09/13/2010 01:00 AM EDT
By Elspeth Lodge
Journal Staff Writer
The Providence Journal / Kris Craig
Adriene Smith, of Warwick, was in the hospital, by herself, having complications from her pregnancy with her second child, when she said, “I can’t do this alone.”
Suddenly, she saw a ring of light encircle her room. She says she instantly knew that an “angel” had come to protect her.
Although Smith grew up in a faith-driven household where guardian angels were a normal part of conversation, she says she doesn’t “take things based on what other people tell me.” Smith says she has now seen “many things happen; it doesn’t bother me when people don’t believe.”
According to a 2008 study at the Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion, 55 percent of respondents believed not just in angels, but that they had at one point been helped by a guardian angel. Smith describes angels as “messengers of love and light,” and she has dedicated her life to helping others connect with them. After earning a degree in communications and a 25-year career on the corporate side of medicine, she now provides “holistic energy therapies” through Angel Whispers Rhode Island.
“We vibrate on one frequency, and the angels vibrate on another,” she says. “I want to help people understand that we are made up of energy, and that a shift of our thought patterns can shift our energies.”
Smith practices an energy-shifting technique called Reiki. Many Reiki practitioners either believe in, or are open to the idea of, communicating with angels.
According to Smith, a Reiki master teacher, Reiki focuses on healing and stress relief through shifting the “life-force” energy that flows through our bodies. Lower energy correlates with sickness and stress, she says, and higher energy is an indicator of a happy and healthy person.
How does Reiki work? A person starts by lying down on a table as if they were going to get a massage. The practitioner either touches specific locations on the body or hovers the hands directly above the body.
According to another practitioner, Adonya Wong, of Providence, “There are seven major hand positions [because there are seven major energy centers]. You start at the base of the spine and end at the top of the head, at the crown, focused on making sure the energy is balanced.”
Wong, who served in the military for eight years, says Reiki’s goal is to return the body’s systems to a place of harmony. Like Smith, Wong says that Reiki is not a religious practice. And, while Wong believes in energy therapies, she is less convinced that people can “communicate” with the angels. But she also doesn’t rule anything out.
Wong says she evokes “archangels” at times, when praying or meditating, but, “do I hear them talking back to me?” she says. “Absolutely not.” Often, she uses them to “bring in more energy.”
“If scientists are proving that there is an energy field around everyone in this universe, then why isn’t it that an archangel couldn’t be energy?” she asks.
Reiki helped Wong and her son find balance during a tumultuous time in their lives, she says, and it helped her to become less of a skeptic about energy therapies and anything else she would have immediately ruled out as impossible. She originally discovered Reiki by chance and after seeing the effects decided to use it as an alternative therapy for her autistic son, to help him be more centered and focused at school.
Wong says she thinks of an angel “the same way I would think of my best friend, like a guide.”
Mary Grillie, of North Providence, who runs Positive New Beginnings in Providence, is a Reiki practitioner who was never a skeptic of communicating with angels. The registered nurse says she communicates with them much like Smith. “I’ve always been able to receive this information.”
“Whether I’m using pictures or [tarot] cards, I’m getting messages [and delivering them],” says Grillie.
Grillie says she has known of her abilities since she was very young.
“I knew these things that I shouldn’t have known,” she says. And Grillie says she also uses these communication skills for her day job as a nurse to sense problems.
Smith, Wong and Grillie all say that Reiki and other energy treatments are not replacements for, but rather complements to, traditional medicine.
As for the cost of these treatments, Reiki practitioners charge varying fees. What does Smith say to the skeptics? “It’s a win-win — if you ask for help and you don’t get it, then you’re no worse off than you were before.”
Smith recounted a recent success: “I worked with a woman who lost her dog shortly after losing her husband. She felt the energy shift by the time she’d left.” Smith says that after the session, her client was able to talk about her loss to the people around her, without tears.Facts about angels
• A belief in angels is common to Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other religions.
• The theological study of angels is called “Angelology.”
• The word angel blends the Old English “engel” and Old French “angele,” which are derived from the Latin “angelus” and Greek “angelos,” meaning “messenger.”
• One in five people who believe they have been helped by a guardian angel do not consider themselves religious, according to a study by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.
• In Christianity, there is a “Celestial Hierarchy” of angels belonging to three “choirs.”
• Major works of literature involving angels include John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy.”