"Writing is no answer but when you feel deeply there is little else to do." -- James Baker Hall

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

How I Came to Camp Chesterfield

(Or What's a Nice Southern Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?)
When you live in the setting of a potential novel, say a magical and mysterious place like Camp Chesterfield--a place where the Spirits stand so close you can feel their breath on your skin, it's not unusual to be asked a question like, "So how did you get here? And what made you want to live here?" First, let me clarify, I actually like the feel of Spirit close by me, close as the dewy damp autumn fog of today, a palpable coolness that feels like a hug. Some of my favorite times to walk the grounds are when no one else is out--night time or early morning.

But I digress.  I was asked what brought me here.

Well, you see for nearly a decade before I arrived I was writing a novel --and I still haven't finished it-- about my great Aunt Arzelia Ransdall, Daddy's aunt who lived in Kentucky and was a medium. She trained at Camp Chesterfield. Daddy told endless stories about her boarding the train in Louisville and standing on the platform of the final train car in her fox furs, waving dramatically to her husband and children, "Goodbye! Goodbye!" she called, waving a hankie as if she was never coming back. Of course, she didn't need those fox furs. It was May and already getting warm. 

She rode the train all the way to Chesterfield, got off at the train station (where Jazzi's Flower Shop is now and the old depot has fallen down over the last years). She had her steamer trunk hoisted onto a horse-drawn wagon as if she were crossing the Great Plains in search of new prospects and life adventures.. Actually the wagon only pulled Arzelia and her companions about six blocks down the street, through the iron gate into Camp Chesterfield. One of the attending drivers probably carried her trunk into her room in either the Lily Hotel (now gone) or the Sunflower.  

I heard these stories throughout my life. There were many tales of Arzelia's adventures as a medium. I remember stories of, the spirits of her lost children banging their silver spoons on the trays of their high chairs in the kitchen, how the ghosts that visited her seances tipped the tables, and then there were the ones who woke up Arzelia's house guests with messages of hope from beyond the veil. Of course, when you are trying to sleep and not expecting a ghost (as my mother was not--and she had quite a story to tell about her nephew Billy)... well, even a message of hope or an answer to a prayer from beyond was enough to scare the Bejeezus out of anybody.  (Bejeezus is a reverential Southernism, I'm sure.)

Yes, I heard a novel's worth of stories about Camp Chesterfield, and so one deep, snowy January day my husband and I decided for some reason to drive four hours north in the snow. I wanted an adventure and I came to Chesterfield in search of someone who might have heard of my Aunt Arzelia. I'm not even sure what I expected, but at that time the Western Hotel was open and Rev. Mary Beth Hattaway smiled so sweetly at me. "Oh, how wonderful to see you and all of your people!" she said. And even though I wasn't sure what it meant to walk through the hotel door with all of my people then, well, I just felt overjoyed with her very Southern drawl and her smile and twinkling eyes. I exchanged some money for a room with steam heat that was fogging up the windows. 

When I asked where I might find the oldest medium who lived on the grounds and might know of my great aunt, she directed me down the street to an elderly lady of about 97 or so. "Don't be fooled," she advised me. She's still pretty sharp." So I trudged down the Western Avenue to Emma Kruger's house. Yes, she was wonderfully colorful, novel-worthy in fact. I sat and talked with her for about two hours, asking all kinds of questions, such as "How did a nice German lady like yourself come to Chesterfield?" And "Have you always been a medium?"  And other things. She kept trying to give me a reading, telling me about all my people who were standing around me, even though I assured her I had only come to find out about Camp Chesterfield itself and perhaps my aunt's time there.

"And did you live here in the 1950s and 60s?" I asked. "What was it like then?"

She said, "There is someone around you who likes fish.  Do you know someone who likes fish?"

"Maybe," I answered. "I have a lot of Catholic relatives. They eat a lot of fish."

She seemed very nice, not at all put out with me, even though she'd been sitting in her wheelchair for several hours and the television was still rumbling on with some game show in the background. I asked her about her studies there at Chesterfield and what was a platform dress.  I'd heard my Aunt spent a lot of money on her rhinestone dresses, her long white gloves, her shiny black button-up ankle boots. My father was fascinated with my aunt's apparel, for some reason.

"Is there someone around you who likes beer?" Emma asked. "I am sure there is someone around you who just loved his beer. Is it your father?"

"No. My father drank vodka and whisky. My grandfather maybe. He liked his Oertel's 92."

"Me too. I like Oertel's 92," she said.

I'm pretty thick sometimes, but the right question to ask finally hit me like a ton of bricks. "Have you eaten yet today? It's after one o'clock and I've kept you from your lunch."  She said the Meals on Wheels didn't come on Saturdays so she was used to going without lunch. I told her I would go and get her some lunch. "What would you like?"

"A fish sandwich," she said. "And a beer. I'd like a 32-ounce beer," she said. "I've run out and there's none in the refrigerator."

Sure, I said. I'll be right back. And it took about 30 minutes. She ate happily, wheeling herself up to the TV table I found and set in front of her.  Between bites she wanted to tell me about my people, but for some reason if it wasn't about Arzelia, I wasn't interested. Anyway, I hadn't come for a reading.  When I left she was happily sucking on her beer. That was probably not a good thing for me to have left her alone with that beer and other obvious way to dispose of it. I didn't know her daughter didn't like her to have beer.

So I came to Camp Chesterfield to research a novel, to indulge myself in the sensory delights of the past--the sound of a train whistle in the middle of the night, steam pipes knocking, footsteps in the hallway. Wait--! I thought we were the only guests at the hotel! I kept coming back. I started taking classes. I regaled my writing friends in Kentucky with stories of Arzelia and I kept trying to find her factual footprints in the memories of the old mediums and the half-disintegrating hotel registers in the museum.

Finally, I just moved here. I took classes and love it. I developed some really sweet relationships with the people living here, and a few who had passed over, but stayed on in spirit. Some days when the COVID seeps underground and we mediums can return to the platform, you will find me here, standing where my Aunt Arzelia once stood probably. In the meantime, however, I'll be Zooming online to a Message Service near you, or appearing on the roster for the Midwest Mediumship Conference in October. I hope you come to love Camp Chesterfield as much as I have.

And if you've read all the way to the end of this, and you happen to be a publisher, literary agent, or movie producer, I have stories you wouldn't believe. That novel is still open for takers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Earth Day Shivers

I am waiting in the dark
like one ray of sunlight
ready to pop out
from behind this cloud.
I am morning
longing for bird song.

I am trillium
with my two budded
lips pursed
suckling cold dew
from the teat of morning.
I am worry, prayer
a trembling kiss.

I am the chattering
pink teeth mark of redbud
waiting to explode
along the arm of tree.
I am the green hearts
of leaves longing
for perfect light.

In a cold viral world
I cry: Wake me!
For goddess sake,
unmask the glory
the aching craving--
this falling in love
with the earth
burning in light.
--Normandi Ellis

Friday, January 3, 2020

2020 is a Power Year

Did you know Pythagoras--yeah, that ancient Greek guy who was responsible for your having to learn the Pythagorean theorem in high school geometry--spent 30 years tramping up and down the Nile, wandering around lost inside the temples of ancient Egypt, begging the old scribes and priests of Ptah and Thoth to teach him everything, or anything, or whatever they knew about magic, the heka of hieroglyphs and numbers.

That's the source of all our mystical, magical numerology, as well as our geometry and alchemy.  It's a story of secrets and struggle and working against the odds to gain what our heart and mind --nay, our very soul!-- desires.
It's a story fit for a new year--this new year!

Our 2020 is going to be filled with amazing energy.  2+0+2+0 = the Master number 22, which is the foundation of Temple building. Have you been called to build your Temple yet? Do you know how to manifest the desires within yourself as you stand inside your holy of holies, that sacred ground of your spiritual and alchemical constellation?

This planet Earth is undergoing massive changes at the hand of the Divine that has cojoined with our human hands to implement The Great Work. This is the future we've been waiting for. We are entering the wave of the New Age.

Two is the number of partnership, and this year we enter the greatest partnership we can ever imagine, that of partnering with Cosmic Intelligence. Two plus two.  (Isis and Thoth.  You and me.) We stretch out our hands to touch the hands of the divine. That's four hands, folks!  We are linked in a great building partnership. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of love, and a lot of commitment to build this kind of energy to accomplish the Work at hand.

AND that God Force Energy is twice amplified by the repetition of the number Zero, the Ouroboros--the forcefield of creativity from beginning to end, spiraling over on itself, recombining beginning and end. I'd expect a radical re-shifting in your priorities from focus on the material world to amplified visioning in the spiritual world.

Which doesn't mean we will be getting off easy with 2020.  It is the year of the Master Builder. Perhaps you foresee big things in your life. Thoth and Isis, the Ascended Masters, the Daimon, the Angels of Your Higher Nature--call them what you will--are beside you all the way, ready to assist with the building of the staircase that leads to enlightenment. You are ready to set your new life in motion but remember it is a daily re-ignition of the dream that will keep you going. You can achieve whatever you wish, with a bit of angelic help. And a lot of human determination.

Keep lighting candles. Affirm your positive steps daily. Get out your day planner. Do the work. Be grateful you are here on this planet to do the work. It is a gift, an honor to be here, working elbow to elbow with the Gods, Goddesses, Angels, and Ascended Masters. Roll up your sleeves!!!

Let's go.

I have some 2020 news of my own. My new book Hieroglyphic Words of Power: 
 Symbols for Magic, Divination and Dreamwork will be coming out from Bear & Co in May 2020. You can order it here: 


Its writing has been a labor of love for about 10 years, the same amount of time it took to write Awakening Osiris, which began my love affair with hieroglyphs and was published back in 1988. This new book explores why hieroglyphs have entranced  countless Egyptophiles like me throughout the centuries. Symbol and mythology, combined numerology and the pulse of vibration, the music of language... all moving together to create a kaleidoscope of meaning, layer upon layer.  I think you're gonna like it.

There is a deck of cards that can be bought separately to accommodate your interest in using the hieroglyphs in an oracular fashion. I've been doing readings with Egyptian hieroglyphs for about 5 years now. First, I made my own deck of cards, then started meditating with each one of them daily, using them in private readings.  After a while and some work with my guides, I was able to use them clairvoyantly from my public demonstrations at Camp Chesterfield. The book is a result of all those meditations and work.  You can make your own deck, but there is a beautiful ready to go deck called the Oracle of Seshet, which contains the beautiful photographs of hieroglyphs that A. Auset Rohn and I created after a trip through Egypt searching the temples for images that demonstrate the magic of the language. By the way, her photographs appear in the book as well.  And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the handiwork of artist Lexy Hovis also graces the book so that you can draw the hieroglyphs is you like.  If you prefer to order a pre-made set to begin with, go to the bottom of the page here: http://www.thegoddessinside.com/must-have-books

In the early days of working with the hieroglyphs, I teemed up with Jean Houston to do some writing and editing in her book The Passion of Isis and Osiris. That followed the first tour I took in Egypt with her in 1992. For the last five years I have enjoyed traveling around the country teaching my classes in Hieroglyphic Words of Power and giving students the opportunity to learn hieroglyphic oracles by drawing their own cards on slips of papyri.  That's still a wonderful way to do it, but I now have included a deck of the same 60 hieroglyphic oracle cards in HiWoPo. They are called Seshet's Oracle, which can be.

So there's some of my new news.
Interested in studying with me? Contact me at ellisisis@gmail.com.
Stay tuned for more information about my travel plans for Egypt March 2021.