Interview with Katrina Wynne
The Yachats Gazette enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation with Ms. Wynne, who wears many hats: “Forester, gardener, Soulful Counselor/psychotherapist, mediator, minister, officiant, Death Doula, Natural Health Educator, landlord, political activist, community organizer, Tarot & oracle expert and international teacher/writer/lecturer, professional radio broadcaster, podcaster, budding videographer, journalist, photographer, graphic artist, motorcyclist, bicyclist, hermit and aging Super Woman.”
TYG: So how did you come to Yachats?
Katrina: That’s my favorite question. I think everybody in Yachats has some incredible story about how they landed here.
TYG: Seems like it!
Katrina: I think it does seem like it. Okay, so... I was at a process work conference in Waldport, with the Mindells...
TYG: Process work?
Katrina: Yes! Do you know Arnie and Amy Mindell? They’re delightful people, wise people—they teach all over the world. I’ve been studying with them since 1988. I was at one of their workshops in Waldport, while I was in graduate school up in Seattle. I came down on my motorcycle. And then I thought “Oh, I’ll go down to Yachats for lunch and find a nice, little place to eat.” But keep in mind, this was back in 1991. And when I came down here, there was no place to eat. Nothing that was really open for lunch that I would eat at. At that point Blythe had a cute little restaurant—I can’t recall what it was called—but that’s where I really wanted to eat, but it was closed. So right across the street there was this real estate agent, and with motorcycles you have to have a very wide radius for turning. So I thought: “Okay, I’ll just turn into that parking lot.” And then I thought, “Well, you know what, why don’t I just go in and see if there’s some property!” Because I’d been looking for some property for a couple of years, and I had very specific qualities for that property that I was guided by the trees to look for. I talked to the real estate agent, and he goes, “Well, we have either time to look at one property down in Yachats, or two down in Beaver Creek.” And I said, “Well, I’ll look at the one in Yachats.” And we drove through, we drove out, and I said, “I’ll take it.” And so like the Fool, I jumped in. And like the Fool, I ended up making Yachats my home, because the trees were calling to me, because the land had just been clear-cut. I didn’t even look at the house; I looked at the land. Trees speak to me, and they were crying, and saying, “Look, we need somebody to help us heal.” And so I made a commitment to live here, and to help those trees heal. And now they have a good 27 years of growth on them. They’re looking pretty good.
TYG: I think I know what you mean by the trees talking to you. I’m going to ask you if this is what you mean, but sometimes it almost seems like you can feel their radiant pain.
Katrina: Yes, I agree with you. Sometimes you can feel pain of different aspects of nature and people.
TYG: It just looks wrong, sometimes.
Katrina: Definitely; it’s a shocker. I know the first time I saw a clear-cut, I was absolutely shocked. And that was back in 1972 or 73.
TYG: It’s a bad practice, I think. I don’t have a problem using wood, but I think you should do it in an eco-friendly way, which to me means using a high tech solution that’s something like a multi-level farm, where you let them grow five years and then have a harvest.
Katrina: Well, let’s just say that trees are a natural entity, and they have their own, natural way of growing, and the less we interfere with their natural way of growing, the happier they are. If you think of trees as the USDA does, as an agricultural product to be harvested. A lot of things in this world have been turned into property and turned into resources and ignored their own, natural calling—their natural way of keeping the balance. So of course, in my work—no matter what level of work I’m doing—balance, like it sounds like it is for you, is very important. Everything has its own sense of how much water, and sunshine, and air, and space it needs. And you know, people are that way too! And I like to work with people.
TYG: I absolutely agree with that. I think that treating these amazing natural forests as property is wrong. I think that if they have been specifically set up to be agricultural, I don’t think it’s so bad. Again, like one of those tile tree farms, where the trees are manipulated to make the maximum out of wood, and the least possible devastation to natural forests. I think there’s something special that the natural forests have.
Katrina: Hmm. Well you probably like the idea of the bamboo commercial forests, because they do have a very quick growth period and are easily harvested.
TYG: I haven’t heard of it, but it does sound interesting.
Katrina: Yes, a lot of products are made out of bamboo. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of glues and resins and toxic things that are used to put those products together, such as flooring, so it’s kind of like a mixed bag. [...] But anyway, I totally agree with you: the more natural, the better. And I’m the kind of person where I start asking questions like, “Well where did this come from?” and “Who grew it?” and “How were the people treated?” and “How was the land treated?” and “How were the animals treated?” and “Did they use fertilizers?” and “Did they use pesticides?” I probably ask more questions than the average person, which can be very irritating for some people! [laughs]
TYG: I don’t have a problem with that. I think if you want to know more, more power to you.
Katrina: Right on, brother! [high fives]
TYG: Also, there are very different kinds of fertilizers. Some fertilizers are these artificially made stuffs that are only designed for growth speed—there’s no balance implied. But if you’re utilizing natural fertilizers like manure, I’m okay with that. And even if you could somehow design a [fertilizer] that has balance in mind, that helps growth speed but also keeps the plant healthy, then I probably wouldn’t have a problem with that.
Katrina: Let’s use an example since we’re talking about this. Let’s say you’re using chicken manure for fertilizer. Chicken manure itself can be an excellent fertilizer for certain applications. But then you would get, “What have the chickens been eating?” “Where did their food come from—is it organic or were they eating GMO grain?” So basically that’s being passed on from one level of digestion to the next. I’m very careful about those things as well. [...] I put myself through college the first few years by working at a natural foods store, and then when I graduated, I actually owned my own store for about five years. It was called Community Foods. One of the things we did was not only provide the healthiest food that was available, but we worked personally and distributed food from local growers that we knew were growing things in a certain way. We actually were very instrumental in supporting [an organization which was] at that time called CCOF, which was Certified California Organic Farmers. Later on, this influenced Oregon Tilth. They had a very, very high standard of what was considered organic growing. What’s interesting about that politically is that the USDA did not want to grant them their certification, because they were concerned that it would bring questions up for the general public about, “Well, if this is organic, what is everything else?” So that’s when the USDA decided to come up with their own label for organic, which is a sub-standard quality. They allow chemicals and things that, say, the CCOF would never allow. So as a store, we were actually purchasing food from those farmers who were CCOF-certified, distributing them to the other stores in town, and also visiting the farmland. This was in Santa Cruz, so down in Watsonville, there’s a lot of farmland down there. This is very political these days, but there are a lot of undocumented workers, and I got to witness first-hand how they lived, how they were treated, how they had these little bitty huts with no bathrooms, no running water, in the middle of a field where planes were flying over them and spraying them with chemicals. And I have to admit, that’s why I’m voting yes on 21-177, which is a measure that [came up] about aerial spraying right here in Lincoln County. I’m not in favor of spraying aerially, because I’ve seen it affect friends of mine; it would affect me where I live, it affects our water, the land, nature, everything.
TYG: Very, very bad idea. It’s just too imprecise!
Katrina: Yes. And there’s not enough of a policing—I’ll put it that way. It has no teeth. There’s no follow-through.
TYG: And there’s no good way to do it, either. Even if you had all the policing you wanted, there’s no real way that I can think of to truly identify the range of aerial spraying, because the planes move too slowly, and there’s too much spreading time, too much variability in the wind.
Katrina: So you have the problem with drift, and not a lot of accountability. And then you have to know who to sue, and what people don’t know is that you can’t really sue the land-owner who hired the plane or the helicopter; you actually have to sue the driver, the pilot. Because they’re the ones responsible, ultimately, for any kind of drift.
TYG: Wow! That doesn’t work. That doesn’t make sense at all!
Katrina: I can’t give legal advice, but this is just something I learned from a friend of mine who went through this and went to court and had a very, very difficult time of that. [...] Think of it this way: If you hire someone to do a job and they do a faulty job, are you responsible for the faulty job? Are you responsible for hiring those people? Anyway... So I’ve lived here since before you were born, and I plopped in here back in 1991, bought this clear-cut property, and it’s funny, because I’d just finished graduate school in Seattle, and I had my Master’s degree in counseling psychology.
TYG: So that’s how you made your living, trying to help nature.
Katrina: It’s kind of like my primary job was helping the land, helping nature; but my day job was helping people deal with their own out-of-balanceness in life, and helping them find their own balance through counseling.
TYG: Two very interconnected fields.
Katrina: They are for me, because both of them have to do with honoring peoples’ nature, and helping them find balance and find their own way of being, in a world that’s very out of balance.
TYG: Absolutely. There’s too much need for profit, and too much reliance on old ways, ways that would have worked fine before people understood. In terms of drilling oil, I can’t blame the first pioneers all that much. They had no idea! They had no idea what would happen to the environment. [...] So what kind of counseling do you do?
Katrina: First off, I would say I’m rather eclectic. Also, in my 26 years here in Yachats, and practicing in Oregon, the laws have been changed. Currently I practice what I call “Soulful Counseling,” which means I’m a minister who also does spiritual counseling. My background and training, of course, is my Master’s degree in counseling psychology, as well as my background and training in process work as well as psychotherapy. Another thing that I bring into my counseling knowledge, but don’t necessarily bring into a session, is my background and training in metaphysics, and understanding people and life from a whole different point of view. That actually ends up being more of the work I’m doing these days. I’m doing less on the individuals/couples/family counseling, and also mediation (meaning personal mediation, not legal) and life-coaching—even though I’m still doing those things—and more in this other area, that is another funny story about moving to Yachats. For 20 years, before moving here, I was what one would call a solitary practitioner of metaphysics, tarot, I Ching. So I’ve studied tarot cards, metaphysics, oracles—many, many other things, and only practiced them privately for 20 years. And the ironic thing is that I moved to little, bitty, old Yachats...
TYG: ...and there’s a demand for it!
Katrina: People are asking me to teach classes, to do private sessions, and I end up starting a little psychic fair here. And then I handed it over to Violet, and Violet turned it into a big, huge, wonderful event which is called Pathways to Transformation, which has been going on... this will be the 21st year. I actually teach all over the world. I’m invited to teach in China; I’ve taught in New Zealand, I’ve taught in Europe. I just came back from teaching in New York City at a tarot and psychology conference. I have a few books out on tarot. So that’s actually where a lot of my passion is, and it does tie in with the counseling skills, because what I’m doing in the tarot world is teaching [card] readers how to really raise the bar on their skills and their ethics, and how to turn tarot lessons from the stereotype of predictions and fortune-telling, and more into how it can be therapeutic and supportive for people in their life. So that’s a great passion of mine.
TYG: So could you explain to me and the readers what tarot is? I haven’t actually ever heard of it.
Katrina: Certainly! So tarot cards typically are a deck of 78 cards. A playing card deck tends to have 52 cards in it, and what you call four suits. The four suits go from the ace to the ten, and then you’ve got what we call your three people cards, or court cards. So tarot cards are an interesting combination, going back some four or five hundred years, basically to northern Italy, where someone decided to combine playing cards, but they added another card for each suit because they wanted to add a woman, which is the queen. So you have your page, your knight, your queen and your king, which are the four people cards, then you have your ten and what we call the pips, one through ten, or the ace through ten. And you’ve got the four suits. But what they added to that, or combined with it, which makes it unique to tarot, is what we call the 22 cards of the major arcana. And the 22 cards of the major arcana, going back to deep, deep, metaphysical knowledge, represent what I think of as a visual book of wisdom, just like when somebody looks at the Bible or the Quran, or many, many other books of wisdom. There’s a great deal of wisdom, but they’re pictures. As they say, you know, a picture speaks a thousand words, so each one of those cards has a million stories in it. And when you combine the cards, it really expands the story in a very, very unique way.
TYG: So it’s a very interpretive venture.
Katrina: Ah, that’s a great question. For some people it’s very interpretive. For the way I work with the cards, with my background in psychology and especially in process work with the Mindells, I actually don’t try to interpret the cards, I try to bring in the experience the cards and my client’s intuition, and my intuition, and really bringing the lessons and the energy of the cards to life. So, remember earlier when we were talking about listening to the trees? And feeling the trees? That’s what we do with the cards. We listen to them, we feel them, and they speak to us in a unique language, so it’s not one interpretation fits all. That would be sort of like the old card-science way of working with them.
TYG: So, just explaining to the readers here: I feel like often this kind of stuff can sound like “whoo hoo,” but I know what you’re talking about. There is some sort of weird thing out there that science hasn’t quite uncovered yet. I don’t know what it is, and it may be people putting interpretations on things, but I choose to believe that there is something there.
Katrina: Well, actually, quantum physics has tried to describe this, and one term that kind of that kind of fits with this picture—and I learned this from Arnie Mindell, who himself is an MIT physicist in his past—is this thing, called an entanglement. An entanglement means, there’s something going on way over there...
TYG: Two atoms that are directly paired.
Katrina: Yes, right. So two things are happening. It doesn’t appear that they’re connected, but they actually are connected. So let me put it this way: So, do you dream? Do you have dreams at night when you sleep?
TYG: Yes, absolutely.
Katrina: Alright. And is it your belief that when you have a dream, there’s maybe a message for you there sometimes? Or it’s telling you something about your day? Or are they ever prophetic—that means, are they telling you about something that’s going to happen in the future?
TYG: I have never experienced a prophetic dream, but I would not be surprised if it happened. Just because, again, there are odds. And I have a very wild imagination. That’s just something I am. I choose to believe in the polycosmos, because it just makes sense. I’ve seen several very good book interpretations; they’re fictional books, but they are written by very strong scientific authors. One of my favorite authors is a person called Neal Stephenson, who writes amazing stuff. You want to learn more about a very good and intuitive, working interpretation of the polycosm, then his book called Anathem is very good for it.
Katrina: Thank you. And along that same idea: Imagine that there are these different levels and different dimensions within our current dimension. And we, as human beings, are kind of limited, when you look at the spectrum for instance.
TYG: The spectrum of light.
Katrina: Well, there’s the spectrum of light, but then there are other vibrations that our eyes do not detect, right? We can see the rainbow, but we don’t see the X-rays, we don’t see microwaves. [...] So imagine that everything is vibration, and there are certain images that vibrate in your dream realm, and other images that vibrate in your waking, day-to-day life. Now imagine that there’s a dimension beyond your dreams that’s trying to communicate with you, but it can’t communicate in everyday language. It has to reach you through what I call a sort of intermediary language. It can be the language of your dreams. To me, that’s the way the tarot cards work: They’re an intermediary language between your everyday, conscious, linear thinking, and something that’s beyond that. So to me, each card is like a snapshot of a dream. [...] So the fun thing is, I’ve combined both of my worlds, and I call myself a “forest mystic.” [laughs] Because I live out in the woods, and I’m connected to the trees, and I feel very protective of the forest, and at the same time I totally vibrate with the metaphysical world, and all this cosmic consciousness, and caring about the Earth, and the people, and the universe, and understanding how to vibrate with it all. And it’s not something many people can talk about, and I appreciate that you kind of speak this language a bit.
TYG: To be honest, for me, part of it grows out of thinking further about the free will versus predestination debate. My final conclusion, you could call it, of one line of my inquiry, is that if there is no free will, there is no polycosm. Because if there is no free will, everything will happen one way. And that scares the he** out of me, to be honest.
Katrina: How about this? You were born with your genetics, right? You have the gift of your mother and your father to make who you are. And that’s kind of like your potential in this lifetime, among other things. But guess what: You get to decide what you do with it, and that’s the free will. So you can’t change at this point who your parents were. Right? That’s the fated part in this sense. But what you do is completely within your hands. So there’s this beautiful dance between the two, I think.
TYG: Absolutely. Seeing what you are allowed to do, and what you can do. For me, what’s has been allowed to do, is to be a human being. I choose to believe that as long as you have a few basic genetic parts, you can do just about anything that’s physically possible. And the way I interpret that is that I plan to become a scientist and an engineer, and I choose to believe in the beauty of cyclical motion—cycles are cool, but I also love literal cyclical motions.
TYG: Spirals I like, but I’m thinking more about wheels, and gears. I’m fascinated by the scientific, and the hard.
Katrina: Well see, that’s the cool thing about metaphysics. Because meta-physics means people, intuitive, having visions, who prophesied, or had a way of knowing other than linear thought. And it’s taken science a while to catch up with them.
TYG: That’s an interesting way of putting it. I think that yes, sometimes that happens, but also it’s logical outgrowth. Because I feel that outgrowth, in terms of what can happen, goes a lot faster than physical experimentation. The mind works a lot faster than the body.
Katrina: It does! In fact, some people say that the mind works faster than the speed of light. I’ve been doing a little research in that area and I still have more to learn, but it’s a fascinating area for me.
TYG: I find that sometimes I [have to wonder] “How does this work?” then other times, Blam! It all comes to me.
Katrina: Have you heard the word “synchronicity”?
TYG: I think so. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by it in this context.
Katrina: Well, meaningful coincidence.
TYG: Yes, inspiring coincidence.
Katrina: Yes! It’s like you were thinking about somebody, and the next moment, they call you.
TYG: I know what you mean about that—and it’s weird when it happens!
Katrina: So you might actually find the work of Carl Jung interesting. That’s what my presentation was in New York, just a couple of weeks ago. I’ll give you the title: “Life Is But a Dream: Jung, Process Work in the Dreamtime, and Tarot.” What I was exploring, and what I was educating people about, were the actual theories behind Jung’s work, his actual ways of describing them. He was very interested in science, and being able to have repeatable patterns, but he drew a lot of inspiration from metaphysics, and from myths, fairy tales, and stories from around the world, because he started noticing, as Joseph Campbell did, these patterns that would keep repeating. And that’s why he came up with the idea of the collective unconscious. He’s saying, well, there must be some kind of connection going on between us that we can’t see. He used the image—or many people have used the image—of an iceberg. So what we know is that little piece of the iceberg above the water’s surface, but below is our personal conscious and the collective unconscious.
TYG: 95%. I think that the collective unconscious could be—I don’t know this for sure, because our science hasn’t progressed far enough—it could be built into genetics.
Katrina: Oh, now you’re getting into the work of Carl Calleman! Carl Calleman worked for the World Health Organization. He was a Swedish cellular biologist, but he was also fascinated with metaphysics, and he studied the Mayan calendar. By studying the Mayan calendar, for him, it clicked, and it coincided with evolutionary leaps in biology. From there, he went on to come up with an amazing idea, which he calls the purposeful universe. Which is again this whole idea about how much is fated and intentioned, versus how much is free will. So if you ever get a chance to read the Purposeful Universe—I don’t want to give too much away, but he basically, ultimately says that in our own cells there are unknown aspects of our DNA, which themselves—and this is my interpretation—are like an antenna, that picks up these signals from the center of the universe. It’s fascinating.
TYG: The center of the universe, hmm.
Katrina: The center of the universe, yes.
TYG: I wonder where that would be, because we think that’s somewhere within the light-radius of our universe, but of course we have no way of knowing that. It could be quadrillions of light years, far beyond what’s actually happened so far. Because we’re only in year 14 billion, or something like that, 15 billion. If it’s quadrillions away—because we’re pretty sure that the universe expands faster than light, or that’s what we think—so I’m wondering... I mean, we know that there are processes that operate faster than light—we know that for certain now. We have measured this, because we’ve seen things coming out of a black hole! [...] I feel like perhaps there may be two levels of logic. There’s the logic that we know of so far, that we can measure, which is the logic of conscious thought. And then I’m wondering if there is some sort of logic that we will eventually uncover, that is a much deeper logic, that is tied perhaps directly into our cells, or our genetics, or perhaps it’s some deep physical property of the universe. This is again completely speculative, but I would be surprised if that were the case.
Katrina: That’s what I love about process work in psychology. It’s one of the few modalities in psychology that honors the Earth, and the universe, and all these unknown things, and realizes that there are ways that they are trying to communicate to us, and through us, and with us. And that kind of goes back to the Dreamtime, and the indigenous peoples such as the aboriginal Australians, who have a sense of the Earth dreaming us up. And so then you have to ask the question, “Are we the dreamer? Or are we the one being dreamed up?”
TYG: This is a question I’ve always had. [...]
Katrina: So you can imagine, with all these fantastic thoughts that we’re talking about, these conversations... I don’t know about you, but I don’t get to have these conversations every day with people.
Katrina: There are only a few people that have the same fascinations. So that’s why I spend a lot of time out by myself in the woods. [laughs] [...] And so, back to the question of why I came to Yachats: it was a leap of faith, but also, I think Yachats was dreaming me up to be here. So, I just really appreciate that you reached out to me—I was surprised, and interested that you did it on my birthday, the same day I was doing the presentation in New York.
TYG: Oh, I had no idea!
Katrina: I totally got that it was all kind of lined up. So that in itself was very intuitive of you.
TYG: Again, I had no idea!
Katrina: Well that’s the fun part for me! I have students from all over the world, because I also teach online, and I have my podcast, so I have people listening to that all over the world. It’s just amazing with the new technology how we can really reach out and connect with so many people. Our sense of community truly expands. I’m very excited about that. And thank you for letting me be in the little old Yachats Gazette!
TYG: Thank you so much!