Spirits, telepathy, and talking to the dead: An interview with a local medium

by Patty Templeton

“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” said William Shakespeare through Hamlet. The world is wide, the universe deep, and the expanse of profound energy and experience therein is infinite. Who’s to say that the human experience ends at death? Durango medium Trena Kirkland, of The Healing Tree, believes that life goes on. Why? Because she spends her days talking to the dead.

Kirkland is booked eight weeks in advance and advertises only by word of mouth. (We heard of her from a friend of a friend.) She works in white light and uses her channeling ability to bring good into peoples’ lives.

DGO spoke to Kirkland to find out what her abilities are and what the life of a medium is like.

How would you describe your ability? I refer to myself as a medium. I can speak to your loved ones on the other side. I read tarot and animal medicine tarot. I read some stones as well.

A reading with me consists of you pulling three stones and I ground you. I channel through Earth energy and that helps me separate me from you. I automatic write and pull tarot cards, but mainly I use the cards to help communicate the messages from your loved ones on the other side.

How would you describe the energy and information you receive?I channel light energy. Every bit of information that comes through to me is from a divine source, for the highest good for all involved … I think it is all about centering yourself and manifesting for the highest good. There is no dark energy that comes through for me. I can’t even see in those directions.

When did you first notice that you had an extra sense?Day one. Me being 6 months old, communicating with some pigs we had on the farm that I grew up with. My next memory is at 8 months old, a horse that my dad had, her name was Lady T.

My dad is primarily my guide on the other side. I lost my dad when I was 19. He is my strongest spirit guide. He always stands with me when I do readings and brings people over. I use his energy a lot. He taught me a lot about being able to communicate with animals.

How do you communicate with animals? It’s very telepathic. It’s like, if you’ve ever had a best friend, the way they look, their body language, their tone of voice, and even how they sleep – you understand what is going on with them. I believe all of us are empathic and telepathic. It’s not so much hearing the voice as (it is) a knowing.

For example, I did a reading on a horse. A lady had moved her horse to a different barn. She’s never had problems with the horse before and now the horse never wanted to go to the new barn and get fed. She was running away. I went and communicated with the horse and what the horse was showing me is people being rough with their horses. There was an image that I saw. I communicated it with the lady and she then observed the other riders in and around the barn and realized they were quite heavy-handed with horses. Her horse was so sensitive and telepathic about what was happening and then we were able to move the horse … Sometimes telepathy can come in pictures, at least with animal communication.

How do people react to your profession/abilities?My father taught me very young to be careful who I talk to. When I was little, I had more of a vision of a spirit that would follow people around. Say, if you lost your mother or a sibling, I would see those things and say it out loud and it would scare people. My dad taught me from a young age to not tell people unless it was absolutely necessary.

In my later teens, prior to college, I felt the need to say something to people. The spirits do have messages. Sometimes people live in grief and regret or fear or anxiety about their loved ones on the other side. I can feel that connection, I’m very empathic that way. Later, I learned to allow myself to be OK to use my gift.

I’ve had a few people in disbelief, but you either connect with the message or you don’t. I’m not a party favor and I say things to help. If it doesn’t help, I don’t talk about it. I don’t advertise it, ever. It’s all word of mouth. One of the reasons why I don’t advertise is that I’m booked eight weeks out. It’s a long list and I’m very grateful. Just like my dad told me, the universe will send me people that I’m supposed to help in some way. He always used to say that the gift was on loan. I was given a gift so I could use it.

Is there an on/off button to your ability? Is it overwhelming? The older I’ve gotten, the easier it has gotten. It was very confusing at times, as a child, around the 7- to 8-year age up through my mid-teens. I had a hard time dealing with people so I hung out on my farm. I grew up on a farm and I have a farm now and that is my center.

I will tell you one thing, grocery stores are hard. Hard to shut it on and off.

What is your daily work life like? I pretty much work five days a week, 10 to 6. I do a multitude of things in my business. Reading is about 60 percent of it. I’m also a licensed neuromuscular therapist. I work on people that are pre- and post-surgery. That’s another part of the business. I’m also a doula and a childbirth educator. I help women in labor and deliver babies. I don’t do any of the medical, I’m just the coach. That’s a really fun aspect. I so love it because I think, for lack of a better phrase, speaking to the dead most of the day, I like bringing life back in it.

When I’m not working and riding my horses and dealing with my farm, I’m helping my kid get into college.

What’s the biggest burden in dealing with this gift? I’ll tell ya, when parents come in and they want to speak with their children who have crossed over. That seems to be what I’m doing quite a bit of. I never know who is coming in. When you call and make an appointment, I don’t ask any questions. I just get your name and your telephone number and you show up. The readings are about an hour and a half to two hours long. It’s a lot of information that comes through. I usually have people record it. I think that the burden, and I don’t know until it happens, until the spirit comes through, that someone has lost their child to, you name it, car accident, suicide, whatever it is. Those are really hard. It takes a minute for me to clean it out. Because I’m a mother. I try really hard to ground against that. It happens sometimes. Other than that, I don’t find it a burden. Sometimes jobs are difficult and you just have to do them.

Have you ever felt like you were in a dangerous situation?No. My readings are in light and pretty positive. I have, however, in my life but not with a client, personally experienced an entity on a person close to me that was very dark. That’s when you just run away.

Those things do exist, but I’ve never felt like I’ve been compromised or in danger from it. I feel very protected. One reason is that my dad is my protector. He was a police officer, a lieutenant on the Atlanta mounted PD. He oftentimes stands next to me in uniform. I can feel him, I can smell him, I can see him. He’s not corporeal, doesn’t have a body – it’s not like that – but I know he’s there.

Is there information you don’t get or receive and don’t pass on?There’s definitely information that comes through that I hold back if I don’t think it will be helpful. For example, if someone wants to know when someone is going to pass. They want to know, “My mom is really sick, when is she going to die?” I telepathically ask my spirit guide, my dad, “Can I have this information?” … Sometimes my dad will show up in his uniform and be real stern with me and tell me it’s out of my pay grade. [Laughs] So, sometimes I’m not allowed to have the information. Some things you’re not supposed to know and I may have caught a glimpse of it but it’s not time to convey the information.

Do you find differences in the spirits that you connect to? Like are some spirits “stuck here” while others are on another plane they choose to connect from? Sometimes spirits can get stuck here. It’s so rare. They can become kinetic where they can move objects. For example, I was in Portland, Oregon, renting this house and my daughter was 3. We used to hear a little girl crying in the house. Even my daughter would say, “Do you hear her crying?” We figured out it was a spirit coming through and sometimes she would move and it would sound like she was running across the roof. She was very kinetic. She didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t break anything. She was a lost little girl. I had a hard time connecting with her. My daughter and I would read her stories hoping that she would hear them or feel them. She would sing songs. It was crazy. Me, the believer, was also the skeptic. I felt like she was stuck and I couldn’t connect with her.

I’m able to connect with the spirits that I speak to because you’re sitting in front of me and I can channel through you and get connected. Those spirits aren’t stuck. Those spirits are there because I’ve asked them to come to have a conversation.

Some (spirits) do jump out. I was at a barbecue last year and met a new friend and her dad was there and he was shaking paperwork at me. Shaking paperwork. I did have to say something to her. The vision he gave me, her dad had passed, and I said, “Your dad is here and he’s shaking paperwork at me. What’s going on? What needs to be taken care of litigiously?” She was like, “Oh my god,” and told me the whole story of what was happening and I understood why her dad was showing me that. Some spirits are connected to you not because you hold them here but because they have a message to deliver. They help us from the other side. Some of them do jump out at you and I just try to connect from my nice, safe, energetically clean office. I channel through there and I can leave it and go.

What do you have to do to prepare yourself before a reading? It’s something you do daily. It’s not just before the client comes in. It is making sure that I am happy and I am healthy and I am feeling harmonious … Horses are my thing. I have four horses. I go on pack trips. I camp. I feed my spirit in that way – daily. You can’t just eat once a week and be fed. You have to do it daily. I exercise. I eat well. I laugh a lot. It’s good. My daughter and my family help me out.

As far as right before the reading, before I begin my day, I check in and sit down with my dad for a few minutes. We run through the list of what’s gonna happen.

I pull some cards for myself to help me. I pull cards for each person that comes in. I pull one card. That will help me figure out where I need to set my energy before that person walks through the door … It helps me see, “Oh, the nine of cups, this person is doing really well. They’re on the upswing and come in in a good mood,” and they do. I usually wear some sort of tourmaline, which is a great protector, or black obsidian. I wear protecting stones to help me. That keeps me grounded.

What’s the biggest blessing that comes out of your gift?I think in the end when I say, “I hope you found this helpful,” and people do and I see them take a sigh of relief. That’s the payoff.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Patty Templeton


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