Angell Deer had a successful corporate career before he decided to change course. He trained in Shamanism, Reiki & Medical Reiki, Sufi Healing, Sound Healing, Meditation, Herbalism, and Breathwork and created The Sanctuary in 2015 in Callicoon, New York.
In this interview for MysticMag we asked about that turning point, the work he does with his clients and in the sanctuary and more. Check out below the interview with Angell Deer.
Angell, how did you discover your gift and your will to change your life and enter the present path?
I was in the corporate sector for 20 years and went to different jobs as a CEO and as an entrepreneur. One of my last jobs before making the shift was in a company I started with a friend.
It became very big and successful, but the more success I was having in my career, the less I felt happy. I just didn’t find real fulfillment. Many years before that, I’d already started exploring Spirituality, working with teachers in North and South America, exploring in depth Shamanism, working with plants and in Ancient and Native ways.
Obviously, that was creating the change that I was feeling right on top of probably a deeper accounting that was there forever. At some point, I really had what you’d call a breakdown.
I just really stopped everything I was doing and left everything and went on the quest for my life, a vision for my life. In that process, I discovered something that was truer, I guess, and more aligned with what I was supposed to do in this life.
Did you have some family influence or was it something you explored out of your curiosity?
No, a lot of people I knew at the time, such as workmates, friends and relatives were worried and didn’t really understand why I was doing that and where I was going with it.
I don’t know where I was going with it, by the way! I just knew that, where I was, was not working. People were a little bit scared by the change they were witnessing. But, within a few years, people around me that knew me well started to see that I was doing better emotionally: I was happier, smiling, more relaxed, more open.
My grandfather was a businessman, but he was also a traditional healer. He passed away a few years ago, but I’ve always been very close to him and very connected to that part of him. There has been a lineage of healers on the male side of my family. Every two generations, we had a healer and I always felt that somehow that might come for me. Some kind of tradition, even if it was not really something on the side for my grandfather.
People knew he could do some things and would come for that. It was never his full-time work nor how he’d present himself. If you didn’t know about it, you would have never guessed it.
How do you know what to use from your diverse knowledge base and experience to help a specific client?
For me, it’s mainly guided by Spirit. So, when people reach out to me, I spend time just sitting with it and feeling into what they’re saying to me. Very often, I ask a few more questions, just to get a sense and sometimes I recommend people to contact people that offer things that’d be better for them. But if I feel this is someone I can really help, then the person is going to come and have a longer discussion and inquiry process.
Then, based on what I’m receiving and feeling, I’m going to propose one modality that I feel based on my experience and what I’m hearing that I think would work best with what people have.
Some people come with trauma from being sexually or emotionally abused when they were little, some people come with disease like cancer, some other come with depression and addictions. So, the modality depends on what people are experiencing, because there are some things that will work really well with addiction or with depression, but might not work with cancer, for example, and vice-versa.
Would you share with us a specific issue, concern or problem that people bring to you?
A lot is about trauma from people that have been abused. Also, a lot is about being lost in life: not having a purpose, which is often connected to depression. That’s often connected with trauma and addictions.
Very often when we have pain and we don’t know how to go about it, we use drugs or alcohol or other things to numb the pain. So, these are two big areas, but I think it’s also a reflection of what people are experiencing today.
COVID has increased those feelings and behaviors, since people have been at home a lot and have been disconnected from others. They might have lost their jobs. Our society also feels very unsafe for many people. Things are not very clear, we don’t know what the future looks like. People might be concerned about climate or about their health, about money or politics. There’s a lot that can basically make us feel unwell.
I think that’s really important to acknowledge what’s happening in our system and community. Because most people feel like they should feel good. But if you feel grief or anger and depression and don’t want to connect with the world, there might be a reason in the world for that, and that’s not just a person’s feelings.
People are also questioning a lot about what kind of life they want to have. One of the main things they do about that is to just try to make as much money as they can, so they can escape at some point or take something like antidepressants or things like that, because they get too overwhelmed and can’t basically function properly without medications.
Can you please present us your sanctuary? How does the retreat work? How did you create that structure?
We are based upstate New York, two hours from New York city. We’re located on seven acres of land that is mainly forest. There’s five acres of forest within the Catskill state parks. There’s a lot of little mountains, forests, rivers and lakes.
We started here 7 or 8 years ago already opening it that way. We see people individually and, as a group for healing, we do a lot of retreats, bringing in elders, people with other modalities to offer ceremonies, prayers, time of connection and healing.
We also do a lot of the program online. We have a Shamanic school where we teach those old ways to people, including Shamanism and Shaman Reiki, and also breathwork. Many things in our school are online now because our audience is quite broad now in the US and in other countries, but some things are in-person.
What advice can you give to someone feeling overwhelmed with work, studies, family, struggling with stress and anxiety?
Firstly, there’s no need to criticize, blame or shame ourselves for feeling overwhelmed by the world right now. That’s one aspect of it.
Another aspect of it often is that people are not aligned with a purpose. They don’t know what life is about or what their life is about, and they’ve often been stuck. Sometimes they’re very successful, but very often they’re not where they should be.
The pain, the overwhelming, the hopelessness we experience is that distance between who we truly are and where we are. The further away we are from our truth, the more we’re going to expand those symptoms of anxiety and depression.
We have to look at our body and ask why we are feeling it: What is it in my life that makes me feel when I wake up in the morning that I’m not in the right place? That I’m not happy?
Sometimes we are overwhelmed because we overwork or we don’t sleep enough. But when it’s something that’s chronic and that’s been here for a long time, very often it’s because there’s something else that’s calling us.
I believe that the goal of life is to inquire about our purpose. Sometimes you can align yourself slowly, step by step, not doing quite a complete change overnight, like I did. But make sure that every step you take is bringing you closer, not further away from purpose. Very often, that’s why we need support from people that can help, guide and support us and our own process.