can convey something that we can connect with.

Ganga: Absolutely! They’re okay about delving into their inner emotional realms. Because that’s what it takes in the way that I work, in my belief, to connect with the voice. It’s my belief that the voice and emotions are not separate and we see that in a performance. The ones that really move us are the ones that are able to be in touch with their emotions. And they can convey something that we can connect with, it doesn’t necessarily have to come through the actual sound, it can be that embodied energy.

Jess: Can you tell me a little bit more about your voice work? You’re dealing with people who come to you for a reason, I suspect, the reason being that they want to free their voice in some way. Can you tell me some anecdotal stories about some memorable clients, things that come to mind that help drive your passion?

Ganga: Wow, so many! I’m very honoured in having that over and over again, the experience of seeing some real change happening. One of the major things that people come with is feeling that they can’t sing in tune or that they have some sort of blockage and can’t express themselves clearly, particularly women who feel they can’t speak their truth. On that one I’ll speak about something that happened quite recently, which led to an epiphany for me. One particular client was working with her challenge in speaking her truth and noticing that in relationships with her partner and people that she is really close to. She had this belief that, “If I speak my truth, it will hurt others.” So of course you will do anything to go around the subject gently, be as diplomatic as possible, to the point where you don’t actually say anything. You’re so busy making it okay for the other person. And I had three clients on that one day that had something to do with what was coming up for them, it was believing that they’re not enough. So when you get that much repetition, the same issue in that many clients, it’s, “Get the message, Ganga, there’s something you need to look at.” And that’s something I’m well aware of, it’s a belief that I’ve had for a long time that I’m not enough, not good enough. I’ve worked enough on it to the point where I’ve given it a name, it’s “Notenoughacus”, like Snuffleupacus, you know, with Big Bird on Sesame Street [laughs].


The very next day I had a big conflict with Anthony where I believed I was speaking my truth and I believed that I was speaking calmly. But his experience was that I’d just turned on him. So I sat with that and said, “Show me what it is that I need to realise, what is it that I need to see here?” I realised what was driving me in the communication. I believe that when I speak my truth that people will get angry with me, so when I was speaking to him, even though I believed I was speaking my truth, he got the emotional charge of, “I’m expecting you to be angry,” so I’m already speaking with that barb. Being able to see that and to use the processes that I use with the voice to release that feeling from my body… So it’s, “Where is that feeling in my body? What does it need?” And then giving it a vibration that will give it some comfort and release; that’s the essence of how I work.

And I have this wonderful, aware man in my life. I know he’s explained to you that he uses his bath as a spiritual practice. He got out of his bath one day and said, “I got this message for you, I was in the bath and having my inner experience and there was this thing all about you!” He said that I needed to have some space alone, time to just be and have my own experience. He realised it had to be something that I want. So he shared this with me and he thought it would be really great for me to have some time to myself in nature because it recharges me and I don’t get out there often.

Jess: It’s really hard to get out there sometimes.

Ganga: It is when you’re dealing with the realities of life. It actually took a lot for us to facilitate it, but he said, “I’ll support you and I’ll take care of the children.” He took me out to Blue Pool out at Carrington Falls [in the Southern Highlands, New South Wales]. The entrance was closed off for whatever reason so I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to go in there. But it ended up being an incredible blessing because people didn’t go in there. It was January and it was the full moon. So I went and had this beautiful day’s retreat and really got to have an experience of my soul. I’ve heard people speak about that; an author called Sera Beak talks about embodying your soul. When you’re speaking your truth and you’re really present in your body, it’s really embodied and connected to your soul, that is recognisable even in just the words that you say and how it is received. So when you’re sitting opposite someone and they hear you, they can hear that what you’re saying is true, “I feel that, I know that.” And it’s not an intellectual engagement, it’s just a bodily recognition.

So where is my soul? Does it live in my body, is that possible? What is it that is having this experience of talking about “I” and “I am this” or “I have this” or “I experience this”? What’s the “I” experiencing those things and noticing that separateness from this body about? Is it a meat suit, a space suit that we put over what actually ignites us and gives us life force? So what is that? I’ve connected with spirit externally and have received guidance, so it feels like it’s connected to me, but it feels like it’s another being, it’s another essence. So, what’s mine? What’s my stuff? And I had that experience, could it live in my body? Yes! I had that experience of my soul being present in me and I realise how disconnected I can be from that in daily life. But having experienced that was prompted by a couple of things that I do with others: one with birthing and creating a soul song, so going to meet the soul of the baby and asking it for its song, and also the process that’s in my book, Singing the Silver Circle, that the main character has to go and find her Nerthgan, which is her power song. You can hear my voice is changing as I’m speaking about it, it’s really potent for me, and I haven’t actually spoken about it to anyone. So I wanted to find my soul embodied in my body and I wanted to find a song that expresses that. That was something that came to me on that day.

Jess: So you came to that realisation on the day you were in nature?

Ganga: Yes, because I had the space to ask those questions. We’re privileged living in the west where our needs are taken care of. I had that extra level of it when Anthony took care of everything. So I could just sit and be and listen and have this gift. Anthony gave me his iPod and there was some drumming that he uses in his shamanic healing that we recorded on Echoes of the Goddess, which we had used initially to support women in birthing. So that track is just the drumming part, he said, “I just have a feeling that I need to give this to you.” And I put that on and that drumming put me into the space of receiving that soul song. So for me the journey of my voice is what has connected me to my soul and expressing that. It still wells up in me. It’s such a blessing.

Jess: I was just thinking earlier that you used the expression ‘wounded healer’, and the symbolism of the wounded healer is that we have a lifelong wound that is very difficult to close, so our gift emerges from that wound, and it sounds very much like that’s what happened to you and you’ve only very recently come to see that more clearly.

Ganga: Yes, recently, certainly.

Jess: Thanks very much for sharing that story with me, by the way.

Ganga: That’s a pleasure. That was very recent, that was January this year. Knowing that my voice and my experience around it being a healing instrument, and being able to reveal things to us that need healing, you can be a conduit for the revelation as well. This kind of healing has been something that I’ve been exploring for about 14 years. There’s been lots of experiences like that along the way. And the wounded healer and the understanding of that around my birth came when I was pregnant with my daughter because I asked the question. I asked my Mum about my birth. There were things that I knew from the story that you grow up with, but there were things that I didn’t know, like the 48-hour separation and that was major. There’s been that exploration and being able to share from my own journey feels like its authentic. And inauthentic because it feels like I’ve made it up, it’s like I haven’t taken on someone else’s system that’s been proven to work, or it doesn’t have the scientific studies and data to back it up. But since I’ve been on this journey, I realise that there is a lot of scientific data if I go and research it, there’s a lot that’s been done, even recently, about the benefits of singing.

Jess: Well, music therapy is increasingly being used in hospitals…


Ganga: Yes, well recently I’ve started doing some training with the Arts Health Institute. It came out of the Clown Doctors idea of taking humour into aged care, so that’s where they take music into aged care. So this program is called “Sing Out Loud Together.” It’s taking children from a primary school and matching them with buddies in an aged care facility and they sing together and put on a performance. It’s being used in many ways to open hearts. There’s a lot of evidence that music is a way in for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and those kinds of memory loss conditions. They will remember a lot of songs and poems from their past, particularly from the 17 to 35 years time in their life, it seems to be a place that they can connect with. So singing songs can really bring back their cognitive abilities, it’s quite extraordinary.

Jess: That’s incredible. So on some deep sensory level it becomes embedded into our being. It never really goes?

Ganga: No, it never really goes, it’s still can be accessed. There’s a lot of work that is proving what we’ve known for a long time, so while it feels out there, you can sing your way to health. It seems ridiculous but we’ve got the evidence now that it’s working, for myself and for others. I feel like I can speak about it authentically because it has been my experience and I do use it, I need to remember sometimes to use my own processes [laughs]. Musician heal thyself!

Jess: Oftentimes when you’re a healer or a mother you’re so busy looking after everyone else, you’re focusing on everyone else, and you wake up one day feeling a bit “NQR – not quite right”!

Ganga: NQR, I like that! That’s right, the focus is on everyone else.

Jess: I saw online that you work for Quest for Life as well, is that still happening?

Ganga: Yes, I’ve been there seven years now and Petrea King has always wanted to have singing as part of the program. And when she experienced my approach she thought, “Yes that’s what we need.” It’s about singing for health, approaching people that are terminally ill. I was there last week, Wednesday night; I come in the middle of the program. Petrea has organised that with much insight, “Where is their breakthrough point?” And it helps totally shift the energy. Speaking to people who are terminally ill, and there were three people in the room that had been told, “We don’t know how long you’ve got left”, but you wouldn’t know to look at them. Most of them believe that they were someone who couldn’t sing. When I say, “Were you the one where the choir teacher says you just mime the words?”, there’s always people in the room who have had that experience, and it shuts them down. It’s amazing how energised people look and feel after using their voices. With some of the other programs, where people have had incredible trauma in their lives, you see people walking around and you wonder, “How can you actually be upright after all of the things that have happened to you?” To say to those people, “Sing and it will make you feel better” is ridiculous, but I know that it works. “Hmmm”, humming to myself right now just puts me back in touch with myself.

Jess: So is that the kind of feedback that you get from most of your clients? There must be a pivotal point in most of your sessions, especially the early consults, where something really dramatically shifts in a person and they start to feel connected with their voice. Does that happen time and time again?

Ganga: It does, and it’s quite different. There are different points for each person. Usually within the first three sessions there’s a breakthrough where there is a revelation or a memory that gets shifted or a perspective is transformed.

Jess: I imagine that most people come and have several consultations with you but not all of them go on to become singers. What do they do once they’ve gone through that transformational process?

Ganga: A lot of the time it’s really about having the confidence to express themselves in the world, publicly or in a group. Some will say, “I had to do this presentation in a course I’m training in and I was able to get up and in fact get the whole room to sing, teach them a song.” So that facilitation comes about a lot. For others it will be, “Now that I’ve got this, what will I do with it? Should I record my own music?” Now that technology has changed so much these days people can do that, they can create and record their own music and put it out there themselves, they don’t need the approval of a record company. Or a win on The Voice or The X Factor or Australian Idol, you just do it because you love it.

Jess: Just thinking about voice in general terms, not just about the singing voice but the written voice as well, you’ve recently published a novel, Singing the Silver Circle. I’m about a third of the way through and I’m really enjoying it, it’s the point where Aria goes through the circle after her kids.

Ganga: Well, you would, wouldn’t you? [Laughs.]

Jess: [Laughs.] Yes, you’ve just got to go after your kids! So can you tell me about your writing and your experience of writing?

Ganga: It’s funny that you should say that because it took a long time for my husband to grasp that. He asked, “Why would someone who can sing as beautifully as you do want to write a book?” And you’ve answered that, it’s another aspect of my expression, the written form of the word is as potent, if not more so. I’ve always loved writing and it’s been part of my inspiration and my path, my inner journey. It began as a how-to book about my approach to the voice and the guidance was, “No, this is a novel.” What’s that? I’ve never written a novel! How can I do that? I had done some courses, one locally here with a woman called Lucy Palmer. I did her creative writing course and that was helpful. And then there was that whole journey of creating characters and situations and what would motivate a character. I really was passionate about the fantasy genre, my favourite book ever was The Hobbit, and we have this entire wall of books about spirituality in some form. But so much of that genre is motivated by fear of death and that archetypal good versus evil battle and, in the Lord of the Rings cycle, it’s literal. I wanted to write something that’s not about death and dismemberment. Something about what would motivate a woman. And you hit on that; it would be her children, her family. And what would motivate her to change if she doesn’t even believe in this stuff? She has a very scientific mind, she doesn’t believe she can sing, she wouldn’t even consider singing in her everyday life. Why would she want to embrace any of this fanciful stuff?

Jess: Books can write themselves, it sounds like that’s what happened with you.

Ganga: Yes, and they teach you about yourself. My journey with my work around the voice has been my journey to self, that’s why I called my business “Singing the Self” because I believe it is that journey to know thyself, so that’s what that book is as well, it’s about her journey to herself and what motivates her and to realise and release things that are in the way. It’s interesting because my sister was reading it and she sent me a text message about the book. She thought that I was Aria, and I said, “No, I’m not, I wouldn’t have resisted any of those experiences, I would have dived right in!” [Laughs.]

Jess: You’re not a sceptic.

Ganga: No, Aria’s a lot more sceptical than me in that realm, I love magic, and I love ceremony and the fantastical. Please take me there! So it was quite a journey and I realise that I love to take things in through story, a bit like what you’re doing, you’re hearing people’s stories and what led them there. I have a pile of books beside my bedside; my husband calls it my ‘compost heap’. “Are you going to compost those and just take them in by osmosis, darling?” [Laughs.] A lot of what stops me from reading things like self-help books, where there is a process that comes up, is that you need to do that in order to do the next thing, but until I’ve got time to do that you can’t go on with the book, so it’s frustrating. So I prefer a story has those processes in it, so you can experience them in the moment through someone else’s experience.

Jess: So are you planning to write more novels that all or are you letting it sit for a bit?

Ganga: I think there is more in this character, in this genre, perhaps something like a trilogy, like there often is in the fantasy realm. There have been ideas, but not the impetus to write yet because I’m still sharing this, and developing the processes that you find in the book, and one of those processes is finding your Nerthgan, your soul song. So I want to do that.

Jess: Do you have a soul song?

Ganga: Yes, I do.

Jess: Can you tell me about that soul song? Or is it something you’d like to keep private?

Ganga: It’s the one that came to me the day I did the retreat out at Blue Pool. So that’s come this year. I haven’t sung it to anyone and I don’t know that I will yet, but it’s something that connects me into where I feel my soul lives in my body. So if I’m feeling anxious and stressed, my voice has been how I have managed that, my stress and anxiety, this just takes me straight there, and it’s like, “Oh, I’m home.” And that’s actually the first word in the song it’s [sings], “Home, home.” And there I am, I am home.

Jess: That’s really beautiful.

Ganga: Yes, it drops me into my soul.

Jess: Clearly you’re very comfortable using the word ‘soul’ to describe something, what would you say the soul is?

Ganga: Wow, that’s a big question, I don’t purport to know.

Jess: Neither do I! But I’ll ask you anyway…

Ganga: I have considered that question, knowing that I was going to speak to you and that you may ask me something along those lines. I think I know it more by what it is not. Making a distinction between spirit and those things that are in spirit, and my connection with the divine that I call goddess, which means the feminine experience, and I’ve had experience of communication with it particularly with Quan Yin. She has been very accessible and present and has given really clear messages. It says in her mythology that you call her name and she will respond. And that she is waiting outside the Pearly Gates to facilitate the way through. That sort of communication with spirit and with guidance feels like it doesn’t come from me, it’s from something with a higher knowledge. That’s almost a contradiction then because that higher knowledge is in my soul, it’s like my soul is my conduit that lives in me. I think that’s the easiest way that I can describe that distinction, it resides in me and I can connect with it tangibly in my body. And when I’m disconnected from it I need to get myself back there.

Jess: Through your soul song? That’s the best way of getting back to it?

Ganga: Yes, for me.

Jess: When you’re not connected with it, then I guess you can really feel it? It’s like an itchiness or restlessness?

Ganga: Yes, anxiety in the body.

Jess: I didn’t get to ask at any how you and Anthony met. I’m assuming there’s a story there?

Ganga: There is actually. We were out with friends in Sydney in the Northern Beaches. A friend of mine invited me out, so when we were at The Steyne, a Manly pub. The friend that I was out with and her friend, so three girls, had gone to school with the friend that Anthony was out with. They started chatting and we were like shags on a rock. So I just said to him, “So what do you do?” Being polite. He said, “I’m an architect, but it’s not what I’m passionate about.” I said, “That’s interesting, I’m a teacher, but that’s not what I’m passionate about. So what are you passionate about?” And it was spirituality. And we just clicked and we just got talking about that. Anthony says of The Steyne and about our meeting, “You meet angels in dark places.” So there’s always been willingness between us to do the work that is required to grow.

Jess: That’s beautiful. Thanks so much, Ganga!

* For more information about Ganga Karen Ashworth, please visit

* For more information about Hamish Ta-mé, please visit


Anthony Ashworth


Jessica Raschke


Moss Vale, New South Wales


Hamish Ta-mé


February 17, 2014

Anthony Ashworth

Anthony Ashworth: Sacred spaces and shamanic journeys

Anthony Ashworth’s energy is so much more larger than life that it’s not surprising that he finds it easy to penetrate the walls of everyday reality to clearly see and connect with the spiritual ethers. But it wasn’t always that way. Anthony once steadfastly identified himself as a “humanist rationalist atheist”. Until one day he attended a spiritual camp and his core beliefs experienced a life-changing transformation. Among many things, his key passions are shamanism and sacred spaces. I chatted with Anthony at his home in Moss Vale, which he shares with his wife, Ganga Karen Ashworth, amid his many altars, books, idols and icons, and a gentle breeze.

Jess: I’m having chats with people who, for want of a better term, are living soulful lives. What I mean by ‘soulful’ is how people bring meaning to their lives. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background?

Anthony: I’m an immigrant. My family migrated to Australia from England, but I was born in Zambia in Africa. We moved there when I was three and a half or four. We briefly moved back to England. Both sides of my family had come from England, Ireland and Scotland. We moved to Africa for the mining boom, a bit like the Western Australian one that we have at the moment; there was a big silver gold and copper boom in Africa. My Mum’s dad was an engineer, boilermaker and sheet metal worker, and my Dad’s dad was a journalist, so he worked for the mines’ newspapers. My grandfather built stuff and that’s how they made money in Africa. I have an older sister who was born in England. Dad’s Irish and English and Mum’s English and Scottish, so we’ve got a lot of Celtic stuff mixed up in a bucket.

Jess: How was it living in Africa?

Anthony: It was quite problematic in Africa, my parents were worried about the future so they decided to move to England. We were like the £10 Poms; we were sponsored to come out here. And I think some of my earliest memories are from England. I have been back to Africa since then and I certainly remember the smells, but also my family used to make movie films, so some of my memory is coloured by those. I’m not sure how much is my memory and what are the films. We came out to Australia in 1965. We arrived in Perth on Anzac Day, we were wondering, “What the hell is going on with this thing called Anzac Day?” And my parents had ambitions to move to Brisbane, they had seen a film about Brisbane but we ended up settling in Sydney as we had friends there. I made the Northern Beaches my home from the age of seven until 22. I got kicked out of home because Mum and Dad moved to the country. But I stayed around the Northern Beaches. Most of my life was spent at Killarney Heights and my parents – I’m eternally grateful to them – bought a house that backed onto the bush, thousands of acres of beautiful bush that went out to the harbour. So that was my childhood, hanging out in the bush. We mucked around on bikes and scooters on the roads, but a huge amount of time was spent in the bush. It was very free range; I call it being ‘free range children’. When it was 6 o’clock, it was time to come home for dinner. As long as you were home before dark you could pretty much do anything you wanted all day, outside of school time, of course. So that was a really beautiful childhood. And it’s probably one of the reasons I have landed back in the Southern Highlands; the bush is like the bush I grew up with, sandstone country, and full of Mimi spirits or nature spirits.

Jess: It really resonates with you?

Anthony: Yes, this deep childhood memory makes me feel comfortable. My childhood was sometimes hard for me because I don’t really fit into a box. My parents sent me to a boy’s private Catholic school, St Aloysius, which was somewhat horrendous. I tell my wife about it – I just lived it – and she cries when I tell her how violent it was. We were beaten from the top down, and we beat the hell out of each other as a consequence. We used to get strapped with a leather strap for getting a maths answer wrong. As I said, it was hard for me because I didn’t really fit into a box.

Some people like to define this way of being as being an ‘Indigo Child’, which I do relate to, but basically I’m a bit anti-authoritarian. To have me sit still at a desk for huge slabs of the day didn’t suit my personality. So I somewhat struggled at school. I did okay. I think I must have been half bright because I didn’t do a lot of work but I always managed to just pass comfortably. And it was violent. I landed up with the ‘dags’, the uncool group, so I would be in a lot of conflict with quite a lot of the bigger or older guys, but I would be able to stand up for my friends, and myself, as I was a tough little bulldog.

I was a humanist rationalist by the time I was coming out of high school. For whatever reason I didn’t go through adolescence, I didn’t rebel. My sister rebelled quite strongly, but I was comfortable going out with my parents to restaurants, I went to their parties, I wasn’t a strong cliquey teenager, I suppose. I think I went through adolescence later in my 30s. Basically I adopted my father’s non-belief system, he was a humanist rationalist and an atheist, and so I became a very good humanist rationalist atheist.

I remember one of my mates at high school was studying to be a priest. We got on better than most people because he enjoyed the fact that I had at least taken a stand and had thought about it. So we would be able to drink and discuss our different points of view. In terms of career, I again took on my father’s ways; I became an architect and designer.


Jess: So your father was an architect?

Anthony: Yes, and then I got a degree in interior design. So I wasn’t very studious at school but I spent 10 years after school studying. I went from doing my HSC at school and then I did another year at tech, where I did a lot better. I matriculated, about which my parents were delighted, and then I went to university to study architecture and dropped out after the first year. I was too young and busy enjoying life. So I went to work for my father. I wanted to be an environmental biologist, that’s what I signed up for at uni, but during the Christmas holidays I’d had a huge argument with my Dad, he was getting sick of me basically doing nothing, so he said, “Why don’t you come and work for me? I’ll pay you.” So I did. I don’t know whether it was the right thing to do or not. I blew the environmental biology and decided to study architecture. At the time there was another architectural recession, so I had a job. But I wasn’t quite ready for it, to be honest. So I did architectural drafting, which I excelled at, I found it really easy. Because I have always found it really easy to draw, a bit like my Dad. And when I finished that I was going out with a girl and she was going back to uni to study fashion design. I’d read all the brochures on interior design and I thought, “I’ve just go to do this.” So after that I did another four years, full time.

I finished there, and then I broke up with my girlfriend, which completely broke my heart; that was my first heartbreak. And unfortunately I went into another relationship very quickly. I got married, I was married for nine years, but for a great deal of the latter part of that we were separated because she was doing a Masters degree in Canberra. I had my own business at that point, and as soon as I left college I opened my own interior design business – I don’t know what I was thinking! Dad retired and I took on one or two of his last clients and built that business and was quite happy doing that. It was all corporate staff, but I was happy in my naïve world. My wife tried to get me to this spiritual retreat called Camp Eden. And I’d resisted because I used to smoke cigarettes and you couldn’t smoke when you went there, you couldn’t drink, it was all vegetarian, and I didn’t want to know about all that. In the end I stopped smoking and she wanted me to go to Camp Eden, as she had been there, herself.

Jess: Why did she think you should go there?

Anthony: To fix me, because I was broken [laughs]. Like a lot of women trying to fix their man! She desperately wanted me to go to find myself. I think I was very naïve. I went back to Camp Eden three times in all and I remember being with older, more spiritually mature people. And you go through a process when you get feedback and a lot of people said, “I love your naïveté.” I did not really understand what they meant at the time, I later realised it was a compliment, and it was about me owning my inner child and the exuberant – perhaps naïve – ways that I embrace life and the world. This camp and the experiences I had were a pivotal moment in my life. I went to this retreat centre as a burnt out design executive with my own business. When I got there they said, “Can you let go enough so we can experiment on you for six days?” They told us what to do pretty much 24 hours a day. For example, “You are doing meditation at 10am and you are having a massage at 12pm.” I’d never had a massage, I’d never meditated, I’d never done Tai Chi, I’d never done yoga, none of this stuff. It was all hippie dippy rubbish as far as I was concerned; my opinion of religion and spirituality was that it was a crutch to lean on for people who couldn’t cope with life.

I remember ringing my wife [at the time] and saying, “I was doing Tai Chi this morning and I felt the golden ball of energy. I felt it in my hands!” And she said, “Get out! You! You felt it?” And I said, “Yeah!” It was the beginning of a deep stirring within me.

So I went there and there was very little contact with the outside world, but I remember ringing my wife and saying, “I was doing Tai Chi this morning and I felt the golden ball of energy. I felt it in my hands!” And she said, “Get out! You! You felt it?” And I said, “Yeah!” It was the beginning of a deep stirring within me.

Then the next day I sat down for my first meditation and it was a guided visualisation where this wonderful teacher took us on a journey into some yummy land and it was all birds and flowers. She taught us a basic mantra which was, “I am, I am.” But I did everything right, it seems, I don’t know how, it must have been a past life recollection, but I sat down and took a handle of this spiritual technology. So I was toning, “I am, I am, I am,” and I went off into my own world and I had full-blown spiritual experience. Kundalini rising, a shamanic awakening, a realisation. I didn’t know what it was at the time. The only way I could describe it was that it was like every orgasm I’d ever had bundled into one, it was every drug and substance I’d ever taken. My cells just exploded into orgasmic life and it was the most ecstatic experience. It was extraordinary, and what was really weird was that everyone in the room witnessed what I experienced and were totally awestruck by it. Afterwards I got some counselling from the woman who ran it and she said, “Go and spend a little bit of time on your own, just chill out.” I thought, “What am I going to do with this? This doesn’t fit into who I am, this stuff just doesn’t exist.” So my whole nonbelief system had been swept away in one go and I thought, “Where do I go now with my life?” Because I had really cherished my atheism and my humanist rationalist self and it was all swept away, my old foundations totally eroded, gone.

Jess: It’s very interesting because the spiritual life can happen in two ways. Usually it’s an innate calling where people feel an affinity with all things spirit from a young age. They might not know how to give it a name or how to identify it, but there’s an awareness, whereas in your case it just came on suddenly. That’s another way it can happen.

Anthony: I guess there was an awareness of something ‘other’ with my connection with nature and the bush, which was profound. I came alive when I was in the bush. But I had none of this stuff like what you see around my house, altars and gods and goddesses, because I was raised in a very secular childhood home, there wasn’t any religion and spirituality in my home at all. Having said that, my father is deeply spiritual in the way that he sees the world. So I had no clues around this, it was so foreign to me. In fact I was quite judgemental of all of this sort of stuff [sweeps arms to gesture around his living room filled with spiritual symbols]. So that was a pivotal moment in my life where I changed sides, I started to back the other team.

Jess: It was an extreme change!


Anthony: It was an extreme change and it took me some time to make sense of it. From there I ended up in a yogic tradition for a long time. Around the same time I did some breath work, and that was an extreme experience, as well. So I was obviously very open to all of this sort of stuff, I was easily moved in some way. So then I had to make sense of it. The teacher at the time said, “You might like to go and explore Eastern philosophies from China and India and see what resonates with you.” So I went off and started some Tai Chi but fairly quickly migrated to yoga. And then I found Yoga in Daily Life and a spiritual master. I started doing satsangs, which they were doing in a house in the bush, so I thought, “Spirituality in the bush, this is alright!” I describe myself in those times as a ‘satellite disciple’, I was never really in with the guru, and I really did not surrender myself as such as some do. I was there when the guru was there and I helped out too. As an architect I was often involved in advising on fixing up ashrams using Vastu (ancient Indian feng shui). So how to make sense out of all of that had happened? I was an interior designer and there was this spiritual stuff. So I started asking, “What is it that I want?” I started scuba diving because I love scuba diving, it’s really important to me because it’s such a focused experience. When you’re scuba-diving you can’t be thinking about what’s going on in your life, you are present with the environment and you are focusing on what’s going on, just staying alive, it’s compulsory, forced meditation.

Jess: It’s a bit like rock-climbing, you have to stay focused.

Anthony: Yes! And scuba diving used to juice me up. So I wondered, “What can I do with this, can I do underwater yoga teaching?” [Laughs.] I was resistant to becoming a yoga teacher, because it seems that every second person who has a spiritual awakening wants to become a yoga teacher, in my view. And then I discovered this thing called Vastu Shastra, which is ancient Indian feng shui. Then I went to India to see a whole set of masters on this subject. So my exploration of sacred space began. I travelled a lot with my first wife and we’d been to a lot of wonderful sacred sites.

As I’ve said, I was interested in meditation and yoga, but I never felt good enough. They were all very yin people, it was all very quiet and nice, but I’m loud and I always felt like I was trying to fit myself into that box. But I didn’t quite fit, it was a mismatch, but there was something there that I wanted. It was a spiritual community, there were people who were interested in spiritual technologies and that’s why I hung in there.

So the deeper I went into Vastu and feng shui, the further I went into understanding ceremony and ritual. I used to feel that whenever I was doing something devotional, I got this charge. As soon as I put my hands together I’d feel the spirit and I’d get a charge that just went up like a little mini orgasm. So who wouldn’t do this all the time? It was fantastic! And I would meditate and have quite deep meditation experiences. One night I was meditating with a guy and he had 1000 faces flash across his face, I don’t know if it was past lives, I don’t know what I was seeing. I would have these kinds of experiences, rebirthing experiences, that were very strong. So I got into ritual and ceremony, and progressively as I spent more time with that I began to discover shamanism. That was something that I would really love because it was experiential. That’s probably why I was drawn to the yoga tradition because it was experiential. I wasn’t drawn to traditional religions because they weren’t experiential. I went to a Catholic school and I used to sit in mass and the thing I loved was the singing, I loved singing in mass. But I didn’t get a sense of God or spirituality when I was sitting in a Catholic boys school mass.

Jess: That’s often the case for many people, isn’t it?

Anthony: Yes! Absolutely! So from feng shui rituals and the like I started to study around shamanism, and that has overtaken my life. That’s what I’m most passionate about. And recently, over the last eight years or so, I have really begun to embrace the divine feminine and the whole idea of the Goddess and the sacred feminine. A few years ago I went to a Goddess conference with Ganga. I was one of three men attending and the first ever male presenter and there were hundreds of women.


Jess: I could imagine!

Anthony: But in a lot of my spiritual journey I have been surrounded by women, there aren’t a lot of men who have the time or interest. Of recent times I’ve embraced men’s work, I’ve been to a couple of men’s conferences and held a men’s group here. We had a men’s group going for many years and that broke up and we started a separate more spiritually focused one, I found some really soulful and spiritual men. So that’s been a really beautiful part of my recent journey.

Jess: It sounds like an extraordinary journey. It is taking you in all kinds of directions and to all kinds of places, but there’s something cohesive underpinning all of it.

Anthony: Yes, a bit of a quest there, or my life is a one big spiritual quest and I’m a bit greedy for big spiritual experiences. I’m 53 now, when I was 50 I took myself on a vision quest. Not a particularly long one, it was three days and two nights. I sat naked in the bush and just had water to drink, no food, no tent, no nothing but a frame drum and myself. It was incredible for me. That brought me home to who I am. That was the most soulful experience of my life.

Jess: So, what happened? Can you tell me about that?

Anthony: I had requested prayers on little prayer flags from a bunch of friends and family. I asked them to email them to me or preferably write them down on a piece of paper or cloth, and so I hanged them up on a piece of wool all around me like a prayer cage or circle. I’d been wanting to do a vision quest for about eight years. And I found lots of people and organisations charge thousands of dollars to do them and I couldn’t justify sitting in the bush to have this spiritual experience for thousands of dollars. So in the end I thought turning 50 is a pivotal moment, I can’t put it off any longer. I’ve just got to go and do it. So I found my little spot in the bush. I set up my prayer flags and then I just wept. It was such a release. I don’t know what was going on but I just cried and cried and I was exhausted after it. Then I just sat in Mother Nature and read all my prayers and the things that people said were so beautiful. “I hope you find what you’re really looking for; you’re so special; I hope you have a true vision that enlightens you.” I’m really into this idea of your environment vibrating back to you what you put into it. So here I was in the bush, which was alive with these deep spiritual intentions and it just did something big to me. Then I had a long rest and then I felt I needed to shake, so I did a lot of jumping up and down and shaking on the spot, for probably an hour or more to just shake everything old and unwanted out of my system. At one point I sat down on a blanket and it was getting cold, and then I saw two huge funnel web spider holes in my little two-metre diameter circle. That became quite pertinent to me because I perceived them as tunnels into the underworld. It was a shamanic experience, it was all about facing one’s fears, when you’re frightened. So all of a sudden from being a bravado bloke in the bush it was, “Oh Christ, I’m sleeping with funnel webs!”

Jess: Spiders are meant to symbolise creativity as well, because they can create such beautiful silk and spider webs.

Anthony: They can do, yes. Funnel webs are one of the most ancient spiders in the world, really ancient and primal. They seem to have always been around me. Where I grew up in Killarney Heights there were always funnel web spiders in the pool, and again now in the Highlands many more funnel webs around my home. So what they did was bring up a lot of fear for me. It was getting dark and I was getting frightened. And I thought, “I’m getting frightened and I’m not used to getting frightened, it’s not something I do.” But I was. So I intuitively started to go into a gratitude state, I started to feel really grateful for my home, my family, and eventually to all the people in the train of events who provide all the structure in our society. I even felt grateful for John Howard [who was Australia’s Prime Minister at the time]!

Jess: [Laughs.] That’s a concern!

Anthony: Yes! And this gratitude built up in me. And I also retraced my entire life from as far back as I could remember and I got a series of memories of things that I had completely forgotten about. It took hours, it was a beautiful experience. And when I did this gratitude thing an intense bubble of light went “Zoom!” I could physically feel it go back into the dark forest, literally pushing the fear back, it wouldn’t have mattered what happened, if a funnel web spider came out and sat on me or something like that, because I was in this state of absolute connection with the forest and then everything else. I wasn’t frightened because how can I be frightened of anything when everything is so good and beautiful? And then later on that night I had a vision, I had asked for a vision, I had a big frame drum that I was drumming and I also asked for a song. And I got that vision, in the form of a personal myth, you might say. Which I am not sure if I should or can share with you here, it’s very intimately personal.

Jess: Well, that’s up to you. I’d love to hear it.

Life for me on planet Earth is somewhat of a sojourn, it’s a place to play, it’s a place to enjoy life to embrace the gift of living. Start being grateful for why and how you’re here. Really embrace it, enjoy it.

Anthony: It’s pretty out there. It was a very deep personal myth about … well my yoga master said, “One day, when you’re ready, you will have the courage to ask these core questions, ‘Who am I? Where am I from? And why am I here?’” So I asked those questions and I got answers to them, in a really ‘out there’ kind of way. I thought it might be coming out of my subconscious, but spirit oftentimes speaks in metaphors. It was a metaphor for me, it was a personal myth, it was a story embedded with spiritual truths. And so what I got out of it, rather than what it actually was, is that life for me on planet Earth is somewhat of a sojourn, it’s a place to play, it’s a place to enjoy life to embrace the gift of living. Start being grateful for why and how you’re here. Really embrace it, enjoy it. And then I got this huge almost God-like booming voice saying, “But don’t be acquiescent. Don’t be spiritually lazy. You’ve got to stay on the path, you’ve got to keep working on yourself and working with spirit.” It was basically saying look at where we live, we are living in heaven on earth. That’s the big thing I got out of it. I think I’ve been a lot more authentic since that day.

Part of my spiritual practice is bathing. My bathroom is now a place where I connect with my soul at least once a week. I have a bath somewhere between two and three hours long. I’ll take in candles and incense. I’ll often start by listening to a philosophical lecture because it relaxes me, I’ll have a glass of wine or some herbals or tea. I put massive amounts of bath salts and essential oils into the water. Bath salts relax my muscles, they support my body, and so I become less body conscious. And then I slowly move from ordinary states of being to become ecstatically tranced. I tone and sing, and I play my flute, I become one with the music itself and eventually I go into a completely ecstatic shamanic state and I am able to travel around the universes and I have amazing deep and sometimes really nice experiences. I get insights and messages into how fucked up I may have been, or of the people I’ve got to be clear with or apologise to for being less than or judging of – it’s often toward Ganga – so I’ll take practical things and messages away. It’s the time where I deeply connect with me. I build up vibrations in there. My bathroom’s a pink 1940s room; everything is pink walls floors, tub, basin all soft pink, I call it my ‘bath womb’! I really go back into the primal womb, I go back into a state of innocence, I just have the loveliest time imaginable, it is truly blissful for me.

Jess: So that’s very profound and you do it once a week?

Anthony: About once a week, sometimes twice I week, I start to get very edgy when I don’t do it. The whole family gets it, and knows how important a ritual it is.

Jess: So for income you do feng shui consultations and…

Anthony: Yes, Vastu and feng shui. And I do dowsing, so I go into people’s homes and I dowse for earth energies. I also do space clearing, which is my favourite thing. I go in and remove negative energies from people’s homes. At the far end of the scale it’s ghost busting, which doesn’t happen often. At the softer end it’s just energetic removal of the dross in people’s homes, where they’re full of thoughts or unfulfilled dreams or negative thought forms. So I go in there with a ceremony and in quite a shamanic way. What I do on behalf of the clients is bring my soul into the soul of their home and ask what it needs. It’s done very respectfully, I don’t say, “Energies leave!” I create a beautiful mandala, which is made up of rice, powders and flours. That’s a little model of the universe. So I set that up and I tell the home, “Someone loves you.” I cleanse the four corners of the house and I sing mantras to clear and lift the energy.

Jess: So what kind of feedback do you get from clients after you’ve done a space clearing in a house? Is there a follow-up?

Anthony: Yeah, I get really great positive feedback, but sometimes I’m scared to follow-up, my old wounds come forth, I get scared I’m not real, it’s not real, I feel I don’t want to be exposed as a fraud or for not being helpful, so I sometimes won’t ring up specifically. However, it’s usually that I get feedback anyway. For instance, I had a woman recently ring me up and she said, “My mum recommended you. I’m just about to go into another relationship and I’ve had three relationships. One divorce, one husband died, and I’m about to go into another one.” Apparently there have been two or three couples that have all been divorced in this house. So the neighbours have been telling her to move out of the house, “It’s the divorce house, it’s the relationship death house.” So she got me to come in. I did what I call basic feng shui acupuncture, I go to the key points and change a few things. I gave her a few things to do. I told her to have a party in the house, “You need some joy in this house, the house is sad.” We did a few things and then she called me. She’d rung her mum and she said, “I need someone to come and do some ‘ooga-booga’ on this house.” ‘Ooga-booga’ was the extent of her spiritual language. I could tell that she was very tentative, and it was outside of her world. Most people who do space clearing are a bit wacko like me. They get it. But some people aren’t and it’s usually when they’re in a crisis situation like this that they’ll try it. She did the things that I’d recommended and according to her and her mother, who both rang to thank me, it’s completely changed her life. She says the house now feels beautiful, when her friends came to the party I had recommended they said, “What have you done to this place? It feels so much more, and different!” I put some soul into it, the house was soulless. She hadn’t decorated in a way that reflected her or her soul. She hadn’t or didn’t know how to nurture the house nor herself.


So that’s what I do, I go into people’s homes and bring soul into their home. I’m on a spiritual mission to do that. There’s a lot of cowardice out there where people are too frightened to do what they feel they might like to do, or are called to do, like put a gold Buddha by their door because they’re afraid that people will judge them. I give them permission to do that, which nourishes them into life.

Jess: It permits them to express their soul, to make it visible?

Anthony: Yes. Part of it is working on the house, the other part of it is working on the people who live there. I didn’t understand that in the early years. I was doing effective space clearing, but I didn’t really know why it was working so well. But it was as much about nurturing people and their relationship with the house. For me, having a relationship with your home is the beginning of your deeper relationship and connection with what’s out there in the greater world and universe. Our home is our intimate environment, we’ve got to have a relationship with this space first, and then we can take that deep authentic relationship out there. I think it’s really important and I want to write more about it one day.

Jess: You’ve got an extraordinary body of knowledge and it would be great to get it all down.

Anthony: Well, I’ve been studying for a very long time. But, as you say, how do you make a living out of it? Barely! [Laughs.]

Jess: [Laughs.] Well, it’s what matters to you and it’s what matters to others as well. There’s always a tension there between the spiritual life and the material life.

Anthony: Yes. My archetype is the free spirit, so my work ethic is poor. It always has been. I’ve always lived under a lucky star, I’ve always managed to do well but I’ve never really had to work very hard. I can’t put my nose to the grindstone too long. I can’t work long hours. But I’ve had a lucky life, and I think some of that space allows you to be deeply spiritual. Swamiji used to say, “Householders have chosen the most difficult path.” To purely become an ascetic, to become a monk or a yogi, that’s pretty easy when you can dedicate your life to it, but when you’ve got this balancing act of trying to have kids and a job in a spiritual life, he says that’s a really difficult path.

Jess: I have two little kids under the age of three years, so I try to take my moments where I feel really grateful. I try to do that in each moment, and that’s a spiritual practice in itself so I don’t feel so disconnected from the spiritual life. When I look at them, I think it’s miraculous; it’s really extraordinary that they’re here in the first place. And just watching them take joy in the world or even have tantrums about being in the world. The Buddhists talk about how you can meditate while washing the dishes. It’s all there; you can bring spirituality into the mundane realities. It just requires effort because you can get preoccupied with the fact that the mundane is…

Anthony: … so omnipresent! [Laughs.]

Jess: Exactly!

Anthony: In the ancient and traditional cultures they always allow everybody some opportunity for a retreat. So people who are bound in a family situation, they deserve some retreat every now and again to go off on a Vipassana, a camp or a women’s retreat, at least for a weekend to nurture one’s own space away from the family. Ganga and I have always allowed each other that.

Jess: I read on your website that you do some shamanic journeying to retrieve people’s souls. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Anthony: I started doing it for myself, which was finding pieces of myself that had disassociated, and then doing it for friends and family. And then I realised that this was a spiritual tradition. It’s working with people that have lost a piece of themselves somewhere along the way and may not even know that they have lost something. People in the modern world have lost huge chunks of themselves because of the way that they were raised. Children are taken away from their parents and shoved into school. Just through living a western lifestyle we disassociate little pieces of our soul, they get scattered and left behind and usually because there’s a trauma or a sickness or it’s just too hard. So an example is a child who has been abused, physically, sexually or verbally, you can see when a child just shuts down. They might tolerate that once, twice, three, four times, but eventually they will go, “This is too hard, I can’t cope with this and I’ll put that little piece away.” That sensitive part of them that just can’t cope.

I believe that soul piece gets tucked away and it can be in the underworld, it can be in this middle plane, it can be in outer space, or can be in the upper worlds. I will go into an altered state of consciousness in order to journey, I will take my guides with me, I take a gold crested black cockatoo like that feather with me [points to feather], because it is a symbol for soul retrieval, and I travel around the universe. I find my journeys are really quick; I don’t have to journey for very long. I get to the information fairly quickly. Then I’ll have a dialogue with the soul piece that’s missing, which is often in a child-like form, but not always. Then I coax that soul fragment to come back and be integrated with the person. The soul may protest, it will say, “I don’t want to go back the lady hits me and shouts at me.” So I have to offer an incentive to that soul. “Come back, it will be alright. Your master really loves you. And you are a part of each other, so come home.” You often have to treat the childlike energy childishly. I think all of this happens energetically, I don’t think it’s literal. You often blow the piece back into the person. And then you tell that person the messages you’ve got. And once you’ve done that, I’ll get some metaphor and the person will say, “That reminds me of when this happened.” So we make a contract with that soul fragment. If it comes back then that person will look after it. So I’ll say to the person, “You found a lost part, what are you going to do to nurture it and look after it?” It can bring about radical changes in a person, in the way that they see themselves and in their relationship to the world. I’m not quite sure what to label myself; in my heart I would like to call myself a shaman, that’s still weird to me as others judge that. So I call myself a shamanic practitioner. But really I’m just working on behalf of other people to connect them back in with their soul and with other parallel dimensions, I’m just a messenger as all shamans are.

Jess: That’s fantastic work, thanks so much for sharing your story with me, Anthony.

* For more information about Anthony Ashworth, please visit

* For more information about Hamish Ta-mé, please visit