In this series, I talk with witches from walks of different walks of life about who they are, their spiritual practices and what advice they would give to aspiring young people. Today I'm talking with Chaya Gratto, a local practitioner from my area who's crossed my paths in wyrd and wonderful ways lately...
Hello and welcome Chaya! Thank you for agreeing to chat with me today. To begin with, could you please introduce yourself and what you do, for my readers?
Of course! My name is Chaya Gratto and I am a Shamanic Energy Healer and Spirit Walker. And a Mama of five kids! So basically, I'm Superwoman.
It sounds like it! I do what I do while only juggling four-legged children, I can't imagine how hard it is when the distractions can talk back!
How do you define "Shamanic Energy Healing"?
Well that is a great question, isn't it? Because it is truly so unique to each practitioner. In most cases, you don't choose to work with spirit helpers - they choose to work with you and HOW. My foundation in energy work is Jikiden Reiki. But once I recognized that the Spirit world was working with me, I started on the shamanic path. Each shamanic practitioner will have their specialty - for some it is drum medicine or sound healing. For me, it is Spirit Walking. Over the past two years, I have decided that "shamanic energy healing" is the best way to describe my fusion work.
It sounds like a very good thing that you're doing, and in fact your name is one that more than one person in the community has mentioned to me when I've brought up my own faith.
My mandate is to facilitate a SHIFT for my clients… either by helping them identify an energetic block in their emotional or physical body, release a past life trauma or heal from grief. I use various means to do this; sound healing/medicine singing, card reading, energy work & mediumship. I also work with plant medicine & crystals.
I identify as a polytheist, and it does sound like there's some overlap there between it and "spirit walking" - would you agree?
Absolutely. And just like energy work, I also believe spirituality is very much crafted by the individual themselves. Discovery of what resonates and fills your cup! I would be hard pressed to put myself in a box of just one belief system… I am coming from shamanism, I'm a hedge witch, I bring Buddhism & Taoism into my personal practice and I was raised in the Anglican church. A melting pot and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'm the same - I find it hard to define myself as a "witch" because no one word works. But I know I have magic in my veins. "Jumping the hedge" is walking in the spirit world. I am reclaiming this one! Had a "witch wound" for a loooong time. Coming from our patriarchal/religion-based society and also from past lives that I've been able to tap into. It felt like a dirty word and even when you referenced your own witchiness, I picked up on the discomfort that we ALL feel because of these global/ancestral wounds! But a hedge witch is what I most closely identify with and that's because I am a channel between this world and the Spirit world.
I’ve done a little bit of astral travel, but I’m more experienced with doing spirit work through dreams. It’s one way that Odin sometimes communicates with me.
Hedge witches, like most witches, are very earth-based & shamanic in their practice. They are the astral travellers (I am also a dream walker so don't be shocked if you see me one night!), often healers and work closely/are drawn to the Winged Ones. My main guide is a Barn Owl. They are also solitary creatures. Part of that name, too, comes from the fact that most of the original line would have lived "past the hedge" and away from the rest of the community. Ohhhh, that sounds like MY type of living! I'm on record saying more than once that if I could disappear off the edge of the world with a broad-rimmed hat and become a wanderer, I'd be on the road already... Amazing! I have not worked with Odin but Freya came to me before I even knew who she was.
What got you started on this path? What inspired you?
Wow, there are many layers to that question. Honestly, I was very connected from the time I was a young child. I spent my entire day in the woods, I saw ghosts, I dreamed of past lives, I had mystical experiences involving Angels & UFOs. I knew things & often, predicted deaths. I was affectionately known as the "witchy woman" or "old soul" among my closest friends. But I was also scared of what people would think, I worked hard to fit in. So I shut it down several times. I actually just had this conversation with another shamanic practitioner yesterday. I can look back on my life and see 4 distinct times that I was being called to step into my purpose but I wasn't ready. All 4 times were "awakenings" where I left relationships, left jobs, moved across the country. But because I pushed it down, all 4 times also resulted in clinical depressions & medical emergencies requiring surgeries!
This most recent call was catalyzed when I lost one of my best friend's to cancer. She named me as guardian of her two young boys. With the house totalling 5 kids, I knew I could not go back to my corporate job & travel for 6 weeks at a time. I created space for the answer to come & sure enough, I was led back to energy healing. I had actually done my Level 1 Reiki at the last awakening but abandoned it, due to lack of belief in myself.
So I started with Reiki in late 2018 & Spirit world decided the rest, lol. There was no longer an option to say "No" or not be ready. I have been dragged and after a point, it just got easier to surrender to it. This is what I am here to do.
It sounds like the universe is glad you found that faith in yourself - I'm sure you're an excellent Mama as well as an excellent spiritworker. I'm also very sorry for your loss. I had seen that on your website, and having lost family to cancer in recent years I can understand the pain.
Does your practice play into your everyday life, as well as your career?
Thank you! And to answer your question, YES. Walking this path, you do not have an off/on switch. It is a lifestyle and your practice is woven into every moment of your day, like a warm comforting quilt! What is a day in the life of a spirit walker, to you? As soon as I wake, I do an energy scan of my own body so that I can make sure I am staying as a "hollow bone" or a clear channel for my clients. I say prayers & smudge at my altar space. I am driven to get outside as soon as I can (which is usually while coffee is perking!) I take 1-2 clients most days and in between sessions, I am fielding inquiries that run the gamut from past life questions, to interpreting animal messages & dreams.
When I don't have a client booked, I am working with my OWN Spirit Guides & ancestors to receive messages that I need and also balancing coursework as I am currently doing a year long shamanic apprenticeship. I spend a lot of time in the forest or at the beach. I build ceremonies around the moons and do ritual work. I am constantly evaluating what I'm eating, if I should be scheduling naps or if I'm getting enough physical activity because my body & spirit have to be in optimal condition to hold space for others.
I am writing a book! I share profound experiences with my kids so that they may find the wonder in the world. I include them in ritual work in the woods, offer monthly sage smudges of their rooms and teach them about plant spirits as we are picking fresh leaves for tea! It has paid off and now ALL of them have connected to pieces of the journey. My oldest finds dimes & shares his lucid dreams. My daughter makes flower teas & notices synchronicity on the clock. My middle two now take photos of Eagles and buy me gifts like arrow earrings. My 4 year old sees & feels Spirit and talks to all Nature. That will be my legacy.
It sounds like a good family experience; the kind of community we need in times like these.
Also, I would love to hear more about your book! I wasn’t aware you were working on one.
Yes, I so pray that SCHOOL goes in so that I can get back to it! LOL This book is writing itself--when I sit down to write, be it stories or poems or a post, it is usually channeled writing. Which I feel you will relate to. So far, it is two stories in one but the publisher who was interested in it, feels it would be best to separate it. I'm not sure but I'm open to see what happens. Right now, each chapter is comprised of two parts: a glimpse into each step along my path, beginning with when my friend passed and offset by a personal spirit story that would have happened around the same time. It's actually quite profound and of course, cathartic, for me to actually sit down and chronicle it all. It is a beautiful unfolding and absolutely by design. The working title is "When Spirit Sang Me Home"
I also do channeled writing, mostly poetry pieces. My fiction is definitely not spiritual, but since I started writing a story about a 12th century Norse heathen woman before I became a polytheist, that's ostensibly not quite true…
I don't feel there can be a separation, you know? I knew you did, that's why I said "you will relate".
So true! You mentioned school coming back - has the pandemic affected your path much?
Only that it's made me BUSIER with clients!
Falling into this work when I did, perfectly positioned me to be a guiding light during this unprecedented time. People that don't have anchored spiritual practices or who have relied on the busy-ness of life to avoid looking at their own "stuff", found that they lost their footing during the Covid-19 crisis. I am grateful to be able to be that port for many and that I have a platform to share my personal belief that we are in a PLANETARY awakening! Woohoo! It is never my goal to tell someone how to interpret events but if I can help you find meaning by offering my perspective, I am happy to do so. And I am also incredibly lucky that the work I do lends itself to working remotely. I did not stop for 5 seconds. I have continued to work remotely and just went to a 3 month wait list because the need is definitely there.
I get the feeling like a lot of people are seeking spiritual reassurance where they might not have felt they needed it before. And some astrologers that I've spoken with recently definitely agree with you about the alignment of the planets.
Listen, I was writing about 2021 in my journal when I was 10. I've been waiting!
Clearly! I'm glad you've been able to find something positive in all this madness.
I'd like to thank you for this fascinating talk we've had today, but before we finish up I had one final question.
Of course! It is SO NICE to be invited to talk about this! I have spent far too much time with family members or friends who DON'T want to talk about it or don't know how to hear it. This is a gift. Thank you.
What advice you would give to someone who was just starting out on a spiritual path such as yours? Where would you say they should begin, and are there any books you would recommend?
Ooh, LOVE this question! Here is my advice...if I had to name just ONE thing that could shift you into awareness or a deeper spiritual connection (whatever that is for you), it would be MEDITATION. Hands down. Start small, with even just 5 minutes. If you can work up to 30 minutes, most days of the week, it will change your life. Not only, spiritually & emotionally but physically! Better than any vitamin for your immune system. That's number one.
Secondly, learn the art of surrender. Often, we won't start a journey or continue with it because we can't see beyond the horizon. It is scary to not know and for others, it's just plain frustrating to not know. Be ok with the "not knowing".
Working with the Spirit world is reciprocal - just like any relationship here on the earthly plane. Many clients will say to me, "I never get a dime from my loved one!" To which I reply, "And when was the last time you asked out loud? Or remembered their birthday with a piece of cake?" We can't just expect to be receivers; it's a give and take. And the more you give to Spirit, the more you will get back. I have learned this and now I just walk around with my jaw on the ground most days. Mind. Blown.
As for books, I can only share a few that really were teachers for me; but they may not appeal to everyone. In no particular order: "Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes; "The Norse Shaman" by Evelyn C. Rysdyk; "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho; "The Endless Practice" by Mark Nepo; "The Gift of Shamanism" by Itzhak Beery; "Sacred Contracts" by Carolyn Myss & "The Surrender Experiment" by Michael A. Singer. And "Your Body Speaks Your Mind" by Deb Shapiro is a constant reference book for me.
Ooh! Rysdyk's book is on my wishlist, actually. Good to know it comes recommended.
Thank you again for our chat, and I hope you have an excellent evening.
You are so welcome! Thank YOU for inviting me to share my passion and thank you for holding space on your blog to explore the great mysteries! (As soon as I finish my current book, I will be diving into the one you gave me!)
Chaya is an Alchemist Archetype whose passion it is to help guide others through profound inner growth. This transformation is facilitated through tailored healing sessions that draw on energy medicine, soul mapping and grief healing—all supported through intuition and spirit connection.
Find her online at facebook or on her website, where she also takes bookings for Shamanic Reiki and Oracle card and Spirit readings.