Janet McGuigan knew at age 4 that there was more to existence than what she could see.
She could see the physical universe perfectly through her dark eyes, recalls McGuigan, who lectured Wednesday in Annapolis. But she could see another realm, too, a spiritual world opened to her by her Iroquois grandmother.
"Everything in life is sacred. Everything is made of a creative force which is pure love energy," says the 54-year-old.
McGuigan spoke about this creative force at the Annapolis library as part of a monthly series sponsored by the Annapolis Holistic Health Center.
She is a nurse, an ordained non-denominational minister and a shaman, an American Indian priest who uses magic for healing the sick.
McGuigan has taught something she calls "healing touch" in
40 states,helping medical professionals become "channels to help people in their healing process, to open up and let Creator work through them."
She describes the process as a "sensitivity to energy", allowing love from inside her to help heal.
"I have seen more healing in traditional ways, working with energy, than in my nursing career," she says.
McGuigan earned her nursing degree from Union Memorial Hospitalin Baltimore and works as a part-time nurse in city hospitals. She'salso worked as a nurse counselor.
She does not advocate one method over another, McGuigan emphasizes; Western medicine teaches us muchabout how the physical body works.
"But (with American Indian medicine) I have watched bones heal in 10 minutes, cancers heal. While Western medicine is relatively recent, American native medicine is 30,000 years old."
Some of the lore is common sense, she says, such as using the natural aspirin found in the inner part of the willow branch. "It's a natural aspirin, without the side effects of manufactured aspirin."
Or beach-goers who encounter jellyfish can turn to what's right there -- sand -- as an antidote for the sting.
"Mother Earth has an antidote for everything," she says.
McGuigan's lessonsin Indian healing began as a child, journeysshe describes as both literal and metaphysical when the "grandmothers" -- or her Indian ancestors -- took her into their lodge and "the eagles came and got me."
"Much of what I know has been taken across the winds and taught by the grandmothers. It's called wind walking," she says.
Her Indian name is Soaring Eagle, and in her Baltimore home, McGuigan surrounds herself with statues of eagles, pictures of eagles, feathers on the wall. A carved eagle made of Elk horn hangs about her neck, the handiwork of an Iroquois clan carver.
In addition to the Iroquois training from her grandmother, McGuigan learned from her father, who spent summers on the Rosebud reservation of the Sioux Indians in the Dakotas.
From that heritage, she learned more dimensions of the universe. "When it comes to healing, I say I'm not a healer," she insists. "Iwill channel, but the Creator is the only healer."
While she has studied traditional religions, McGuigan doesn't think the Creator force is a personal God; rather, she believes everything is one, from plant life to animals to human beings.
She's now working on two books, one about healing touch and the other about her experiences as a child, experiencing visions and mystical "journeys."
During her lecture, McGuigan talked about sacred paths, working with one's life's journey in a way that honors life.
"Everything is sacred. When people begin to own that they are sacred, then they're going to be more positive within their own nature, and treat life more creatively," she says.
She encounters many skeptics, but says she doesn't mind.
"I don't care who proves what," McGuigan says. "I know what I know, and am willing to share that. My life's journey is to walk a spiritualpath, and I do that."