A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher BeInkandescent: July 2022 — What an honor it is to introduce you to Rev. Barbara Thorngren. I met this truly amazing woman in 2016 when we were studying for our 200-hour Kundalini Yoga teacher training. In the years since, Barbara has not only gone on to be a Reverend and teacher of Reiki (Levels 1, 2, and Master), she is working internationally to bring health and healing to millions worldwide. Animals, too! One of Barbara’s superpowers is her ability to communicate with the creatures roaming her Farm — she helps animal lovers everywhere do the same. Peace, she explains, is at the center of everything she does. Please scroll down to learn more about Barbara and the magic she brings to the world. And stay tuned for more in her column on BeInkandescent magazine, Notes from the Farm!
Notes from the Farm: Barbara Thorngren shares with us Sermons on Peace, Reiki for Animals and People, Nature Art, and Love from PeaceWorks New Hampshire
Hope: Tell us what inspired you to get into the peace business?
Barbara: Like many, my childhood was filled with challenges. I found peace outside my house in nature and with animals from an early age. We needed no conversation or explanation; being in each other’s presence was peaceful. I became a reader by reading books in the trees. My two favorite books were Black Beauty and Florence Nightingale!
Much to my mother’s horror, I often brought home stray or injured animals that needed help. These beloved pets included field mice, an injured baby wild rabbit, a baby crow, a squirrel, a stray dog, and a horse on his way to the slaughterhouse. I found peace in working to heal these little creatures, and not realizing it at the time, they helped heal me by trusting me. Together we created a healing bond through trust, patients, and love.
Hope: You also shared that deep love with people, and out of college, you went on to become a nurse, a volunteer firefighter, and EMT. What did you learn from these experiences?
Barbara: As an extension of healing with the animals, I was comfortable helping friends who were cut or injured. When I was 14, I was with a group of friends, and we snuck out at night and went swimming in a wild pond. My friend Mandy cut her foot badly. When we returned to the house where we were staying, I washed out her cut and carefully put it together with pieces of tape and a big bandage. In the morning, when we finally decided to confess to our chaperones that we had been out swimming without permission and Mandy got hurt, she was instantly taken to the doctor. I was then told that the doctor was impressed with the nurse who did the bandaging. At that moment, I knew what I would do with my life!
Hope: You studied in England and worked there before returning to the US, where you were born.
Barbara: Yes, I was a nurse for years and worked in several departments. But I felt that the emergency room was where I felt I did my best work. Recognizing how disorienting and distressing it was for people involved in accidents or suffering from an illness, I was grateful to be in a place to help. I also thrived in the collective of a trained group of people working on behalf of others. Most of the time, our patients never knew our names, but they knew how we helped them feel. Sometimes they died. I saw that a kind gesture or a few words of support significantly impacted another person’s life. In that space, I learned how fragile and fleeting life can be and how everything can change in a moment.
Hope: You didn’t stay working as a nurse, though.
Barbara: Right. Because helping others is my calling, I decided to pursue a career in health education to promote self-care and encourage people to look after their bodies to reduce chronic disease. Through education and awareness campaigns, I witnessed how the country successfully shifted from smoking everywhere to smoking almost nowhere. It took grassroots campaigns, political action, and connection with the CDC to provide statistical information to create programs like freedom from smoking workshops. I witnessed the horrors of the AIDS crisis and the lack of will to solve that epidemic.
Barbara: As I transitioned into the world of education, I could see the potential for promoting positive changes in the world through building healthy relationships with ourselves and each other. I knew the practice of Reiki was powerful, and I wanted to learn all about it. But there were no teachers in my area in New Hampshire. I finally found a Reiki Master, and in 1994 I was trained in Usui Reiki Level I and Level II. In 2005 I became a Reiki Master. I felt blessed to have had the opportunity to use this healing energy with my family and on the Farm with my horses, chickens, goats, ducks, cats, and farm dogs. Sometimes I used Reiki to help heal a sick or injured chicken or ease my beloved pets’ passing. I still use Reiki in the garden when planting and watering, especially when the garden is young. And there are many times when I am simply sharing Reiki with my beloved animals, and I feel they are sharing Reiki energy with me. I enjoyed reading about others in the ICRT magazines, especially the articles about offering Reiki to Animals.
Hope: You also have spent much of your career as a teacher. Tell us about the traumatic experience that encouraged you to move toward this work.
Barbara: I worked in elementary, middle, high school, and college education systems, always integrating peace education at the local and global levels. Although I loved working in education, I missed my work in the ER. On a chilly day one January, while in the car with my husband and son, we were hit by another car head-on. The woman who hit us died at the scene, and it took the EMTs and firefighters more than an hour to cut us out of our car. Throughout our long recovery, both physical and emotional, I invited the Reiki energy to be part of our healing. For years, I also felt spiritually connected to the young woman who died at the scene.
We learned that most EMTs and firefighters who arrived on the scene to help us during our time of crisis were volunteers. Once we recovered fully, we joined our small town’s local EMT/Firefighter unit. Responding to others for many years was an excellent opportunity to give back to our community. Our son joined us as an EMT/Firefighter and, after high school, joined the United States Coast Guard.
Through many more of life’s joys and sorrows, I learned to practice Reiki on myself and others for the highest healing good. In the first letter from my son after he entered Boot Camp, he described how he used Reiki to help him get through the tough endless days of physical training.
Hope: There are so many ways Reiki has helped enhance and contribute to the healing in your life. Share some of those experiences with our readers, please.
Barbara: In 2013, I learned about another program started by William Rand called Holy Fire Reiki. I became a Usui Holy Fire Reiki III Master with a World Peace update.
My husband was also a Reiki Master. When he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lung cancer later that year, Reiki became part of his healing regime, and I also used it to help keep me centered and grounded through three difficult years. Since my husband’s death, it has become increasingly clear that I want to offer more spiritual support to others, especially widows. I am also part of the support group Widows with Wings, which was born when a wonderful group of women came together to support each other after losing their spouses.
During the years that followed, I worked tirelessly on transforming our working farm into a simple homestead and Healing Arts Barn Studio I call Avalon, where I offer healing sessions with Reiki and the Expressive Arts, a powerful combination. Blessed with the Holy Fire Reiki upgrade and the ability to provide Reiki from a distance and over Zoom during the height of covid, I was able to continue working locally and globally.
Hope: In 2021, you became an Ordained Minister. What inspired you to expand your work this way?
Barbara: In 2021, I graduated from One Spirit Seminary and began to offer Reiki classes to fellow ministers. I participated in the pilot ICRT Animal Reiki Master class. I was delighted to teach Animal Reiki classes devoted to animals with a glorious Tree of a Life crystal grid. My ministry is outside in nature with my farm animals and our beloved domestic animals. I invite everyone to attend one of our online Sermons from the Farm. Click here to learn more.
Hope: You practice an Earth-based spirituality, which you believe is mutually supportive of Reiki. And, you do it in your Yurt!
Barbara: Yes, and I could not be more thrilled to be the proud owner of an authentic 22-foot Mongolian Yurt. She sits at the end of the field, nestled under the trees. In this space, I offer Reiki meditations during training and individual sessions focusing on spiritual guidance for those seeking spiritual support on their life journey. I have tremendous respect for the ancient traditions of our magical space, a beautiful home base that I call PeaceWorks Avalon. Small retreats and women’s gatherings have blessed the land here.
Hope: We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the powerful work you do in the lineage of the Circle Way. Tell us about that powerful practice.
Barbara: Oh, I love the Circle Process! Indeed, most gatherings at Avalon happen using the approach where members of the circle are invited to ask for what they need and offer what they can for the greatest good of all. Everyone is seen, and everyone is heard. As it should be. Everywhere.